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!

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.

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.

Bargaining update 3/28 & 3/30: Some excellent movement on benefits, MUCH work left to do on salary

This update covers two bargaining sessions — Wednesday March 28 and Friday March 30 — since the pace of bargaining is quickening along with the pace of the semester in general.

Here’s a look at negotiations this past week; let’s use what we have to shed light on the University’s responsibility to those of us who too often have to burn our candles at both ends to support ourselves so we can support the U’s mission.

A one-sentence summary is that good progress was made on benefits and other non-salary issues, and that a little progress was made on salary for Ann Arbor.  

(Sorry for the level of detail in what follows, but as we get close to the end, it is important for members to have a clear understanding on where we are on the key issues.)

 

Salary

In their third salary proposal, there was only one significant change:

  • For Ann Arbor, the minimum starting salary went up fairly significantly for the first year ($34,500 to $40,000), plus another $1000 for 2019-20, and 2020-21, ending at $42,000 a year. Annual raises remain at 2.25% a year.
  • For Flint and Dearborn, admin offered no increases to starting salaries, which remain at $29,300/$30,300 for 2018-19, $31,300/$32,300 for 2019-20, and $34,000/ $33,000 for 2020-21, respectively. Annual raises remain tied to tenure-track faculty.

Management did indicate some interest in an equity increase for long-serving lecs (w/o committing to any specific sum of money) and asked for a small group discussion to lay out a “road map” for further discussion. During small group, some of the principles we discussed were the worry about compression (e.g. having a new hire make the same as someone in the fifth year), and the basic principle that if the mins go up by a certain amount, everyone else needs at least that same raise.  

Although all this is movement in the right direction, we are very far apart on reaching agreement on fair and equitable compensation.  

They told us that other than raising the mins they had no interest in doing anything for those who have not yet had both reviews, and we told them their position was unacceptable to our membership.

 

Everything Else

  1. On appointments, we are close to an agreement where lecs get an open-ended appointment after the first continuing review, and reframing that review, which will occur every seven years, as more of a professional development opportunity, rather than an evaluation.
  2. We also have an agreement that lecs will no longer have to submit materials already in the department’s possession (student evals and classroom observations) for their reviews, hence avoiding the several hundred page long review files.  
  3. For benefits we have gained two big concessions and several smaller ones:  Summer benefits for those who are at 50+% for winter and have a confirmed benefits eligible fall appointment, AND averaging of benefits, for those who average a 50% appt for the year.
  4. On bereavement leave, they agreed to our proposal of an extra two days of paid leave (for a total of five days) when there are extenuating circumstances, such as travel, for the death of a loved one.
  5. They agreed to include assuming legal guardianship of a child up to 6 (or a disabled child up to 12) as a ground for an unpaid leave of absence.
  6. Finally, they agreed to pay for benefits for a long serving lec (i.e., someone who has passed two major reviews) who take a one-semester professional leave (aka “sabbatical lite”).  
  7. And we are very close to agreement on a professional development fund and a diversity in teaching fund.  

 

So what remains on the table, apart from salary? (See a detailed table of each proposal’s status here.)

  1. Admin remains adamantly opposed to letting units who want to use the title of “teaching professor.”
  2. Admin remains opposed to our child-care proposal and any kind of parental accommodation either for birth mothers who are not eligible for long-term sick or for non-birth parents.
  3. They object to our proposal that lecs need input into the reviews of their supervisor.
  4. We are still working on ways to diversify lecturer hiring.

 

We have added additional bargaining sessions before this Friday’s OPEN BARGAINING in Ann Arbor:

  • Tuesday, April 3rd: Starting at 4:30 and continuing as long as necessary (at Academic HR in the Administrative Services Bldg., 1009 Greene St.)
  • Wednesday, April 4th: Starting at 4:30 and continuing as long as necessary (TBD, but near the Michigan League to facilitate transit to and from the GMM #3)

 

We also have three crucial General Membership Meetings–one on each campus.

You do NOT have to attend the meeting on the campus where you teach. You’re welcome at ANY location, depending on what corresponds best with your schedule:

Flint: Monday, April 2nd, 6:30-7:30 PM, at the IBEW Hall (1251 W Hill Rd, Flint, MI 48507)

Dearborn: Tuesday, April 3rd, 5:00-6:00 PM, at 1030 CB (Mary Kochoff Auditorium, CASL) — NOT Kochoff Hall in the University Center!

Ann Arbor: Wednesday, April 4th, 6:00-7:00 PM, in the Ballroom on the second floor of the Michigan League (911 N Univ Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48109) — NOT Rogel Ballroom in the Michigan Union!

 

Please check your schedules and attend as many sessions and meetings and functions as you can!

Many are open to allies. All are open to LEO members!

The time is now. What could become the home stretch is here, provided we keep amassing and even increasing our support at this critical juncture.

