Admin Has it a Little Twisted

Did you see what happened in the Record on Monday, May 7th? The U is stepping up their attempts to paint us as greedy and ungrateful, only now to the entire University community and broader public.

Rick Fitzgerald, University spokesperson on bargaining, contributed a piece about bargaining from admin’s position, in which he linked to bargaining updates administration has been posting on the “About LEO” page–from UM’s Human Resources team.

If you read Fitzgerald’s article, or any of the recent bargaining updates admin has posted, you won’t be surprised that they tell the story quite differently than we do. For instance:

“The university has offered significant increases to both the minimum salaries and the base salaries of existing lecturers.

The university also offered one-time equity base increases for lecturers in the first year of the contract as well as annual increases for all lecturers over the life of the three-year contract.”

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This language comes directly from the admin’s bargaining updates, which also say:

“Those increases would raise average annual salaries over three years to an estimated $79,000 in Ann Arbor, an increase of 16 percent; $46,000 in Dearborn, an increase of 18 percent; and $49,000 in Flint, an increase of 14 percent.

Currently the average annual salary of a lecturer, for eight months of teaching, is $68,000 in Ann Arbor, $39,000 in Dearborn and $43,000 in Flint.”

Yep, you read that right. Did you know we were so well compensated? We didn’t, either!

That’s because… we’re not.

Using “averages” to represent salaries for UM Lecturers across the board is very misleading. Averaged figures mask the fact that the many members who face serious financial struggles will not win much relief under the University’s current proposal, due to loopholes that apply to Lecturers who have served a certain number of years.

Using averages is a trick that admin uses to avoid addressing the numbers that accurately reflect the situation of Lecturers on all three campuses. There are a small number of Lecturers in cash-rich programs who make such substantial amounts of money that their salaries falsely inflate the average salaries of all Lecs.

To illustrate: if you average the entire Union Council’s salaries – the 8 council members make between $39,265-$78,820 for full time rates – it comes to $44,326. If you include just President Schlissel’s salary of $823,523/yr, our average salary suddenly becomes $130,904.

Unfortunately, the university is sending reports that are warped by averaged salaries and other misrepresentations via email to a number of University-affiliated groups. MLive picked up the story, highlighting the fact that admin intends to quit the contract on May 29th, and that admin continues to imply that we are being uncooperative in bargaining. This narrative leaves out the important detail that if we don’t reach an agreement with admin by the end of June, they can withhold our union right to automatic dues deduction, which is a union-busting tactic.

We provided MLive with information that more accurately represents the vast majority of Lecturers’ salaries, but the author of that piece chose not to use it. Instead,  the article reproduced the admin’s narrative, using the exact language of admin’s bargaining updates without citing them as direct quotes:

“Those increases would raise average annual salaries over three years to an estimated $79,000 in Ann Arbor, an increase of 16 percent; $46,000 in Dearborn, an increase of 18 percent; and $49,000 in Flint, an increase of 14 percent.

Currently, the average annual salary of a lecturer, for eight months of teaching, is $68,000 in Ann Arbor, $39,000 in Dearborn and $43,000 in Flint.”

Sound familiar? In response, our bargaining team manager and LEO Vice President Kirsten Herold wrote a statement to the University Record in which she says:

“This is a rather one-sided account of what is happening.  As LEO bargaining team manager, I do not appreciate the suggestion that somehow LEO is not bargaining in good faith…

LEO is as eager as management to come back to the table.  Any suggestion to the contrary is simply not true.

If bargaining is dragging out, it is not due to lack of efforts on LEO’s side.  We presented our salary proposal on October 27.  We received our first counter more than 100 days later, which was essentially a status quo proposal that enraged the members in the room.  Progress has been made since, but it has been exceedingly slow at times.”

Admin is misrepresenting not only our eminently affordable asks, but also our willingness to respond to reasonable offers. It’s no accident that they are getting more aggressive after classes have ended, assuming that we are losing community support.

