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.


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
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?


On Striking Through

The writer Annie Dillard tells the story of the time she learned to split wood with an ax. She couldn’t do it till she realized that you needed to aim at the ground beneath the wood–not at the wood itself. Only then could she strike with the necessary intensity.

It seems like a law of adult life: everything hits at once. The month when your students need you the most is also the week when your volunteer commitments heat up, your boss at your side gig imposes twenty deadlines, the kids need you to go to their school play (or their rally to save America from gun-worship), and the LEO contract negotiations that may save you from that side gig get pretty crazy too.

But with all this, it’s important not to forget the bread-and-butter activity of a contract campaign: Going to bargaining! Friday is our last open bargaining session of the year, meaning you can invite your students, spouses, tenure-track friends, and other allies.

A big turnout on a day like this lets the administration know, as we go into a weekend that very likely eventuates in a strike, that LEO stands united, and that we carry the support of our allies.

Let’s keep the pressure on through the weekend. Let’s aim at the ground beneath.

Money Talks. What is Your University Saying?

If you support a just contract for Lecturers, let us know here: 

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 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:

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

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.

What does a 12+ year career at the University of Michigan-Flint look like?

We’ll be bargaining in Flint this Friday, with counterproposals from the University on salary. In this guest post, Stephanie Irwin-Booms, a Lecturer II at UM-Flint’s English Department reminds us why much higher salaries–and greater economic justice for lecs at all three campuses–will be a big part of any final contract that LEO signs on to. Be there on Friday to keep the pressure on!

It is sometimes hard to look at an experience with open eyes. When I think about my 12+ years at the University of Michigan-Flint, I am often only using one set of glasses: rose or pitch-dark.

Here is the view through the rose-colored classes. I have fond memories of my years at UM-Flint. The faculty and support staff are friendly and helpful. I have developed bonds that will last longer than my years as an instructor. The English Department faculty and staff helped me get 4 weeks off for the birth of my first son when it fell in the middle of a semester, as an emergency, two months earlier than planned. They also worked with me to get an online teaching schedule during the next semester when they didn’t have to do either. The University of Michigan-Flint allows me to support my family with medical and dental insurance. With a 7-year-old Autistic son, I have had to use all of my deductible several years running for his ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) Therapy. If I had a different insurance plan, I might have had to pay all of the cost out of pocket: instead of $3,000 in one year, it could have been $140,000.  I am the second longest running Writing Faculty member in our department, and I have plans to stay another 20+ years. Sometimes I end the story here. But this isn’t the whole story.

I started my time at UM-Flint in Fall 2000, before we had LEO on our side. I lost all winter classes three years in a row and was forced to drop UM-Flint as an option for several years. They were only offering me one or two classes in the fall, and I knew what that meant for the Winter. During those first couple of years, I felt disconnected from other employees and my department.

That did change in Fall 2006. I came back with 3 classes and had reasonable assurance that I would get classes in the Winter as well. As years went by, I wasn’t the instructor who got bumped anymore, and I built my reputation as a quality Lecturer. I have been a solid part of the Faculty since then, teaching a class during the summer as well. These changes were made possible because I was part of LEO.

I only took four weeks off when my first child was born, and I was even more calculating when I had the second. I planned for a summer birth, so I wouldn’t have to ask for time-off when it isn’t a guarantee for Lecturer I or IIs. I have always worked, so often the task of caring for my children fell on my support system: my mother-in-law and other close family. I know many who don’t have that option.

Today as a Lecturer II, I still make under $40,000 base pay after working for UM-Flint since Fall 2000. This means I have other part-time jobs to help me earn a living wage. I am the primary earner in my family, but my husband isn’t far behind. We both work what might be considered “overtime.” I have been an instructor for 7 colleges since I started my career in 2000. I have taught at over 20 different campuses in that time-frame as well. I am down to three now and have been for a while, but like many others, I stress over every semester and whether I will struggle to pay bills (including a student loan) and if I will be comfortable in my ability to balance my work life with that of a husband, 5 year old, and 7 year old special needs child.  

After my time at the University of Michigan-Flint, I see where we were and where we have yet to go. What do I deserve as long-running faculty member at a prestigious University? Will it be possible to be a Lecturer here and have that be my only job title? Can I do that and support my family? Will I ever move on to Lecturer III? Will someone value the education and hard-fought teaching experience I have developed in my career?

[OUR RESPONSE TO ADMIN] This is not business as usual. The exploitation of Lecturers cannot continue.

On Monday, February 12, University of Michigan administration finally came to the bargaining table to give Lecturers a counterproposal on our salary ask. Administration’s proposal for alleviating the extreme economic burden that Lecturers bear – despite their vital contribution to the core mission of the university – was absolutely pitiful.

