University of Michigan Donors – ACT NOW!

Anyone who regularly donates or has ever donated to the University of Michigan has power to help us get a fair contract. This letter provides two templates: 1) a letter for you to reach out to potential donors whom you might know, and 2) a template for you and them to reach out to the University Regents, President, and Provost to tell them that you will not donate to the University again until Lecturers have a fair contract.

PDF VERSION
EASY-TO-COPY/PASTE VERSION

If you are a donor, 1) write to the University leadership yourself, then 2) forward this template to everyone you know who might be able to use it. If you are not a donor, forward the template anyway to ask donors you might know to use it.

Please do this today if you believe that we are the Leaders and Best and that the education that we received from University of Michigan is worth more. It is an embarrassment for any faculty at this renowned institution to rely on food stamps and other public assistance, or work 2-4 jobs, to support their families. The working conditions of our high-caliber faculty are the learning conditions of current University of Michigan students. We owe it to future generations to use our power and Build a Better Blue.

 

#SOS #ShameOnSchlissel – ACTION NOW!

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel continues to deny living wages and equitable compensation to Lecturers, the non-tenure track faculty at the University of Michigan who generate $462 million in tuition revenue each year. Most egregiously, Schlissel is determined to direct far fewer resources to Lecturers on UM Dearborn and Flint campuses. Contact him RIGHT NOW to tell him this is unacceptable. He must listen to the Board of Regents, who have been clear in their support and respect for our fight for a fair contract.

Use this phone #: 734-890-5169
Email: presoff@umich.edu
Twitter: @DrMarkSchlissel

  1. Tell Schlissel to give us a fair contract with living wages on ALL THREE campuses, by the end of April.
  2. Let him know in your call/email/Tweet what leverage you have to care about this issue. Are you a donor? Tuition payer? Michigan taxpayer? Do you have press contacts that you’ll use? Are you planning on attending the May 17 Regents Meeting? Tell him this so he knows to listen up.
  3. Pick one of the following issues that remain unresolved at the bargaining table and let him know that it matters to you:
    *UM continues to unfairly disadvantage Dearborn and Flint Lecturers/campuses
    *Minimum salaries are still hovering near $40k/yr for Ann Arbor and $30k/yr for Dearborn and Flint
    *Equity compensation for long-exploited Lecs remains minimal
    *Admin refuses to approve a working title change to Teaching Professor to A) reflect the respect we deserve and B) make it possible to continue recruiting high-caliber faculty

Can you call TODAY?

 

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.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Potential LEO Two-Day Work Stoppage

Lecturers have been taking action: showing up to bargaining, attending regents’ meetings, and making other public statements about our situation. In response, administration has started improving their financial offer, but not by enough. Over 80% of LEO members responding to electronic ballot voted last week to authorize the bargaining team and elected Union Council to call the work stoppage on April 9 and 10 if we don’t see significant improvement on our most important demands. Administration is moving because we’ve built a movement; let’s see it through.

What is “the contract”? Why is there a campaign for a contract?

“The contract” is the general term for the collective bargaining agreement between the union and the university. During negotiations for a new contract, the union engages in a “campaign,” a series of events designed to show power and encourage the university to sign a favorable contract.

When does the current contract expire?

April 20, 2018.

What events has the union planned as a part of the campaign?

We’ve had rallies, opened bargaining sessions to our allies, held grade-ins and spoken publicly at Board of Regents meetings, and marched on the Diag. So far, 375 members have attended at least one bargaining session. We’ll hold another bargaining session open to allies this Friday, April 6, at the Michigan League on Ann Arbor’s campus.

How will we decide whether we actually do the work stoppage?

A lot is happening this week. We’ll bargain at least three more times with administration (Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday). We’ll also hold membership meetings in Flint (Monday), Dearborn (Tuesday) and Ann Arbor (Wednesday) to give members the latest information from the bargaining table. Members will vote at these meetings on the decision-making process we’ll use in the final hours leading up to the potential Monday-morning work stoppage.

Wouldn’t a strike be illegal?

While there’s a law in Michigan that says public employees cannot go on strike, and our current contract contains language that we won’t strike during it, we’re compelled to take action after months of administration not making movement towards our proposals. LEO and GEO have waged strikes in our past; no one was ever disciplined for taking part in these actions.

We have bipartisan support on the Board of Regents, which is a huge deal. At the regents’ meeting last week, Democrat Regent Mark Bernstein said, “I want to declare publicly and proudly solidarity with our Lecturers.” And Republican Regent Andrea Fischer Newman said that LEO had put our issues on the table “in a thoughtful and collaborative way…in a way that makes us want to work with you, that makes us sympathetic to what you’ve brought forward.” The regents are the bosses of our bosses. What they say matters. A lot.

What about the picketing? What will that look like?

Members will carry signs and engage in chants at selected building entrances, loading docks, and construction sites. A picket line must always be moving, or else we would be considered to be blocking entrances. We don’t want to prevent anyone from entering buildings, but we do want to disrupt normal operations. Each site will have a picket captain, someone in charge of making certain that the picket functions properly and members are arriving for scheduled shifts.

Why loading docks and construction sites?

This is about disruption of normal business operations for the university. We’ve spoken with many of the unions involved in construction and delivery, and they’ve agreed not to cross the picket line, even though it might be mean losing a day’s pay for their own members. This is one way that unions show solidarity.

What if I am hesitant to join in the job action because I do not want to hurt my students?

Lecturers’ very low pay and lack of respect from the administration already hurts students.  Dramatically raising our pay will dramatically improve the quality of education we can provide for students.  This is why so many students and all three campus student governments have taken strong public positions in favor of LEO’s bargaining proposals and this job action.

How can I join the walkout?

Sign up to be a picket captain or for a shift on the line! You can do so here: leounion.wordpress.com/petitions.

A walkout means you won’t hold your classes on April 9th and 10th, at any point in the day. By not crossing our picket lines, you honor the commitment of your colleagues to an equitable contract, and the solidarity of other unions who are not crossing our picket lines.

Two More Extra Bargaining Sessions

There will be two extra bargaining sessions next week, sessions which any U-M lecturer may attend. Both sessions will start at 4:30 PM and take place in Ann Arbor.

The first extra session next week will be on Tuesday, April 3, at the Administrative Services Building (home of Academic Human Resources), , on the southeast corner of Hoover. The meeting will probably take place in the South Room. (And if you attend, whatever you do, don’t touch the markers!)

The second extra session next week will be on Wednesday, April 4, on Central Campus somewhere — we’re hoping a place close enough for us to zip to and from the third Ann Arbor General Membership Meeting in the Ballroom of the Michigan League at 6:00 PM. Once again — go to extra bargaining at 4:30 somewhere, hustle to the League ballroom by 6, and then go back to the first place at 7ish to wrap up bargaining for the day. Keep your eyes peeled on social media (Facebook, Twitter, this blog) to discover the location of “somewhere,” once this location has been determined.

LEO members, we each still play an important role in demonstrating the frankly impressive levels of support and interest that have marked this bargaining campaign. Let’s keep coming to bargaining, even on these weird off days, especially insofar as they fit our schedules better than the regular Friday sessions. Let’s keep contributing to this collective endeavor, this perfect storm of opportunity! We can do it, together! Inch by inch. yard by yard, week by week, we ARE doing it!

Money Talks. What is Your University Saying?

If you support a just contract for Lecturers, let us know here: bit.ly/act4lecs 

How do we as a community – Lecturers, students, graduate students, tenure track faculty, tax payers, etc. – make university administration realize that we will not accept anything less than an equitable contract for Lecturers?

On Friday, March 23, while bargaining at UM Flint, we received University of Michigan administration’s second counterproposal on salary in our contract negotiations.

They offered:

  • $2,000 raises to minimum salaries in 2019 and 2020
  • 2.25% annual raises over 3 years in Ann Arbor
  • No additional raises, such as equity adjustments for Lecturers already above minimums (even if just barely)

With this proposed salary package, Lecturers in Ann Arbor would only see salary minimums reaching $40,000 in 2021, the last year of the contract. Dearborn Lecturers would see a minimum of $34,000 by 2021, and Flint Lecturers would only reach $33,000 salary minimums in 2021.

Money Talks. This is what your university is saying.

You’ve heard these numbers again and again, but they just can’t be stressed enough. In the 2016-2017 academic year, Lecturers generated $462 million in tuition revenue for this university. In that same year, the university spent $85 million on salaries and benefits for all 1,700 Lecturers and their dependents. That means the university made a profit of $377 million off of Lecturers’ labor. 

You might have some questions. Questions like: 

How does it make sense to spend $15 million on a new clubhouse for the golf course (check out the notes from the last UM Regents’ Meeting), and offer $33,000 full-time salaries to members of a group responsible for generating $462 million in revenue?

If the university has one President and one Board of Regents, why does administration continue to use the idea of artificial “silos” between all three campuses to justify paying lower wages and directing fewer resources to Flint and Dearborn campuses?

If the university loves to use statistics from the Flint and Dearborn campuses to boost the appearance of diversity across the university, why is there no DEI money allocated to Flint or Dearborn campuses to SUPPORT those students?

But of course, the biggest and best question is…

Students have stood behind us every step of the way. We had 120+ allies with us at open bargaining on March 16. We have nearly 1,300 signatures on the petition started by students and other allies. At this point, the university administration’s disrespect for Lecturers is ALSO extreme disrespect for every person who has stood up so far to say: I want my teachers to be compensated fairly. I want my tuition to go toward my education. I want my tax dollars to prevent the exploitation of labor. I want my colleagues to receive the respect I know they deserve.

…So, how do we make university administration realize that we as a community – Lecturers, students, graduate students, tenure track faculty, tax payers, etc. – will not accept anything less than an equitable contract for Lecturers?

Great question. We have to keep putting the pressure on. We have to show that our community is behind Lecturers until the very end. Here’s how:

1. Sign up to join us on our picket lines in solidarity at leounion.wordpress.com/petitions. Having allies sign up for picket shifts A) helps us to make our presence constant and unmissable on our campus in the event of a walkout, and B) helps demonstrate the kind of solidarity power we have in our community.

2. Attend the LEO Talks to the UM Regents’ Meeting and Grade-In THIS THURSDAY, 3/29, 2:00PM-3:00PM at the Michigan Union. At our last grade-in at a regents’ meeting, we had over 75 allies come out to show support. Can we double that number this week, in light of another miserable counterproposal on salary from administration? See details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1970825376514922/

3. Attend our next and last open bargaining session on Friday, April 6 (location TBA).

4. SPREAD THE WORD
This information needs to reach every member of our community. Spread this post to any and all listservs you’re in touch with. Tell your friends. Post on social media (#respectthelecs). The university administration should be ashamed to exploit labor so readily. Let’s make their greed and immorality public knowledge.

Ballots & Meetings & Walkouts, Oh My!

Time to Vote!

As of Sunday, March 25, an electronic ballot has been sent to all union members in good standing, asking whether to authorize the union leadership to propose a major two-day job action. These ballots will be accepted until noon, Wednesday, March 28.

Depending on the results of the electronic ballots, we will hold a third, even more crucial round of General Membership Meetings during the first week of April.

  1.    The Flint GMM #3 will be on Monday, April 2, from 6:30 to 7:30 PM;
  2.    the Dearborn GMM #3 will be on Tuesday, April 3, from 5:00 to 6:00 PM;
  3.    and the Ann Arbor GMM #3 will be Wednesday, April 4, from 6:00 to 7:00 PM.

All locations are currently TBD, so keep checking your email and LEO social media!

At these third General Membership Meetings, we will vote on taking a major job action on Monday, April 9, and Tuesday, April 10. (Although this job action has been called a “walkout,” it goes far beyond walking out of class to gather outside for a few minutes! It will be a widespread, all-day affair on all three campuses on both days.)

Time to Sign and to Sign UP!

Hundreds have already signed the petitions. Hundreds have already signed up for picket shifts, just in case we commit to the job action. (Preparation is at least half the battle!) But we’d love to stand thousands strong. We want a mighty and lasting movement, not a valiant moment! If you haven’t already, speed over to https://leounion.wordpress.com/petitions/ to sign the walkout petition (lecturers), the Change.org petition (both allies and lecturers), and the picket-shift form (again, both lecturers and allies). We get what we are organized to win. Let’s get organized!

4 Lessons for #Umich from West Virginia

The just-concluded teachers’ strike in West Virginia is historic. At a time when labor power is assumed to be on the decline — and when many worry that the upcoming Supreme Court decision in Janus vs. AFSCME will gut public-sector unions throughout the country — it’s a big victory for teachers, for West Virginia public employees, and really for anyone who works for a living. In particular, it reminds us of four things that workers are all too prone to forget.