We need to push back by packing the bargaining room on Friday, May 18th (starting at 9:30AM at Pierpont Commons on North Campus – follow the signs for the bargaining room) and even more importantly, showing up to the Regents Meeting in Dearborn on May 17th. The Regents will meet at 3:00PM at Fairlane Center South (19000 Hubbard Drive, Dearborn, MI), and we will have an action (with lunch) at Fairlane South courtyard starting at 1:30PM. Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/984365088411143/

Let’s underscore the point we’ve been making since October 27th: We will not allow our labor to be invisible and undervalued any longer. Nor will we allow the University to portray us as greedy.

 

No Money for Lecs in Dearborn, but $90 Million for a Building

by Alicia Schaeffer, Dearborn

Lecturers and allies protested the University of Michigan-Dearborn ELB groundbreaking to tell the administration that its priorities are hurting the faculty who teach the majority of classes on campus as well as students.

A group of LEO lecs and student allies hold aloft signs that read #Respect The Lecs.
LEO lecs and Allies protest groundbreaking with informational picket.  Photo Credit: Carol Hogan

During contract negotiations, management has told LEO that UM-Dearborn doesn’t have the money to pay for higher salaries and equity adjustments, and the surplus in Ann Arbor will not be distributed to fund salary increases on Dearborn and Flint. Yet, the administration has allocated tens of millions of dollars to fund construction projects in recent years, like the $90 million Engineering Laboratory Building (ELB) Project. 

On Friday, Lecturers, Students, and Allies marched on the Dearborn campus to the ceremony site next to the Chancellor’s Pond.

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LEO lecs and Allies protest groundbreaking with informational picket. Photo Credit: Carol Hogan

At first, Security told Lecs and Allies to move, and then, after the group stayed put, refused to start the ceremony until the chanting quieted down. Holding LEO signs high and passing out leaflets, the protesters chanted loudly between speeches, reminding those in the crowd and the press that “the Leaders and the Best, Must Respect the Lecs!”

 

Chancellor Little was one of the speakers, and Provost Kate Davy sat in the audience, alongside alumni, local representatives, corporate sponsors, and administration.

UM-D alum and LEO ally State Senator David Knezek spoke during the ceremony. Lecs and allies chanted his name as he walked to the podium to thank him for his support. State Rep. Abdullah Hammoud, also a UM alum (Dearborn & Ann Arbor) and LEO ally, was in the audience and spoke with Lecs afterward to offer his continued support.

SIX DAYS Left to Evaluate UM Admin

Hi LEO lecs and allies!

Just a note to amplify Ian’s email message going out this morning. We’ve been getting repeated emails reminding us to evaluate our university administrators. (“As a reminder, you can participate in the annual online Evaluation of Administrators at http://aec.umich.edu.“) This includes President Schlissel and Provost Philbert.

SO LET’S DO IT. We have until the 18th, which is 2 days before our contract expires!

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Picket sign by Alla Dubrovich

You may have heard that over the weekend Philbert sent a message down through an associate that we shouldn’t “think that [he] was moved by a bunch of form letters from students.” OH REALLY?

  1. That’s disrespectful. Students deserve ALL of our respect.
  2. They were NOT form letters.
  3. They included missives from allies from every corner of the community.

Maybe they’ll respect us when we tell them exactly what we think on their evaluations? Word is, a lot of people neglect to fill these in.

LET’S NOT NEGLECT TO DO THIS.

There are two or three questions in particular that have to do with how well they support teaching excellence and how they manage the university’s finances.

Well, we’ve SEEN the answers to those questions. Let’s remind them on their evals, shall we? 

Don’t forget to write detailed comments supporting your answers!

(Updated Monday, 4/9) NO STRIKE TOMORROW AND TUESDAY, DUE TO SUBSTANTIAL MOVEMENT.

UPDATE 4/9: Good news! The five of us writing this post and press release together last night, at the end of a long weekend, input the Flint & Dearborn numbers incorrectly. We’re actually up to an $8,700 increase on those two campuses. 

Dear LEO members & Allies:

We have been in bargaining all week and weekend — Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. After some very slow days, we have finally made headway on important points. On Saturday at 10 pm, they agreed to the concept of equity raises and how to do them. Today, we finally got some movement on minimum starting pay: a more than $10,000 increase in Ann Arbor, and over $7,500 in Flint and Dearborn. This is already the biggest salary gain ever, although still not nearly enough for a living wage.