 

“You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Room.” -Chief Brody

Will this be it? The last bargaining session? If so, it’s time to rally, time to gather, time to come together and make one last, enormous show of support for a fairer, more equitable, and overall great contract for U-M lecturers!

I wrote a possibly lovely, arguably clever, yet certainly long-winded introduction to writing about the next regularly-scheduled bargaining session. But let’s not bury the lead too much: Next Friday, April 6, will mark the third and final OPEN bargaining session, running from about 10 AM until about 5 PM. It will NOT take place in Palmer Commons. Instead, bargaining will take place in the Michigan Room on the second floor of the Michigan League (911 N. University Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48109. There’s also a MUCH-smaller Michigan Room in the Michigan Union on S. State St., but we’ll be at the Michigan LEAGUE.)

This may be the final bargaining session before LEO membership partakes in a major job action, so the agenda could be quite something! Events are speeding up!

Keep in mind that each open-bargaining session is a very big deal, perhaps most visibly on the University of Michigan’s biggest campus, in Ann Arbor. On open-bargaining days, more of us lecturers come. On open-bargaining days, we’re joined in the bargaining room by our allies who have “a direct interest in the working conditions of lecturers.”

We’re joined by our students who understand that we care deeply about teaching them, about being compensated enough to afford to keep teaching them here at U-M.

We’re joined by our tenure-track-faculty allies, our fellow educators.

We’re joined by our family members who rely on our hopefully-regular paychecks and benefits.

We’re joined by allies from fellow U-M unions, like the nurses’ union, which is also bargaining its new contract at this time.

On the last open-bargaining date, March 16, the number of attendees was around 250 — not a bad turnout! True, we had to order extra pizza to feed everyone. True, the fire code limited the number of chairs in the bargaining room and the number of people who could sit on each chair. True, also because of the fire code, a number of people had to stand or sit in the sixth-floor caucus room or the hall outside, at least until more chairs opened up in the fourth-floor bargaining room, Great Lakes Central* in Palmer Commons.

But ultimately, LEO truly generated a lot of visible, audible support on that day, just as it did in Dearborn on March 9, the first open bargaining day, and in Flint on March 23.

Again, open bargaining is a very big deal. So let’s take advantage of it! Invite your students! Invite your colleagues! Invite any U-M parents and/or alums that you know! This will probably be the last chance for many who care about the lecturers in their lives to watch history be made regarding the working conditions of U-M’s thousands of lecturers.

Let’s each fill a seat, get something to eat, and help support LEO to negotiate a contract that can’t be beat!

************

* – According to the numbers I ran across, the Michigan Room in the Michigan League has a maximum capacity of 125, which is thirty-five fewer than Great Lakes Central. So don’t worry if you can’t stay all day. Plenty of people should be waiting outside to fill that seat! In fact, there’s a certain beauty to supporters coming and going in waves, like an ocean of well-wishing and witnessing, washing away at the shore…

Image: Kirsten Herold, captain of The LEO Bargaining Team, leads a caucus discussion during Ann Arbor’s first open bargaining session.

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!

A Wrinkle in Time: Now’s Your Chance to Attend!

As we head ever closer to the event horizon of the April 20 contract end date and its mighty gravitational pull, time simultaneously seems to shrink and dilate. Days that once held one meeting now squeeze in three or four meetings, maybe more, and feel much longer than before. And weeks formerly with one bargaining date now contain two or three bargaining dates. In short, the process of negotiating a complex contract by two parties representing very distinct interests both obeys and apparently transgresses the laws of physics.

But I teach in the English department and understand poetry better than space-time, so I could be wrong.

What remains undeniably true is that as we approach April and the prospect of a major job action, the schedule of important events fills up faster. Over the next few weeks, there really will be additional, ad-hoc bargaining sessions to resolve both non-economic and economic issues. Lecturers, we need to be at these sessions, too! Perhaps especially those who haven’t been able to attend Friday’s regular sessions can now support the LEO bargaining team and pay heed to the ongoing negotiations on one or more of these extra occasions. Allies, we continue to appreciate deeply your interest in our professional welfare, and hope to keep seeing you during the regular times (10ish to 5ish) on Fridays, usually in the caucus room but in the bargaining room itself on April 6!

The first extra bargaining session will occur VERY soon, TODAY, Wednesday, March 28, in the South Room of the Administrative Services Building (1009 Greene St., at Hoover). There’s metered parking in the lot across the street, and parking for those of us with U-M stickers in the two lots behind the football stadium. Bargaining will start at 3:30 PM and proceed until an undetermined time in the evening. The front doors should remain open till 5 PM.  As we enter, we’ll head right through the double doors and be directed by a receptionist if we see no LEO people to guide us. Let’s get some lecturers’ eyes and ears in that room! Why not yours?