  • If you’re being badly underpaid, and the resources are there, a big raise is both reasonable and doable. The West Virginia teachers asked for a five percent raise. That sounded ambitious to some people, but in the end, the state granted it not only to them, but to all the state’s public employees, and fairly quickly too. (The state is currently refusing to tax various energy companies that can’t exist without WV’s natural resources.) Similarly, the cost of the pay increase we’re asking for at all three campuses has surprised some members of the administration’s bargaining team. But as large as it may be, it barely rises to the level of a market correction for a school with an $11 billion endowment (over twice the size of the budget for the entire state of West Virginia, by the way). As the writer Marilynne Robinson once remarked, “Plainly bookkeeping is as expressive of cultural values as any other science.” Management will always credit to hard math what is actually about politics and morals: how much do we actually value teaching? How much can we make those who pay our checks value it?
  • When workers fight for themselves in the right way, they fight for everybody. The West Virginia situation makes this pretty explicit: the teachers won a raise that will apply to every public employee. But more generally: every time a group of workers reminds a large, powerful institution who it really exists for — whether that institution is a state government that has turned into an energy-sector-lobbyist’s paradise or a “state” university that sometimes seems to forget about students, teachers, and classrooms — it’s a victory for every worker.
  • Workers have power. The West Virginia strike continued even over the objections of union leadership, who reached a tentative and seemingly toothless deal last week, which the membership promptly rejected.
  • Go big or go home. The West Virginia strike worked in part because the teachers abandoned an early plan to do a rolling strike — a handful of school districts at a time — and simply all went off the job en masse. The scale of the strike also meant that its technical illegality didn’t matter. They can’t fire everyone.

All the odds, all the calculation, all the political conventional wisdom went against these teachers. But they won. So can we.

See you at Open Bargaining on Friday. And at the membership meetings next week.

For more on this inspiring and historic strike, see here, here, here for some historical context, and here for a sense of why West Virginia is only the beginning.

West Virginia and Us: Back to the Fight

I almost began this post by writing “welcome back from Spring Break,” but of course, if you’re a teacher, you don’t really get a break. How did you spend your week away from classes? I graded, finished three pieces of writing, got notes back on two more, and moved house. Nobody becomes a teacher because they don’t enjoy work.

But as I did all that, I took every opportunity I could to read up on the incredibly inspiring teachers’ strike happening in West Virginia. Here’s a good overview. Part of what’s inspiring to me about the situation is the sheer determination of these workers. When their union reached an “agreement” with the state of West Virginia that didn’t have majority support, they went right on striking. I hope we’ll see the same level of determination from teachers in Oklahoma, one of the most exploitative states in the union, who seem to be mulling a strike of their own.

But what’s also inspiring to me about recent events in West Virginia is the way that, even as they planned to withhold their labor (the only thing a worker can withhold) from a system that exploits and abuses it, the West Virginia teachers reminded us what a teacher’s heart looks like. They knew that school cancellations would prevent many needy students from getting what was in some cases their only meal of the day. So they packed lunches for those students, by the thousands. 

That’s who teachers are.

The West Virginia teachers, and maybe now the Oklahoma teachers, are doing their part and more to raise the price of their labor, improve students’ learning conditions (which are their working conditions), and redistribute power in their states from a self-interested governing elite to the people who do the actual work of building a civilization.

Are you ready to do yours?

Yes, We Can! How Lecturers AND Allies Can Build Power

The time to act is now.

This is our best shot to get a #faircontract4lecs. We CAN build the power to do it – here’s how.

Even when you don’t feel brimming with time and energy, even when your personal bandwidth seems narrow and clogged, you can still help LEO to claim the compensation Lecturers have deserved, continue to deserve, and will keep deserving for decades.

We invite Lecturers and allies to check out our Power Building Toolkit. This toolkit contains materials and instructions for how you can spread the word about our fight for a fair contract and help us build power within the university and larger community. Our asks are simple but make a big difference.

Link to sign up for the LEO listserv? You’ve got it!

Brief but action-packed PowerPoint presentation? You’ve got it!

Pithy but potent flyer for students and similar potential allies? You’ve got it!

A letter template to customize and send to tenure-track faculty? You’ve got it!

Access to brilliantly eye-catching door signs for days? You’ve got it!

Although none of us can do it alone, we sure as hell can do it together.

-John F. Buckley