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The University of Michigan LSA Student Government passed a resolution in support of the Lecturers’ Employee Union’s demands at their first hybrid meeting since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic on Wednesday evening.
LEO is a union of non-tenure track faculty across all three U-M campuses. LEO members voted to quit their previous contract with the University on Aug. 9. If the union and the University administration do not come to an agreement by Sept. 8, LEO could vote to go on strike, despite public employee strikes being illegal under Michigan law.
The LEO strike, if initiated, would cause this to be the second fall in a row disrupted by labor action, as the Graduate Employees Organization voted to go on strike during contract negotiations with the University in Sept. 2020.
Nora Krinitsky, LEO’s Ann Arbor campus co-chair and lecturer in the Residential College, said during her presentation to LSA SG that the union typically meets with University administration every three years. Under a new contract, LEO aims to improve lecturer working conditions and compensation, especially for lecturers on the Flint and Dearborn campuses.
“The campus community saw a real lack (of) brave leadership last year when it came to communication, support for workers and support for students (from the University),” Krinitsky said. “So that was some of the context that we were all bringing into our bargaining platform.”
Krinitsky said the lack of support for lecturers is especially visible in the disparities between the Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn campuses, namely in spending for full-time students and salaries for lecturers.
Krinitsky also said she thinks the University significantly underpays lecturers, as compared to local community colleges and peer four-year institutions. LEO is also asking for more lecturers placed in University governance roles and stricter limits on their workloads.
The most recent salary proposal for the 2023-2024 school year raises the salary for Lecturer Is on the Flint and Dearborn campuses to $48,000 and keeps the salary on the Ann Arbor campus at $51,000.
Both LSA SG members and Krinitsky discussed how open support from the student body would help LEO’s cause.
“And I will say, at the end of the day, it is our students who have the most power to make change on campus,” Krinitsky said. “You all are incredibly important.”
Zackariah Farah, LSA SG vice president and LSA senior, said he believes the salary for lecturers is not acceptable for a public university.
“This starting salary is not a livable wage in Michigan,” Farah said. “Is that acceptable … especially when we saw in the presentation that there are similar institutions to our own that are paying livable wages to their lectures.”
U-M Central Student Government passed a resolution in support of LEO at their meeting Tuesday.
Daily Staff Reporter Nirali Patel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.