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University Of Michigan Lecturers Ratify New Contract In Online Voting

Jul 13, 2018

Lecturers' Employee Organization Logo
Credit Lecturers' Employee Organization / leounion.org

The University of Michigan Lecturers' Employee Organization voted to approve a new contract agreement.  The new agreement was reached in late June following eight months of negotiations.  

The union's contract with the University of Michigan expired on April 20th, but both sides continued to talk past that date.  Some 1,700 lecturers at the University's Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Flint campuses voted on the contract online and the results were revealed Friday evening.

The following is a press release from the LEO:

– Members of the Lecturers’ Employee Organization (LEO), AFT-Michigan Local 6244, have voted to ratify a new labor agreement with the University of Michigan, in electronic balloting that began on Wednesday July 11 and concluded today.

Just over 98% of voting union members voted in favor of contract ratification.  The new three-year agreement will raise wages, improve health care and boost job security for 1,700 lecturers who teach tens of thousands of students on the Flint, Ann Arbor and Dearborn campuses. 

“Our members said they wanted a new kind of contract that would change how lecturers are paid and create the conditions for quality education for our students,” said LEO President Ian Robinson, a lecturer in the Sociology Department and the Residential College at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “The agreement approved in this week’s voting is transformative.  It recognizes fundamental changes in the nature of academic labor. Lecturers now deliver more than 50 percent of credit hours in Flint and Dearborn, and more than one third in Ann Arbor.  

“We are a permanent and integral part of the faculty at this university,” said Robinson. “The contributions we make to our university’s core mission warrants treating us like professionals who can make a real career of this vocation.  This contract is a quantum leap toward that revisioning—and a beacon for hundreds of thousands of non-tenure track faculty nationwide who continue to be exploited. This contract demonstrates that the unjust system of contingent labor in higher education can be overcome.”  

Under terms of the new agreement, by September 1, 2020 the minimum salary at which UM can hire entry-level faculty with Lecturer I appointments will increase to $51,000 (a 47.8 percent increase from the current minimum of $34,500) in Ann Arbor. The minimum salary for those with Lecturer I appointments in Flint will increase to $41,000 (a 50.2 percent increase from the current $27,300 minimum) and to $41,000 in Dearborn (a 44.9 percent increase from the current $28,300 minimum).

As of September 1, 2018, current lecturers will receive annual base pay raises ranging from $3,000 to $12,500, depending on length of service. Lecturers currently earning over $80,000 a year will receive a combination of base increases and lump-sum payments, rather than total base-pay increases.  

“This agreement is a result of months of hard work at the bargaining table – and much more,” said Kirsten Herold, a lecturer at the UM School of Public Health, LEO vice president and manager of the LEO bargaining team. “We organized. We marched. We rallied. We lobbied. And we built a coalition that includes students, tenure-track faculty, union members on and off the campus, elected officials, and community allies. We did not achieve everything our members wanted, especially in Flint and Dearborn – that is going to take more than a single round of collective bargaining. But this contract does recognize the value lecturers contribute on all three campuses and sets the stage for further improvements.”  

The University’s contribution to retirement income for lecturers, based on a percentage of salary, will increase along with the pay raises. The new contract also:

·      Improves access to health care for lecturers with variable teaching schedules throughout the calendar year;

·      Modifies the performance review process to enhance job security;

·      Provides additional funding for professional development;

·      Schedules a labor-management conference in the Fall 2019 semester, at which LEO and University administrators will discuss progress towards meeting the mutual goal of improving the diversity of lecturers. 

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu