U-M lecturers hold sit in, protest amid contract negations

Photo by Carol Hogan/Lecturers' Employee Organization Facebook  Lecturers’ Employee Organization members protest for salary increases for lecturers at all three University of Michigan campuses during the University of Michigan-Dearborn Engineering Laboratory Building groundbreaking April 20.

Photo by Carol Hogan/Lecturers’ Employee Organization Facebook
Lecturers’ Employee Organization members protest for salary increases for lecturers at all three University of Michigan campuses during the University of Michigan-Dearborn Engineering Laboratory Building groundbreaking April 20.

By ZEINAB NAJM
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Lecturers’ Employee Organization Local 6244 AFT Michigan members protested recently at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Ann Arbor campuses for salary increases and improved health benefits.

After months of negations LEO members protested in the background as UM-D celebrated the groundbreaking of its $90 million Engineering Laboratory Building April 24

“Lecturers and allies protested the University of Michigan-Dearborn Engineering Laboratory Building groundbreaking to tell the administration that its priorities are hurting the faculty who teach the majority of classes on campus as well as students,” a LEO Facebook post wrote that same day.

LEO members held a sit-in on the floor of the Fleming Administration Building in Ann Arbor on April 20 to call for better salaries.

The contract for the 1,700 lecturers on the university’s three campuses expired on April 20 and contract bargaining continued with the administration.

“LEO members and allies challenged Provost Martin Philber,” a LEO Facebook post read. “We staged a block party outside his office building where students and lecturers wrote multiple-page, handwritten letters to Philbert, after he famously dismissed hundreds of handwritten cards from students as form letters that did not move him.”

The LEO said April 26 they will plan to gather at the next U-M Board of Regents meeting in Ann Arbor on May 17 to further negotiate the new contract requests.

“All year, Lecturers have bargained with the University for a non-exploitative contract, one that recognizes long-serving lecturers, treats Flint and Dearborn equitably, and gives lecturers a living wage that reflects the immense revenue we generate for the university,” an April 26 LEO Facebook post read. “We’ve appreciated the public support of several Regents. Regent Mark Bernstein said, at the last Regents’ meeting, ‘It’s time to invest in our lecturers with the same enthusiasm we apply to other important priorities.’

Currently a full-time lecturer at UM-D makes $28,300, UM-Flint makes 27,300 and Ann Arbor makes $34,500. The LEO Michigan on April 11 posted that over the next three years the university proposed $35,000, $36,000 and $37,000 salary for UM-D while the LEO proposed $54,100, $56,100 and $58,100 over the same time period.

The LEO members held off a strike planned for April 9 and 10 after a week of contract bargaining with the university progressed.

According to the LEO Michigan page on the university’s website, the union represents 1,7000 full and part-time lectures with 285 working at the Dearborn campus.

Also according to the LEO Michigan page on the university’s website, the administration agreed to LEO’s proposal of expanding benefits eligibility for lectures.

“Under the current contract, lecturers must have a 50 percent appointment in both the fall and winter semesters in order to receive benefits coverage in those semesters,” the website read. “The new language would provide eight months of additional benefits coverage for lecturers whose fall and winter appointments averaged to 50 percent effort over the course of a year but whose winter appointment was below 50 percent.”

The LEO members have asked for a salary increase, improved health benefits, job security and new child care subsidy from the university administration.

Benefits coverage mentioned include health, dental, vision and life insurance, long term disability coverage and legal plan coverage.

“The university also has agreed to expand those eligible to receive benefits over the spring/summer semesters,” the LEO Michigan page on the university’s website read.

For updates from the university go to www.hr.umich.edu.about-leo and for information form the LEO Michigan union go to www.fleounion.wordpress.com.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at zeinabnajm92@gmail.com.)

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