Members of the Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums subsection of the University of Michigan’s Lecturers’ Employee Organization marched across Central Campus on Tuesday amidst contract negotiations that have spanned over five months, during which members have demanded increased salaries and safer working conditions.
LEO-GLAM’s demands are based on its three priorities, equity for librarians, archivists and curators across the three University of Michigan campuses; the guarantee of a workplace free of harrassment and discrimination; and transparency in hiring and employment practices. The union’s demands include transparent and equitable salaries and provisions for family and medical leaves. At the time of publication, 18 proposals in the negotiations have reached tentative agreement between the University and LEO-GLAM, while 22 proposals remain contested.
The march started on the Diag before traveling by the William Clements Library, Buhr Building and Law Library — all buildings in which union members work. The members of LEO-GLAM, collectively known as librarians, archivists and curators, echoed principles of equity, accountability and transparency in the workplace throughout their speeches.
LEO-GLAM campus chair Meredith Kahn, a gender and sexuality studies librarian, said LEO-GLAM represents staff across all three campuses and needs to help every one of them.
“We’re a union for librarians, archivists and curators across all three University of Michigan campuses,” