Q: What does it mean that we didn’t sign a contract during winter semester?
A: It means that bargaining will continue into the summer. While we may come to an informal agreement with the administration over the summer, we cannot reach an official tentative agreement (TA) on a collective bargaining agreement (CBA, or the contract).
Q: Why can’t we set a tentative agreement over the summer?
A: According to LEO’s constitution, we can only reach a TA during the Fall and Winter semesters. We made this change so that when we vote to ratify a TA as our official contract, we would have the largest group of members possible participating in bargaining. We want to reach an informal agreement that LEO members will ratify at the start of the Fall semester.
Q: What are we still negotiating about?
A: We are still negotiating about the two major economic issues, minimum salary and equity. The minimum salaries for Flint and Dearborn have not moved nearly as much as we’d like. The administration did offer an increase, but it was still too small. In addition, it continued to disadvantage Dearborn and Flint.
Q: Are there any non-economic issues left on the table?
A: Yes. We are not giving up on our proposal to give departments the option to use the working title of Teaching Professor for lecs. The administration claims that some departments are adamantly opposed to the idea of calling lecturers “Professor.” We may wind up needing to settle this one as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that would allow select departments to use the title.
Q: When will bargaining happen this summer? What’s the plan going forward?
A: We won’t be bargaining on a weekly basis, as we have in Fall and Winter. We expected to have a TA by this point, and several members of the bargaining team have already scheduled travel. The teams will be meeting for bargaining sporadically, though. When we do bargain, we will provide as much advance notice as possible and send out announcements by email, Facebook, Twitter, and perhaps even by text. Lecs need to be in the room for summer bargaining!
Q: What else can we do?
A: Lots! This campaign is not done! We have several actions coming up. On May 17, the Board of Regents will be meeting in Dearborn. We need a large and active presence at the meeting and for a rally beforehand. All available Lecs should calendar the Regents’ meeting in Ann Arbor on June 21st, too.
Q: The Board of Regents? Really? We’ve been to their meetings twice already, and it hasn’t seemed to help.
A: It definitely has helped. As you recall, at the last Board meeting, Regent Mark Bernstein spoke out as an ally of Lecturers at UM. He wasn’t alone – Andrea Fischer Newman, a Republican Regent, spoke up, too. The Regents we’ve spoken with are sympathetic, and they have real leverage in these upcoming negotiations. Specifically, they will be approving the university’s annual budget at the June 21 Board meeting in Ann Arbor. We need to keep working with them to convince university administration to adequately—and fairly!–budget for Lecs at all three campuses.
Q: What happens if the Regents refuse to sign the budget? Will UM shut down?
A: No. The university will continue to operate, but the administration will have to present a new budget.
Q: Is that all? Are the Regents our only hope?
A: No! The Contract Action Team (CAT) is continuing to meet over the summer to plan innovative, disruptive events to keep our contract demands and the administration’s problematic priorities in the public eye. These events are planned by members, and the more voices in the room, the better. To join the CAT, email Angie Liao, email@example.com, (for Ann Arbor), Alicia Schaeffer, firstname.lastname@example.org, (for Dearborn) or Bill Emory, email@example.com, (for Flint), and you’ll be added to the email list. Remember—use your private email for CAT planning, not a UM account.
Q: What if this doesn’t work over the summer? What if we don’t have a TA to vote on at the beginning of the semester?
A: We will continue to bargain in good faith. We want a contract that treats all Lecs fairly, no matter your years of service or primary campus. We will continue to apply pressure on the administration. We were willing to walk out in April, and if we need to, that is definitely an option for Fall semester.
Q: What about my salary? Will I still be paid?
A: Yes, you will be paid. If your department or division has provided you a letter of offer for Fall, sign it and return it ASAP. Right now, the most likely event is that you will be paid at your Fall 2017 rate. If you passed a review in the 2017-2018 academic year and were expecting a raise in 2018-2019, that will be calculated (at least temporarily) on the Fall 2017 rate. Once we have a ratified contract, you will be paid at the rate in that contract. If we are still bargaining for a TA in the Fall 2018 semester, we will make it a priority to get back pay for people to make up for the raise they missed at the start of the year.
Q: Are there other problems that can happen if we return to work in Fall 2017 without a contract?
A: We won’t have the right to file grievances. If a grievance does occur, we will save it and file it once we have a ratified contract.
Q: What other changes could occur?
A: Because Michigan is now a right-to-work state, we will be losing our service fee payers. (If you know any, consider asking them to become members!) If we don’t have a contract with the administration, we may also have to look into alternative methods of collecting member dues.
Q: How can we make sure that we have a contract at the start of Fall semester so we don’t have to worry about all this stuff?
A: Go to the Board of Regents meeting on May 17. Join your local CAT. Follow through on actions planned throughout the summer. We can win this together!