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.

 

(Updated Monday, 4/9) NO STRIKE TOMORROW AND TUESDAY, DUE TO SUBSTANTIAL MOVEMENT.

UPDATE 4/9: Good news! The five of us writing this post and press release together last night, at the end of a long weekend, input the Flint & Dearborn numbers incorrectly. We’re actually up to an $8,700 increase on those two campuses. 

Dear LEO members & Allies:

We have been in bargaining all week and weekend — Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. After some very slow days, we have finally made headway on important points. On Saturday at 10 pm, they agreed to the concept of equity raises and how to do them. Today, we finally got some movement on minimum starting pay: a more than $10,000 increase in Ann Arbor, and over $7,500 in Flint and Dearborn. This is already the biggest salary gain ever, although still not nearly enough for a living wage.

We have reached this point due to the overwhelming support of members and students and other allies at the University and throughout the state, including Regents and other elected officials. Unfortunately, President Schlissel and Provost Philbert have not yet fully acknowledged the legitimacy of our demands.

Nevertheless, the progress made this Sunday persuades us to delay the job action for now, in the conviction that we will make more substantial progress. We feel empowered to keep bargaining for the coming days and weeks for the truly outstanding contract we all deserve.

In the next day or two, we will be announcing times for meetings on all three campuses, at which we will answer questions and discuss strategies to build on the power we have already generated.  

We cannot begin to express the gratitude we feel for the groundswell of strength and solidarity our members and allies have shown each other. This is not the end!

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.

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 3/16: In Swahili, LEO Means “Today” AND We Got a Big Move!

Well, friends and colleagues, it was another record-breaking day at bargaining on Friday! At least 124 lecturers showed up, along with over 100 allies–including a LOT of undergraduate students, who spoke powerfully about their interest in our bargaining when they introduced themselves.

What these numbers mean: Talking with students and showing the quick PowerPoint (available with ideas for use in the Power Building Tookit) is working. Providing them with access to the LEO Blog and its Power Building Toolkit is working. Keep doing it, and urge your colleagues to do it as well!

We got some good movement on a major contract issue (benefits bridge–more on that in a minute), had a loud and lively march to the Diag and back, lunch with allies, and then more statements from allies and lecturers in the afternoon session.

image058
Photo Credit: Alec Below

Let’s talk major gains:

  • They’ve agreed to keeping lecturers whose appointments across fall and winter average 50% in benefits eligibility. Thus someone who is 66 or 75% in the fall and only 33 or 25% in winter would be eligible for benefits year-round.  
  • They’ve also agreed to expand summer benefits bridge for lecturers who had 50%+ for winter only, but who will coming back in the Fall with at least 50%.  

Here are some disappointments:

  • They rejected our proposal of a child-care subsidy.
  • They rejected our proposal of offering parental accommodation pay to non-birth parents.
  • They do not want to extend health care benefits to long-serving lecturers on discretionary leave (which would make taking such a leave much more viable).
  • They continue to deny departments the opportunity to give lecturers the working title of Teaching Professor.
  • They are unwilling to strengthen the optional choice to give additional courses to current part-time lecs, rather than hiring new part-time lecs.
image016
Photo Credit: Alec Below

As you may have heard, admin also delayed presenting their salary proposal until this week’s session in Flint. While it would have been nice to hear their offer with allies in the room, we hope that rescheduling it to the 23rd will mean more Ann Arbor and Dearborn lecturers will make the effort to show up in Flint this Friday.

Let’s be clear: the gains we’ve made have everything to do with the power we’ve been able to demonstrate thus far. We’ve built tremendous momentum among both lecturers and allies, and WE MUST CONTINUE TO APPLY PRESSURE with ever-higher attendance at bargaining each week.

These last few weeks are absolutely crucial. If you’re invested in forcing the University to invest in us, we need you to be doing the following things:

  1. Come to bargaining every Friday. (Reminder: This Friday is when we get a salary proposal back in Flint!)
  2. Come to the 2nd and 3rd General Membership Meetings, where we’ll make important decisions about next steps. Read more about GMMs here.
  3. Come to the Grade-In (2-3:30) and Regents Meeting (3:30-5) at the Michigan Union on Thursday, March 29th.
  4. Bring at least one fellow-lecturer with you to each of these things!  

About the Swahili: Marko Mwipopo, a lecturer in DAAS in Ann Arbor, addressed the admin team after lunch about his struggle to make ends meet on lecturer pay. He closed by saying that in a happy coincidence, Leo is the Swahili word for “today.” Let’s take that serendipitous new knowledge to heart, and ask ourselves what we can do for each other TODAY. Our solidarity is working, and a fantastic contract is in sight–time to dig in even more and pull together!

–Your bargaining team

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

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.
 
1. REGENTS’ MEETING
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: https://www.facebook.com/events/162367887749501/
 
2. ACTION LISTSERV
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: bit.ly/act4lecs 


3. 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. 

Central Student Government Representative Frank Guzman’s Remarks to Administration on Friday, January 26, 2018

On Friday, January 26, administration’s bargaining team heard from Frank Guzman. Frank is an elected representative for the College of LSA to Central Student Government in Ann Arbor. Read Frank’s strong reflections on why he as a student believes that we must treat our educators with dignity and respect below. Frank also read aloud the resolution that was recently unanimously passed in Central Student Government in support of Lecturers’ fight for a fair contract.

LEO Speech (1)

LEO Speech (2)

LEO Speech (3).jpg