BY ELIZABETH BASTIAN, Managing Editor
The work of a lecturer on campus is never done, a reason why the participants in today’s sit in outside the Chancellor’s Office spent the time grading stacks of papers while sending a message to the University of Michigan administration.
On February 12, from 11 am to 1 pm, a group of members of the Lecturer’s Employee Organization (LEO) sat in the hallway inside the Administration Building and continued their work. LEO is the union for professors on non-tenured tracks for the three University of Michigan campuses: Ann Arbor, Flint, and Dearborn. After three years, their contract is up for negotiation and the union members are coming to the bargaining table asking for a more equitable pay package.
At the University of Michigan Dearborn, lecturers teach roughly 50% of the courses offered. According to an informational packet distributed by LEO, tenure-track professors are paid $3,057 more per course than Lecturer 1s to teach the same course.
According to Barry Wauldron, a LEO lecturer on the Dearborn campus, the main sticking points as far as the contract is concerned are “salary and benefits.” The administration has put forth that Ann Arbor lecturers will receive no pay raises with the new contract, which would last for the next three years. Claudia Walters, another lecturer on the Dearborn campus, explained that this is basically taking a pay cut, as benefit out-of-pocket costs for health care, dental care, retirement, and disability will continue to increase.
In the contract that is currently being negotiated, the language concerning benefits has been altered so that benefits are defined as “descriptions only,” which can be modified at any time with only 60 days notice to the union, according to Wauldron. Essentially, this means that the amount of benefits covered, and the kinds of benefits that are offered, will be able to be changed on a two months’ notice for union members.
“The people most hurt by increases in health care costs are part timers,” said Walters. A majority of the lecturers are part time employees.
LEO has only been around for the past decade. But before the union came into being, there was no pay raise for seven years for lecturers, said Walters. In the past ten years since its inception, said Wauldron, the LEO union has raised the annual full-time salary for lecturers from $19,000 a year to an average of $34,000 a year.
LEO members are hoping to wrap up negotiations for a contract before March 1, as the right to work legislation that passed in the end of 2012 will go into effect at the end of March.
LEO members and students will be rallying at the University of Michigan Regent’s meeting on the steps of the Michigan Union in Ann Arbor on Thursday, February 21, 2013. The rally at 2:30 pm will be followed by a march to the Regent’s meeting at 3 pm.
For more information, visit www.leounion.org, or speak to a union member on campus.