We have reached this point due to the overwhelming support of members and students and other allies at the University and throughout the state, including Regents and other elected officials. Unfortunately, President Schlissel and Provost Philbert have not yet fully acknowledged the legitimacy of our demands.

Nevertheless, the progress made this Sunday persuades us to delay the job action for now, in the conviction that we will make more substantial progress. We feel empowered to keep bargaining for the coming days and weeks for the truly outstanding contract we all deserve.

In the next day or two, we will be announcing times for meetings on all three campuses, at which we will answer questions and discuss strategies to build on the power we have already generated.  

We cannot begin to express the gratitude we feel for the groundswell of strength and solidarity our members and allies have shown each other. This is not the end!

Bargaining Update 4/7

Bargaining, a haiku:

Long day in HR,

Equity calculator

Tentatively done.

In all seriousness, we’ve made great gains on non-financials (including appointments and performance reviews) and benefits. Although we’re still a long way apart on salary, we know that things can happen very quickly in the 11th hour.

PLEASE BE SURE TO KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR EMAIL AND SOCIAL MEDIA FOR UPDATES ON THE STATUS OF THE STRIKE. Though we are admirably mobilized, a walkout is not a foregone conclusion.

As you may have seen on social media yesterday, we waited five hours for Admin’s response to our elegantly crafted equity calculator and — we thought — a full salary proposal, with dollars and everything. What we got was a far less elegant calculator with some numbers too laughable to print.

We heard the concerns driving their proposal and went back to the table to come up with a solution that would solve both their problems and ours. After many sidebars and back-and-forth tinkering with ideas, we finally finished our twelve-hour day with a calculator for equity that we think both sides can live with.

Today we expect to see a serious, fully-fleshed out salary proposal and start to bring their vision closer to ours.

In good news, although we had to give up paid parental leave for birth parents, it isn’t totally out of the realm of possibility. They offered us “me too” language saying that if and when other bargaining units at the University get this benefit, so will we. As it turns out, HR is “studying” the idea.

We start again at 10:20, in the same place: Academic HR (ASB, corner of Hoover and Greene). If the door is locked, call (917) 628-8483, and someone will come let you in.

Bargaining Update 4/6: SO MUCH SUPPORT — and Some Progress

In one sentence, you might describe Friday as incredibly inspiring and uplifting in some ways (so much solidarity!!) and frustrating though potentially productive in others (no real movement on salary, though some hints of collaboration).

A packed room--on the right, many rows of chairs, all filled, people along the walls on the sides and in back. On the left, bargaining team member Stevens Wandmacher provides an update.
Lecturers and allies in caucus April 6, 2018

First, we want to celebrate the fact that 160 lecturers and at least 250 allies signed in to open bargaining Friday! The bargaining room, caucus room, and second caucus room were constantly full of people — which is to say nothing of the second-floor hallway being occupied all day by our amazing students.

More than one lecturer has noted that while the University doesn’t always live up to its claim of being “The Leaders and Best,” the students certainly do. We LEO lecturers are lucky enough to have them on our side. THEY are why we teach, and their support — not to mention that of our tenure-track allies, sister unions like the nurses’ union and GEO, local and state politicians, and others — means the world.

Hall at the Michigan League full of students sitting against the walls and in the middle of the floor with "Respect the Lecs" signs, working on laptops and talking.
Students line the hall outside the bargaining room as part of their all day sit-in.

On to business:

After a slow start, we met at the table for a conversation that was probably shorter than the time it took to complete introductions in the packed Michigan Room. We were ready in the morning with four items:

  1. Our response to their proposal on MoU Z (diversity in hiring)
  2. Our response to the latest offer on Package B (We continue to advocate for a childcare subsidy and 6-8 weeks of maternity leave for birth mothers)
  3. Our newly proposed Package D (union rights-related items and the right to have lecturers’ names listed on public departmental faculty lists)
  4. Our response to last night’s inadequate salary proposal (Package C)

Items 1-3 were items on which we have already reached much agreement and on which they had no questions. On salary, they also had no questions, but they did observe (correctly) that “we’re still very far apart.”

We broke so they could caucus, and we engaged our members and allies, who asked questions and offered their ideas about where we were. Then we marched over to the Office of the Provost to deliver scores of “direct interest” postcards voicing support by students and other allies before we returned for lunch.