The response from Kirsten Herold – LEO’s Vice President, Contract Administrator on Ann Arbor campus, and bargaining team manager (i.e., Superwoman) – made it clear to administration’s bargaining team that this disgraceful treatment of Lecturers cannot stand. Read the transcription (created by LEO’s bargaining team notetaker, staff organizer, and laid-off Lecturer Alex Elkins) of her blistering, incisive response below. And remember as you read: We will get what we are organized to win. We’re mad, and we need to show up and declare as loudly as possible that we will not accept this. Let’s do it together.


KH: All right, we’re not gonna thank you for your proposal. As far as we can tell your basic argument is you’ve exploited us for so long, you’re gonna keep exploiting us. You’re actually exploiting us more.

As I noted in my opening statement, in the last fourteen years, the salary minimums have gone up 11% in Ann Arbor, 14% in Dearborn, and 18% in Flint – and in that time period tuition has gone up about 90 percent. That means every year you make more money from our work. Our undergraduate students can expect to make much more than us – their first job offer is more than you pay us.

You talk about the market and what it can bear but there’s a lot of different ways to talk about the market. Universities have created the market. You turn out PhDs and then say we’re not gonna pay you. It’s completely disgusting. The numbers you gave us, the people here are insulted. Members who have – all they want to do is make $40,000 before they retire. Members cannot afford to have children. Members cannot afford to buy a home because under these salaries they can’t pay off their student debt. You bank on every year hiring 300 new people, a lot of turnover, and you bank on the fact that a lot of the people who stay long-term, they have a spouse who makes more money. You’re like Walmart — you’re expecting other area employers to subsidize your poor employment practices.

I’m going to respond to the specific pieces of your proposal.

You say minimums should go up. We agree with you on that. They need to go up a lot more than you offered.

As you put the annual raises, people will lose ground on their annual raises.

As far as long-term Lecturers, your statement that we’re not interested in equity adjustments and longevity raises, there are so many things you’re not interested in. It’s astonishing. Last time we bargained, you said you’re not interested in our proposals twenty-one times. People are literally losing money every year. We need to signal to you that wherever we end up on salary, long-term raises for people who’ve been here a long time will be part of the final package.

We’re gonna leave now. We’re not giving you Article XI. We’re extremely angry. This is not business as usual. That’s it.

[Lecturers stand up in unison and walk out]

Regents 101: Your Participation is Essential

Show Up! 

When: Thurs. Feb 15th: Grade-In (1-3pm); Press Conference (3:00PM-3:30PM); Regents’ Meeting  (3:30-5pm)

Where: The Anderson Room of the Michigan Union

WhyAfter a shameful salary counterproposal from the UM administration on Monday 2/12, it is time to RESPOND.

On Thursday, February 15th, our Lecturers and supporters will hold a Grade-In (1-3pm), Press Conference (3:00PM-3:30PM), and then attend and speak at the U of M Regents’ meeting (3:30-5pm) in the Anderson Room of the Michigan Union. We invite you to join us.

The Regents must see us and our allies and learn about the injustices suffered by lecturers and the unwillingness of the administration’s bargaining team to agree to meaningful changes in our contract. IF WE WANT TO WIN A FAIR CONTRACT, WE MUST SHOW UP AND BE HEARD BY THESE DECISION-MAKERS. There is no shortcut here. If we don’t do our part, we cannot expect the Regents to speak up for us.

Who are the Regents?  

Here is a bit about the 8 UM Regents, as taken from their website:

The University is governed by the Board of Regents, which consists of eight members elected at large in biennial state-wide elections. The president of the University serves as an ex officio member of the board. The Regents serve without compensation for overlapping terms of eight years. According to the Michigan Constitution of 1963, the Regents have “general supervision” of the institution and “the control and direction of all expenditures from the institution’s funds.”

What to expect at a Regents meeting

Regents’ Meetings follow an agenda that is made public a few days before the meeting Here’s the agenda for 2/15. It is normal for individuals and community members to address the Regents during the “Public Comment on Agenda-Related Items” part of the agenda. Look at their website where it says:

As a part of their regular monthly meeting agenda, the regents will set aside time for the purpose of enabling individuals to address the board. It should be understood that the board will not necessarily respond to such comments, since they may require study and recommendations on the part of the others at the University”

Meeting Schedule

Here’s the schedule for Thursday:

Call to Order

  • President’s Opening Remarks
  • Presentation: Annual Research Report
  • Public Comments on Agenda-Related Topics
  • Regular Business Agenda
    • We address the board at the end of public comments.

To recap:

On Thursday, February 15th, LEO members and allies will address the Regents to inform them about the shameful salary proposal the UM bargaining team offered this week. Come and go as your schedule allows. Wear your LEO T-shirt or button (we’ll have plenty for members and supporters). Ask your students and other allies to show up and support us.

You just need to show up.

For more info and to RSVP, visit the LEO Facebook event.




