Don’t Dream It’s Over

On Sunday night, some lecturers were glad to hear there’d been enough movement from administration for the UC and bargaining team to temporarily call off our planned strike.

And some lecturers were less happy.

One thing we all agree on is that nobody is happy with our existing contract, or the way U of M has traditionally treated us. We also all agree that we are not taking the proposal admin offered Sunday night. Thus, we did not, contrary to some early reports, sign a Tentative Agreement, and we have no intention of taking this deal.

So what did the proposed deal look like?  Minimum salaries for LI/IIs would increase over three years as listed below.

Ann Arbor Dearborn Flint
Current $34,500 $28,300 $27,300
Admin’s proposal $43,000, $44,400, $45,000 (2018-20) $35,000, $36,000, $37,000 (same) $34,000, $35,000, $36,000 (same)
Our proposal $58,000, $60,000, $62,000 $54,100, $56,100, $58,100 $54,100, $56,100, $58,100

For LIII /IVs, add $2000 to all figures above.

On the equity adjustments for years of service, they are proposing between $200 and $470 per year of service (with long-serving lecs getting a higher adjustment). They offered this after repeatedly saying that no way no how would they move on the principle of equity between the three campuses. Find more detailed calculations here.

We have agreement that of those who make between  $80,000 and $95,000, the boost will be a combination of $$ added to the FTR and a lump sum payment. For those over $95,000, the entire equity pay will come as a lump sum.

Finally, annual raises were proposed as 2.5% a year in AA, and tied to tenure-track in Flint and Dearborn.

Obviously, Admin’s numbers are still far from what we’ve demanded, and there was no question of taking the deal. That isn’t what we voted on. The question we were presented with was this: Has the administration moved enough that we now believe we can get more by not striking than by striking? And though everyone in the large majority that voted “Yes” took a slightly different path there, “Yes” is where we ended up.

Why did we call it off?

  • They moved. The current numbers represent a move from “insulting” to “inadequate.” That may not sound like much, but it’s a break not only with the University’s practice throughout this contract campaign, but with the University’s treatment of lecturers since before the organization of LEO. The proposed raises that we pointedly did not accept are … also higher than our last four contracts combined. For Ann Arbor lecturers making the minimums, it is, by the end of three years, a five-digit raise. For Dearborn and Flint lecturers, it is, by the same point in time, close to that. There were at least a few in the room who literally never imagined we’d get this far. The administration needs to throw millions more at us for this to be over, but our mantra going into this past weekend was “significant movement, or we walk,” and we could not honestly claim that insulting-to-inadequate wasn’t significant movement.
  • We arguably get more out of not striking than striking. We believed that absent something bigger than a two-day strike, admin was not going to put much more on the table to reduce, say, a two-day strike to a one-day strike. Another way to put this is that, by 6PM Sunday, we were looking at an offer that already fully reflected the threat we were able to put together, and that, if we spurned it, we’d be looking at the same offer on Tuesday … having just played every last card.
  • We were voting on behalf of everybody. Many people signed up to picket because they wanted to picket. More signed expressly because they’d been told, correctly, by organizers or fellow members, that — say it with me now — “The best way to make sure we don’t have to strike is to be ready to strike.” Personally, I woke up Sunday morning absolutely convinced we’d walk. But when we voted, we all knew we had to weigh both these very numerous sets of people in mind.
  • Striking under our current contract would alienate the Regents and other potential allies. Members of the bargaining committee and the UC differ in terms of how much we believe the Regents are willing to or can help us. But their support in this campaign is public and unprecedented, and striking would have moved them out of the “support” column.
  • Retaliation from Lansing. We had wrestled with this possibility in a more general way throughout the campaign, and most of us felt that Michigan’s anti-union legislators are gonna do what Michigan’s anti-union legislators are gonna do, and that we can’t be ruled by such considerations. But a high-profile strike at U of M, occurring on the very day that legislators return from home districts, with an offer on the table that the press would be sure to characterize as “a five-digit raise,” along with all these other considerations, made this particular strike right now (not any strike ever) seem like less of a good idea.

As Jill Darling puts it: “Because we saw so much active support from lecs and allies who were willing to stand up on the picket lines, we were able to get stronger proposals on pay and equity than we have seen before. But these proposals are still far below our goals: to raise all lecturers out of poverty wages (eg. standard of living reports for all three campus counties) and to get pay that reflects our professional value.

And so we need to keep the momentum, keep putting pressure on the administration, keep demanding more. And we won’t settle for anything less than fair and respectable.”

We bargain again this Friday from 10-5 in Palmer Commons.

Maybe you think we should have struck. Maybe you’re thanking your stars we didn’t.

Either way, we all need to continue to show up.

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.

 

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.