University officials and LEO union reach tentative agreement
By ELIZABETH BASTIAN, Managing Editor
On Tuesday March 6, around 11:30 am, bargaining ended and a tentative agreement was reached between the University of Michigan administration and the Lecturers’ Employee Organization (LEO) (AFT-Michigan Local 6244, AFL-CIO).
The new contract, which will be in place for the next five years, will replace the previous three year contract that expires on April 20. The agreement provides a compensation package for the more than1,500 non-tenure-track lecturers on all three campuses, in addition to other provisions of lecturers’ employment such as benefits.
“I think it’s a good contract in light of the current economic environment in the state and in the nation,” said Bonnie Halloran, President of LEO. “In light of getting raises, it was a success.”
While the union began to bargain for a new contract as early as November 2012, it was not until yesterday that an agreement was reached between the two interested parties. Halloran discussed how state budget cuts, education cuts, and the federal sequestrian cuts to universities, as well as the recently passed “Right to Work” legislation, made for strenuous bargaining conditions.
“We would have gotten a contract with or without right to work,” said Halloran. “It just made for a difficult negotiating environment.”
While the university pushed for uniform benefits across all employees, the union was able to negotiate some exemptions. This will ultimately protect the part time employees, according to Halloran, of which 2/3 of lecturers across all three campuses are.
The next step in the process is ratification by individual members of the LEO union, as is outlined in the LEO constitution. According to Halloran, both the union and the bargaining team are recommending ratification, as they “believe it is the best contract under the conditions.”
LEO has scheduled membership meetings on each campus for the next week, in order for members to openly discuss and ask questions about the agreement.
In order for the tentative agreement to be ratified, there must be a majority overall, as well as a majority on each of the three campuses. Members have until 5 pm on March 21, 2013 to turn in their ballots.
Further details of the agreement will be released after the ratification vote.