Call to Lecturers’ Allies: Administration’s Salary Proposal is an Insult to Us and You

Are you ready to fight for UM Lecturers?
On Monday night at 7:30PM, the University of Michigan administration let us know what they think of the work that Lecturers do for this institution. They let us know what they think of the $462 million in tuition revenue that the university makes off the labor of Lecturers every year. 
Tonight we received the University of Michigan administration’s first counterproposal on salary.
The minimum salary for full-time Lecturer work at the university is currently $34,500 in Ann Arbor; $28,300 in Dearborn; and $27,300 in Flint. These salaries are at least $10,000 below a living wage in Washtenaw County for any single- or dual-parent household with children. 
Since we began bargaining on October 27, 2017, the university’s bargaining team has heard from Lecturers who work 60 hour weeks, driving Uber in order to survive. They have heard about Lecturers who cannot afford to have children, or to ever dream of buying a home because they are paid such abysmal wages. 
Administration began their proposal by telling us that Lecturers cannot complain about this exploitation because with the current job market, they are more or less disposable. Here’s what they think we deserve:  
$1,000 increase in salary minimums in 2019, $750 in 2020, and only $500 in 2021. They actually proposed $500 as a legitimate salary increase. No longevity or equity raises for Lecturers who have worked at UM for 20 years, who can only hope of making a $40,000/yr salary by the time they retire. They think that in Ann Arbor, Lecturers should receive only a 1.5% annual raise. Outrageously, they insinuated that Lecturers are not faculty by suggesting that in Dearborn and Flint, annual raises should be “tied to ‘faculty’” – by which they actually mean, tenure-track. 
Our members are stunned, insulted, and outraged. In the past 14 years, Lecturers have seen a 11% overall raise in minimum salary. In that same time period, tuition has increased roughly 90%.  
This treatment of Lecturers is morally unjust. Is this who we are as a university and community? We need to tell administration NOW that no one is going to accept this.We need any ally in this community who thinks this is wrong to show up and help us amplify that message. Whether you are a student, a graduate student, university staff, or someone who just lives near one of the University of Michigan campuses, your presence matters and it is urgently needed this week.
This Thursday, February 15, Lecturers will be showing up to the meeting of the University of Michigan Board of Regents. The meeting is in the Anderson Room of the Michigan Union (530 S. State St). We will be staging a grade-in starting at 1:00PM and speaking at the meeting itself, which starts at 3:30PM. The more people who can fill the hallways and the meeting room in LEO shirts and buttons the better. Show up at any point between 1:00PM-3:30PM to grab a shirt and button and express your support, and try and get in the room if you can to attend the meeting itself. 
The Facebook event for this action is here:
Whether or not you can attend the Regents’ meeting, we’ll need your help and solidarity for the rest of this contract campaign (our current contract expires on April 20). We’re creating an action listserv for people to stay up to date on moments when their presence will be critical. We’ll never spam you or use your contact information for anything besides keeping you updated on our fight for a fair contract. 
If you support a just contract for Lecturers, let us know here: 

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. 

$1000 and Clarity

Tonight, we went to the bargaining table and received a counteroffer from the University on salary. You’ll get a detailed update from the bargaining team soon, with numbers and details. I’ll only say, speaking as one guy who was in the room, that tonight was immensely clarifying.

Our salary proposal struck the university’s bargaining team as ambitious and “imprudent.” In view of this institution’s annual endowment, what we asked for is comparable to the losses incurred by a slight correction in the stock market. Compared to the amount of revenue we generate for this university, it is hardly a large fraction. And yet they do not think we are worth it. They offered us an increase in starting salary of … around $1000.

We now know that for certain that the bargaining team does not think our labor is important to this university. We now know that we will have to demonstrate, over the course of the rest of this semester, that it is, and, if necessary, that the university cannot function for a moment without us. It’s good to have that question settled.

Tomorrow, from some other members of the communications team, you’ll be hearing about some ways that you can act this week to make that point, starting with a grade-in and the Regents’ Meeting Thursday afternoon! Be sure to block off some time that day. It’ll be well worth it.

It’s Time We All Agree: LEOs Are Worth Professional Respect

pride picMany in the UM-Dearborn community support lecturers because they recognize how lecturers contribute to campus in so many ways. Last fall, students, tenure-track faculty, and community leaders turned out to support LEO during the first bargaining session on the UMD campus. They spoke out and stood up in support of a fair contract that includes greater job security, professional respect, and increased pay.

LEO invites all allies, advocates, and supporters of holding UM admin accountable to #Respect the Lecs to participate in our campaign. Students, TT faculty, and community members know that lecturers are professionals who invest themselves in their students and the mission of the University. It’s time for UM admin to agree to treat LEOs as professionals and work to improve the contract to reflect that.

UM victor

Lecturers teach 51% of the credits on the UMD campus, which means that so many lecturers are responsible for the academic and professional successes of so many students. We want our students to learn well and go on to do great things. And together we can create change for the good: on our campus, in our communities, and in the world.