At about 1:15, Admin came back to the table, where Gary Downen presented compelling data about minimum salaries, salary structures, and workload expectations at local community colleges. Then Tom Foy spoke movingly about his twenty-odd years of experience, struggling to make a living as a lecturer in Dearborn at less than $40,000 a year by cleaning offices on the side.

We broke again so the Admin team could caucus about our proposals. During this break, lecturers, students, and allies held fast. LEO President Ian Robinson read the text of a letter of support that eleven legislative representatives had written to U-M President Mark Schlissel.

The Admin bargaining team came back a couple of hours later with some concepts — no numbers — for how salary equity adjustments might work. We asked a couple of clarifying questions and talked about where their proposal could be potentially helpful and also where it is deeply problematic, and then we broke for small-group conversations.

Today we meet again in Academic HR at 11 am.

We’re exhausted, and we know there’s still a long road ahead. But we’re lifted by the groundswell of support and by our commitment to getting a strong, fair contract. Let’s make it happen!

Make sure to follow LEO on social media for regular updates. Click on the links below to join the conversation!

Bargaining Update 3/16: In Swahili, LEO Means “Today” AND We Got a Big Move!

Well, friends and colleagues, it was another record-breaking day at bargaining on Friday! At least 124 lecturers showed up, along with over 100 allies–including a LOT of undergraduate students, who spoke powerfully about their interest in our bargaining when they introduced themselves.

What these numbers mean: Talking with students and showing the quick PowerPoint (available with ideas for use in the Power Building Tookit) is working. Providing them with access to the LEO Blog and its Power Building Toolkit is working. Keep doing it, and urge your colleagues to do it as well!

We got some good movement on a major contract issue (benefits bridge–more on that in a minute), had a loud and lively march to the Diag and back, lunch with allies, and then more statements from allies and lecturers in the afternoon session.

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Photo Credit: Alec Below

Let’s talk major gains:

  • They’ve agreed to keeping lecturers whose appointments across fall and winter average 50% in benefits eligibility. Thus someone who is 66 or 75% in the fall and only 33 or 25% in winter would be eligible for benefits year-round.  
  • They’ve also agreed to expand summer benefits bridge for lecturers who had 50%+ for winter only, but who will coming back in the Fall with at least 50%.  

Here are some disappointments:

  • They rejected our proposal of a child-care subsidy.
  • They rejected our proposal of offering parental accommodation pay to non-birth parents.
  • They do not want to extend health care benefits to long-serving lecturers on discretionary leave (which would make taking such a leave much more viable).
  • They continue to deny departments the opportunity to give lecturers the working title of Teaching Professor.
  • They are unwilling to strengthen the optional choice to give additional courses to current part-time lecs, rather than hiring new part-time lecs.
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Photo Credit: Alec Below

As you may have heard, admin also delayed presenting their salary proposal until this week’s session in Flint. While it would have been nice to hear their offer with allies in the room, we hope that rescheduling it to the 23rd will mean more Ann Arbor and Dearborn lecturers will make the effort to show up in Flint this Friday.

Let’s be clear: the gains we’ve made have everything to do with the power we’ve been able to demonstrate thus far. We’ve built tremendous momentum among both lecturers and allies, and WE MUST CONTINUE TO APPLY PRESSURE with ever-higher attendance at bargaining each week.

These last few weeks are absolutely crucial. If you’re invested in forcing the University to invest in us, we need you to be doing the following things:

  1. Come to bargaining every Friday. (Reminder: This Friday is when we get a salary proposal back in Flint!)
  2. Come to the 2nd and 3rd General Membership Meetings, where we’ll make important decisions about next steps. Read more about GMMs here.
  3. Come to the Grade-In (2-3:30) and Regents Meeting (3:30-5) at the Michigan Union on Thursday, March 29th.
  4. Bring at least one fellow-lecturer with you to each of these things!  

About the Swahili: Marko Mwipopo, a lecturer in DAAS in Ann Arbor, addressed the admin team after lunch about his struggle to make ends meet on lecturer pay. He closed by saying that in a happy coincidence, Leo is the Swahili word for “today.” Let’s take that serendipitous new knowledge to heart, and ask ourselves what we can do for each other TODAY. Our solidarity is working, and a fantastic contract is in sight–time to dig in even more and pull together!

