The University of Michigan’s Lecturers’ Employee Organization organized a bargaining kickoff rally to begin contract negotiations with the University’s administration Friday morning. About 100 LEO lecturers and allies — including members of the Graduate Employees’ Organization, undergraduate and graduate students — attended the virtual event.
LEO’s contract with the University is ending on April 20. The current contract went into effect in July 2018, following eight months of bargaining negotiations and a vote to strike before reaching an agreement with the University over salary increases.
LEO includes 1,696 non-tenure track professors from the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses. The union is looking to improve their contract through the upcoming negotiations. Some of the proposals on the bargaining platform include more flexible COVID-19 policies for mode of course instruction, increased pay, pay parity across all three University campuses and greater participation in University governance. Discussions with University managers are expected to continue throughout the day on Friday and will continue every Friday of the year until at least June 25.
The 2021 bargaining platform calls for a salary increase from $51,000 to $60,000 for lecturers from all three campuses, with an additional $1,200 increase each year for 2022 and 2023. LEO is also demanding that the University provide $15 million each to support the Flint and Dearborn campuses. The platform also includes demands for child care subsidies, professional development funds and job security efforts, among other measures.
Kirsten Herold, LEO vice president and bargaining team member, said the team looks forward to “spirited discussions” with managers in the coming months.
“The bargaining team is the nail, but the members are the hammer,” Herold said. “We need the members to come support us.”
Public Policy senior Amanda Kaplan and Public Policy senior LSA senior Saveri Nandigama, Central Student Government president and vice president respectively, voiced their support for LEO and emphasized the need for solidarity. Kaplan said it is important to support all members of the University community in order to improve the student experience.
“This collaboration is central to our collective advocacy, and especially at our decentralized institution where systems of oppression permeate everywhere,” Kaplan said. “It’s only by working together in this way, can we promote dignity and equity for everyone.”
After the kickoff rally, the LEO bargaining team moved into a private session.
U-M Dearborn senior Briana Cruga, president of the One University Campaign at Dearborn, a coalition of faculty and students who campaign to provide more U resources to Flint and Dearborn, said it was important for the University’s administration to continue funding the Dearborn and Flint communities to “alleviate the stress put on faculty and lecturers.”
“Students’ learning conditions are a result of lecturers’ working conditions,” Cruga said. “The lecturers at Dearborn and Flint do everything in their power to prevent their students from suffering from U-M’s unsupportive administration. It is essential that all lecturers are paid a liveable wage so they can support our communities.”
LEO organizer and LSA senior Amytess Girgis said the LEO contract champions dignity and calls for a more democratic university.
“As an undergrad who has been taught by countless incredible lecturers, I’m so excited for LEO to begin bargaining this year,” Girgis said. “I support them all the way.”
Daily Staff Reporter Varsha Vedapudi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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