Members of the Galleries, Librarians, Archivists and Museums (GLAM) subunit of the Lecturers’ Employee Organization (LEO) at the University of Michigan staged a protest on all three U-M campuses on Thursday afternoon. Approximately 100 LEO-GLAM members gathered on the Diag to rally support for their ongoing contract bargaining process with the University.
LEO-GLAM was first recognized as an independent bargaining unit within LEO in August 2021. From there, they sent questionnaires out to their membership to understand what issues to bring to the bargaining table. They have been in negotiations with the University for their first contract since December 2021, during which there have been 24 formal bargaining sessions.
In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Meredith Kahn, a librarian on the University’s Ann Arbor campus, said a driving force behind the demonstration was not only the prolonged bargaining period, but also the University’s inflexibility on specific proposals.
“We have already reached a tentative agreement on most of the contract, and all that’s left on the table are salary and professional development,” Kahn said. “Those are both things that will cost the University money, so that’s why they’re still on the table.”
LEO-GLAM sent its initial salary proposal to the University in February of this year and did not receive a response to the proposal for two months. LEO-GLAM’s most recent salary proposal asks for a 41.5% salary increase over the first three years, with 60% of this increase in the first year.
To date, the University has offered to raise the minimum salary by roughly $2,000 to $48,000 with a 2% increase after the first year of the contract, a 2.25% increase in the second year and a 2.5% increase in the third. They have also proposed a minimum of $700 per year per employee for professional development opportunities, including attending academic conferences and pursuing continued education.
In an interview with The Daily, Sarah McLusky, lead archivist for reference at the Bentley Historical Library on the University’s Ann Arbor campus, said she believes the lack of initial response on this issue contributed to the slow pace of bargaining.
“When it comes to salary, that’s a proposal that they’ve had for a pretty long time and just didn’t do anything with it, at least that we could see,” McLusky said. “It was returned back to the union pretty late in the process, which is part of why we haven’t come to an agreement about that yet.”
In her speech on the Diag, Zia Davidian, an assistant librarian on the University’s Flint campus, said she believes the University’s salary offer is unacceptable, particularly for LEO-GLAM members with financial and familial obligations.
“I am fortunate to be able to just make ends meet as a young, healthy, single, childless adult,” Davidian said. “I can’t imagine trying to support a child or a family on this income — which many of my colleagues actually do. As faculty at one of the most well-respected institutions of higher education in the country, with an endowment of $17 billion, we deserve better.”
Summer News Editor Samantha Rich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.