Bob King’s Statement to Admin March 9th

I’ve been asked to make comments prior to giving you our salary proposal so you understand our thinking, where we’re coming from. I want to start a step earlier than that.

I want to express to you the feeling of the bargaining committee, the members attending, the members we’ve been talking to. They’ve been questioning us and the administration about why bargaining is not more collaborative.

I’ve been in a lot of bargaining sessions, and a lot of bargaining teams. I expected an open sharing of ideas, debate, discussion, creative thinking. I’ve been really disappointed with the amount of “not interested,” your striking out our proposals time and time again without coming back to shared ideas. In the auto industry, I went from a culture like that to a culture that was very different. In my last years in the auto industry it was a collaborative problem-solving relationship. If management came to us with a problem, even if the contract didn’t mandate it, we found a way to solve it if benefitted both management and our membership.

We never heard from management that it was not mandatory or that it was a permissive subject. If they had a problem that affected workers, they cared about finding a solution to those problems. My hope is after this round of bargaining, we move to a more collaborative problem-solving situation.

I also want to say to your bargaining team, and for our members and allies here, I know that it’s not your guys’ fault. I know you get direction from above. I know to get the economic justice our members deserve and to get the noneconomic justice, we got to convince the top of the house, the administration and regents, that it should be a different collaborative problem-solving atmosphere.

The number one reason we’re here is we want to see the University of Michigan, in Dearborn, Flint, and Ann Arbor, be the leaders and the best, in providing the best quality education to students that we possibly can.

If we’re all honest with ourselves, we’ve heard so many personal stories – the statements we heard today were powerful and moving – and we hear about people teaching at the University of Michigan who are not treated fairly or justly. In any institution – Roger Klungle and Joe Walls seated here today have dealt with this in other industries – the number one criteria for success is, “How do they treat their people?” In the property or auto business, whatever it may be, what determines your success is what people around you do.

At the University of Michigan, we cannot be the leaders and the best if – and we know the most critical part of our teaching is done by the non-tenure-track faculty – in Dearborn and Flint, Lecturers do more than 50% of credit hours at both locations – in Ann Arbor, Lecturers and GSIs do almost 50%. So if that significant of a segment of our faculty feels undervalued and underpaid and disrespected, and are stressed, like you heard both Amy and Aurora today, they don’t know semester from semester—how many classes did we get cancelled in Dearborn? It’s not the university’s fault [the cancellation of those classes], but to not get the protection people should have, as Aurora said, your security can be gone in a moment’s notice. They have kids and don’t know if they will have insurance from one week to a next. That’s morally wrong.

The other major thing that surprises me – and again my goal in raising these issues – your responsibility is to make sure President Schlissel, the provost, the vice-president, and the chief financial officer, that they hear these personal stories, that they all hear what the situation is. One of the things I hope you’re telling them is, there’s gotta be a major change in culture in terms of respect. You’ve heard over and over again the many ways that the university does not treat Lecturers the way they should, does not treat them as full and equal faculty as they should be.

When you get our proposal today, you’re gonna see that there’s almost no change in our salary proposal.

On behalf of the bargaining committee and the membership, we’re looking for a dramatic change for the way that our members are treated. We’re not looking to bargain to the middle. We’ve put on the table what are extremely reasonable demands – the minimums and equity raises.

I want to make sure that you make it really clear to the people you report to that we’re looking for dramatic—I think someone said seismic—change in the justice formula and the respect in paying people for the value they deliver.

Let’s look at financial numbers at the University of Michigan. The administration deserves credit for running a financially strong institution. It’s not something that has happened recently. From 2007-2017, we’ve had hundreds of millions of dollars in excessive cash flow. That’s revenue versus expenditures.

The last two years alone, $513 million in 2016 and $542 million in 2017 in excess cash over expenses. If you average out the last ten years, it’s $369 million a year in excess cash over expenditures. There’s no question in the world that University of Michigan as an institution, the administration as leadership, has the ability to pay far better salaries and benefits to Lecturers.

Another staggering figure, in a positive way, but again it illustrates so strongly why our demands are so reasonable, why we shouldn’t bargain to the middle: President Schlissel wasn’t the president during the last negotiations. This is now his opportunity, and it’s our job collectively that he understand what is right and fair to do. Our unrestricted cash reserves – not including the hospital and the endowment – is $4 billion. For liquid assets, or total cash and short-term investments – that’s money you can put your hands on tomorrow – we have $1.8 billion. This is the official audit that the university has done.

