Steven Toth’s Statement to Admin, Feb 23rd Bargaining

Hello, my name is Steven Toth, and I am a LEO Lecturer I in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry on the Flint campus.  I earned my Bachelor’s degree and PhD both from The University of Toledo.  I am in my third year of teaching at UM-Flint.  I typically teach large-lecture classes, such as General Chemistry 1 and General Chemistry 2, as well as many lab courses.

In my 7 semesters at UM-Flint I have taught 11 different classes.  Sometimes, I even have the most students of any faculty member in my department for a given semester.  In my time at UM-Flint I have received many teaching awards, including 11 golden apple award nominations from students.  My full time appointment salary is $28,100.

In the past 2 years, my department has had both a LEO Lecturer IV and a longtime LEO Lecturer II retire and a LEO Lecturer III leave to get a higher paying job at Mott Community College, but the University has refused to fill these any of these vacancies with a new LEO Lecturer III post.  As a result, as a LEO Lecturer I, I have taught overload for 5 of the 7 semesters I have worked on campus.

In addition to this, to supplement my income I have worked part-time at Mott Community College, Washtenaw Community College, and even The University of Michigan Dearborn Campus.  I am fortunate that my department chair has allowed me to do this.  Because Mott values my length-of-service and my PhD degree, My part-time salary at Mott community college–teaching only two classes–is almost equal to my full time salary at UM-Flint.

The administration has signaled that there does not need to be a significant base salary increase for lecturers.  I once heard from an administrator that even though our salary is considerably lower than other colleges, they still get a large pool of applicants for any lecturer job posting, so therefore there is no need to increase the base salary.  In the three years I have been at UM-Flint we have had to hire three Lec I’s.  Two have left to get higher paying jobs.  One was a last-minute hire because we did not have a good applicant pool, and they had to be let go.  There were no qualified applicants this time around, so I again went on overload to cover the class.  The cycle for finding more Lec I’s will continue, and I can only assume that my fellow colleagues are tired of the job volatility and having to constantly train a new workforce each semester.

While I am fortunate enough to typically have over a 100% appointment, as well as my income from working part-time at other colleges, I am still living paycheck-to-paycheck along with my Husband, who is a researcher and part-time LEO Lec I on the Ann Arbor campus.

I am 30 years old and I haven’t taken a vacation in 8 years, am nowhere near being able to purchase a house, and haven’t saved a single dollar towards retirement. 

You may ask, “why would someone with a PhD continue to work for such a low yearly salary?”.  Well, I continue to work at UM-Flint because I genuinely love my job.  I wake up every morning happy to go to work, and I work with students, staff, and faculty members that I care about a great deal.  I am incredibly happy.  Unfortunately, however, happiness cannot pay the bills, and I want to work at a job that supports my personal and professional ambitions.  I worked hard to get my PhD, and I would like to work at an institution that values my degree more than $30,000 a year.

Thank you to the LEO bargaining team for your continued efforts.  I hope the administration is committed to working together for a brighter future for the lecturers on all campuses.