–Your bargaining team

Round One of GMMs Down, A2 Open Bargaining 1 THIS FRIDAY

Who knew you could get a room full of lecturers fired up and cheering at 8pm on a Tuesday?

Last night–Tuesday the 13th of March–we held our first of three Ann Arbor campus general membership meetings. (We’ll have a sequence of three GMMs on each campus, each meeting building in terms of size and urgency.)

We realize we’re all fairly exhausted–the waning semester is starting to feel like the last 6.1 miles of a marathon. Still, over 60 lecturers (and student allies!) too fed up to quit met in Annenberg Auditorium at the Ford School to assess bargaining so far and plan escalating action to bring home the best contract we’ve ever had. We  outlined important steps and decisions that you and other Lecturers in our union will have to make in the coming weeks, and secured commitments to act.

We’ve made some gains in bargaining, including an agreement to bridge health benefits over the spring and summer terms for lecturers who teach in the winter and know they’ll be teaching in the fall. We’re also making movement towards open-ended contracts after the first continuing renewal review. But our work isn’t done–we still have to present MAJOR strength to get the economic gains we deserve. And we CAN DO THIS.

Please put Ann Arbor’s GMM #2 in your calendar: Sunday, March 25 from 2-3:30pm at the Neutral Zone (310 E. Washington St. Ann Arbor, MI 48104). Those who attend GMM #2 will decide on next steps toward a potential major job action.

 

 

 

 

GMMs: What They Are and Why You REALLY NEED TO BE THERE

OK, We’ve reached the point in the process when things are going to happen VERY quickly, and we all need to be on the same page. In these CRUCIAL NEXT FOUR WEEKS, the most important way we achieve consensus about how to proceed is at a series of GMMs –General Membership Meetings.

Note: Each of these meetings happen on each campus, and you can go to whatever meeting is most convenient for you–you do not have to attend a meeting at the campus on which you teach.

Here’s what will happen, when, in what order, and how you have a say in our actions:

Meeting 1:

At the first GMMs we talk about our proposals and administration’s counter-proposals to date. We’ll also talk about how to increase our chances to win a fair contract, and which proposals as a group we will stand behind together until we win (what matters most to us as a bargaining unit, what we can live with, etc.). Ann Arbor’s first GMM is TOMORROW, Tuesday, 3/13, 7-8:30p at the Annenberg Auditorium, Ford School of Public Policy, 735 S. State Street.

 

Meeting 2:

In the second meetings, 7-10 days later, we will review further bargaining progress and make a decision about whether to send members an electronic ballot; this ballot would request giving the bargaining team authorization to call for a two-day job walkout in early April if significant progress isn’t made. If the ballot is sent out 3/25, we’ll have the results on 3/28. A majority of votes cast will determine the election results.

 

Meeting 3:

The third meetings will be held the first week in April. We’ll hear the status of bargaining and, if the electronic ballot resulted in a “yes” vote, we’ll again take a vote of members present about which of the following things we should do:

  1. accept the proposed contract,
  2. walk out, or
  3. take a third course of action, such as continuing to organize members and allies over the summer for escalating action in the Fall.

Here’s why you need to be at each of these meetings: They’re where our next major decisions happen.

The opinion and participation of all lecturers is critical over the next five weeks.

We are within reach of a very strong contract, and like we’ve been saying this whole year: We will only get what we are organized to win. Let’s show up and decide as a union what we’re willing to accept.

HOUSEKEEPING ALERT

Hello, loyal LEO Matters Blog followers!

It’s spring cleaning time!

Mid-Century-looking graphic of spring cleaning tools and office icons with the words "Office Spring Cleaning Checklist"

You may notice that you get several emails today with “new” blog posts. These are simply bargaining updates from past bargaining sessions that we wanted to be sure were logged and linked here, in the list of bargaining dates and locations.

All of these have previously gone out as emails, but not all had found their way to the blog yet. Now that we’ve done some spring cleaning, they have.

Stay tuned for NEW posts coming as soon as we’re back from break!

–Your LEO Communications Team