Next week, extra bargaining is expected to occur on two days, Tuesday, April 3, and Wednesday, April 4, also in the late afternoons and evenings. Locations for both days TBD. Note that Wednesday’s session may occur both before and after the third, strikingly important General Membership Meeting in Ann Arbor (6:00-7:00 PM in the Ballroom (Floor 2) of the Michigan League, 911 N. University Ave.)!

tl:dr — Extra bargaining sessions kick off today at 3:30 PM at Academic HR and will continue next week on Tuesday and Wednesday.

 

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!

Bargaining Update 3/23: Some Movement on Non-Economics, but More Peanuts for Salary

For most people, peanuts are delicious. For most people, peanuts don’t trigger anaphylaxis. Most people can eat whole bags of them without gasping in shock.

Still, one cannot live on peanuts alone. And there was a lot of gasping in Flint last Friday because of them.

We began the day by delivering proposals on both of the packages management had delivered so far: Package A (a memorandum on articulating some sort of bridge between the I/II and III/IV tracks, as well as articles on appointments, layoff, recall, and performance evaluations) and Package B (agreements to help part-timers with appointments and benefits, plus articles on posting, benefits eligibility and plans, sick pay, modified duties, and unpaid leaves of absences). Our cover sheets often read, “We [LEO] accept your [management’s] language.” We accommodated and facilitated. We bargained in a spirit of compromise. And we made progress as management seemed to understand at least some of our concerns.

DSC_0218

The march and rally following the morning session rivaled the most recent Ann Arbor march in size and volume. People were fired up, and we learned to better appreciate how the situation of UM-Flint and its lecturers reflected the plight not only of lecturers on all three campuses, but also of the greater Flint-area community. We heard from a political candidate, fellow lecturers, and a representative from a sister union. The final speeches by Flint campus chair Stephanie Gelderloos and by Residential College lecturer Bob King particularly struck loud, resonant chords with the hundred-plus people gathered together.

In the afternoon, after another set of compelling testimonials from lecturers, management presented their long awaited second counter to our salary proposal, now packaged with provisions for professional development and DEI initiatives. They again figuratively tossed us peanuts, this time a double handful instead of a single one, but still not anything approximating a healthy diet of compensation for any LEO lion (or hardworking professional academic Wolverine).

More specifically, while management did agree to raise starting salaries for each new lecturer by $5500 over three years, it would be business as usual for current lecs on all three campuses, with annual raises tied to the tenure-track in Flint and Dearborn (usually between 2 and 3%) and 2.25% for Ann Arbor — just about keeping up with the projected 2018 inflation rate. There would be no additional raises for any current LIIs or IVs (and many LIs and IIIs). And they refused to even entertain the possibility of any kind of equity adjustment for long-time lecs. Management offered no cogent response when we openly asked, Why don’t you want us to make decent livings? Their rationale for the missing planks in their counterproposal was also somewhat less than compelling:

Admin: We believe the focus should still remain on annual increases and minimum salaries. That’s where the focus has been, and we feel it should remain there.

LEO: Why should it remain there?

Admin: I’ll have to get back to you. We feel that when we spend the money, that’s where the money should be.

LEO: We need to caucus.

And so we caucused. After taking a moment to gasp at the underwhelming provisions of the second counterproposal, those gathered in the bargaining room considered how to respond, eventually deciding to tweak a couple of packaged items while once again presenting our original salary proposal. We returned our slightly amended Package C to management once they returned to the room, giving them one more chance to do right by us.

But it’s not all up to management, far from it. It’s time for us — lecturers and allies alike — to ratchet up the pressure.

DSC_0099

So what do we do next?

  1. We need to display our strength in numbers at bargaining. In addition to the regular Friday sessions, there will be a number of extra ones (open to all U-M lecturers) squeezed in at odd places and times, since both management and we would like to wrap up negotiations before the spring/summer break. The first extra session will take place on Wednesday, March 28, starting at 3:30 PM, location tba. We are hoping to settle most of the remaining non-financial issues.  Keep checking social media (Facebook, Twitter, LEO Matters blog) for more up-to-date details about each upcoming extra session.
  2. On Thursday, March 29, beginning at 2:00 PM outside the Anderson Room of the Michigan Union, we will hold a grade-in to demonstrate our contributions to the university. Come join us! At 3:30, the Regents’ Meeting will take place inside the Anderson Room, where community voices will speak out, in favor of our ongoing campaign for a better, more equitable contract. Those who ultimately control the university’s pursestrings must see us and hear us!
  3. This coming Friday, March 30, the site of regular bargaining shifts back to Ann Arbor, back to Palmer Commons on the 4th and 6th floors, from roughly 10 AM to 5 PM. Although it won’t be an open session, so only lecturers will be allowed in the bargaining room (4th floor), allies are always welcome in the caucus rooms on the 6th floor, where we will meet, eat, and discuss proposals. This is another great opportunity to watch, listen, and otherwise bear witness to the truth! (Parents and guardians — there will be child care available!)

Let’s help shift a paradigm together! In short, let’s save the peanuts for the circus.