Especially poignant after our speakers today and in the past, one of the things you’re seeing in our society is a rebellion against the people at the top who are getting more and more, while the people at the bottom get less and less.

In 2014-2017, the salary of the president increased 13%, the provost by 13.6%, the CFO by 15%, the Dearborn chancellor by 17.8%, the Flint chancellor by 15.9%. All LEO faculty as an average increased by 3.9%. Even more staggering in dollar figures: the University of Michigan president’s salary from 2014 to 2017 went up by $92,318, the provost by $61,322, the CFO by $90,000, the Dearborn chancellor by $53,932, the Flint chancellor by $43,470. All LEO faculty gained by an average of $1,928. That is unconscionable. That needs to change.

The other thing, when students and parents are finding out and hearing these things, they are questioning why are they paying so much in tuition. In 2003-2004, in-state tuition was $7,975 and out-of-state was $24,777. In 2017-2018, in-state was $14,826 and out-of-state was $44,476. From 2003-2004 to 2017-2018, in-state tuition increased by 85.9% and 91.6% for out-of-state. The minimum salaries, as Kirsten said at the bargaining kickoff back in October, have gone up 11%. That’s unconscionable to me. Average salaries have increased 38%, but that’s far below what tuition has gone up.

Another thing we’ve had big disagreement on, this market analysis you present. “We’ll pay whatever we can get away with,” when talking at past bargainings, we’ve heard that.

Right after the last regents’ meeting, the spokesperson for University of Michigan said after being questioned about our members’ statement to the regents, “well, we pay competitive salaries.” Stevens, I’ll give you credit for this. What does competitive salaries mean? You pay to to get the best. You pay to be competitive. Does the University of Michigan pay competitive salaries? At UC-Irvine $87,195 is the average salary for non-tenure track faculty. At UC-Berkeley, it is $83,848; at University of Connection, $76,667; at University of Massachusetts-Amherst, $71,924. At the University of Michigan, it is $62,694. We’re $25,000 below the average salary at UC-Berkeley. If you take in private universities, when we say the leaders and the best, we look at everything. At Harvard, it is $90,000-100,000; at MIT, $90,000-100,000; at Yale, $85,000; at Cornell, $80,000; at Columbia, $80,000.[AE1]  It is inaccurate and a wrong statement to say we are paying competitive salaries.

Another thing, we made this point, and I want to say it again, you heard it in Amy’s remarks. Look at community colleges in the area, at what they’re paying. If I’m a parent, and I pay tuition that is dramatically less for my child to go to Washtenaw and Ford, and I pay dramatically higher tuition at University of Michigan, and I find out that the professor at the community college is paid double or more than double what my son or daughter’s professor is paid at the University of Michigan, I’m angry. Why I am paying that tuition?

At Washtenaw, the salary is $58,000 with a master’s degree, hiring in, day one. With a PhD, it’s $75k. How many of our members at Dearborn and Flint have PhDs and are not paid $35,000. This is why asking for $56,000 in Dearborn and Flint is very reasonable to me. I’ve said this to you before. Production workers at GM, Ford, and Chrysler are making far more than what our members in higher education with Master’s and PhDs are making. We need to fix this.

The other things we have to fix is job security. It tears me up to hear these stories, Amy’s and Aurora’s. It is absolutely wrong that we don’t give more opportunity to Lecturers to move to full time.

I’m in the community, and a number of us here are—President Schlissel, the provost, the CFO, all need to know that no one in the university’s community thinks this is fair or proper. You heard Heather Ann Thompson speak last week, and many other tenure-track faculty have been expressing outrage. Students are here today. Student government, too. We’re talking to students in our classes. Students are shocked and angry that their Lecturers, whom they respect and appreciate, that their dedication and service paid so little.

I’ll finish with this, please, I don’t want to see happen at University of Michigan what has happened in West Virginia. The administration there didn’t respond with equity and fairness, and the workers were forced to take strong job actions. We are financially strong. This administration, if they do the right thing, we can get a contract that everyone can be proud of. This is a national problem. We can set a standard for the rest of the country in how non-tenure-track faculty should be treated. I hope that you will join with us in talking to regents and the public in supporting University of Michigan in being the first and best in taking care of non-tenure-track faculty in a fair way so that we have wages above poverty level wages in the cities and counties we live in.

With that, Kirsten, do we want to pass out our proposal please?

[handing out Article XV]