U-M lecturers speak up for salaries during regents meeting

Photo by Zeinab Najm University of Michigan-Flint Biology Lecturer Danielle Potts reads a statement regarding her financial struggles stemming from her current lecturer salary to the Board of Regents during the board’s May 17 meeting on the Dearborn campus.

Photo by Zeinab Najm
University of Michigan-Flint Biology Lecturer Danielle Potts reads a statement regarding her financial struggles stemming from her current lecturer salary to the Board of Regents during the board’s May 17 meeting on the Dearborn campus.

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Members of the Lecturers’ Employee Organization Local 6244 AFT Michigan filled the annual University of Michigan Board of Regents meeting held at the Dearborn campus to let their voices be heard on current contract negations.

About 100 lecturers from all three campuses, Dearborn, Ann Arbor and Flint gathered to continue bargaining for reasonable salary wages.

A full-time lecturer at UM-D makes $28,300, UM-Flint makes $27,300 and Ann Arbor makes $34,500, according to the LEO Michigan which says that isn’t enough to live and support themselves and families.

UM-D Industrial Engineering Lecturer Roger Klungle was first to speak to the board about his struggle as the only lecturer who teaches five core classes he developed for the graduate program in project management. Klungle has taught at the university for 36 years and has seen his class size grow from 10 to 15 students to 50 to 75 students during that time.

“Despite my background and credentials, my current salary is $42,000 and change, which is basically my business salary back in 1982, and yet I am still a Lecturer II,” he said. “You have a tremendous opportunity right now to end the current system of exploiting non-tenure-track teaching and set a national standard. Don’t continue the mistakes of the past.”

UM-F Biology Lecturer Danielle Potts and single mother to a 1-year-old told the board her current salary doesn’t allow her to support her daughter and that she has to rely on support from her parents.
Potts has been working at UM-F for five years and is teaching 144 students in each lecture section and also teaching lab classes while earning a $31,606 salary.
“I love what I do, being able to teach, guide and inspire students brings me such joy,” she said. “I am proud to teach at the University of Michigan-Flint. What I don’t understand is why the University of Michigan is not proud to have me as an instructor? If they are, why are they not willing to pay me a livable wage so I can continue to teach for this university.”

UM-D Chemistry Lecturer Samia Al-Qaisi has worked for the university for nine years and currently makes a $56,000 salary which she said is not does not match her work load and qualifications.

“All told, I work roughly 60 hours per week,” she said. “As you can see UM-Dearborn benefits immensely from its non-tenured-track faculty who put in long hours teaching the majority of classes for very little pay. It is past time that the university honors the education, experience and expertise of its lecturers by giving us a fair contract.”

LEO Michigan plans to continue negotiating with the university administration. The union hopes to reach an agreement before the annual budget is adopted in June after negations first began last October.
“The university is committed to negotiating regularly and in good faith until an agreement is reached,” U-M Spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said.

According to the LEO Michigan page on the university’s website, the contract with the 1,700 nontenured-track instructors expires on May 29.
“During a bargaining session April 29, the university notified LEO that absent a new agreement, the university intends to cancel the current contract in 30 days (May 29), which is allowed under terms of the existing contract,” the page read.

The LEO Michigan page said the university offered increases to both minimum salaries and base salaries of existing lecturers. Also, the university offered one-time equity base increases for lecturers in the first year of the contract as well as annual increases for all lecturers over the life of the three-year contract.

“Those increases would raise average annual salaries over three years to an estimated $79,000 in Ann Arbor, an increase of 16 percent; $46,000 in Dearborn, an increase of 18 percent; and $49,000 in Flint, an increase of 14 percent.

Currently at the university, the average annual salary of a lecturer for eight months of teaching is $68,000 in Ann Arbor, $39,000 in Dearborn, and $43,000 in Flint, according to the LEO Michigan web page.

“The university has proposed increasing the minimum salaries by 30 percent over three years with an increase of $10,500 in Ann Arbor and $8,700 in Flint and Dearborn,” the page read. “That would raise the minimum annual salary in the first year to $43,000 in Ann Arbor, $35,000 in Dearborn and $34,000 in Flint. In year three of the contract, the minimums would increase to $45,000 in Ann Arbor, $37,000 in Dearborn and $36,000 in Flint.”

According to the LEO Michigan page, the university’s proposal also provides for a one-time equity adjustment for lecturers based on years of service, with a range of $1,000 to $12,250 for Ann Arbor and $500 to $12,000 for Flint and Dearborn.

“Lecturers with full-time rates below $80,000 would receive the full equity adjustment as a base salary increase,” the page read. “Lecturers with full-time rates of more than $80,000 would receive a sliding portion of the increase as a base increase and the remaining portion as a lump-sum payment.”

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.)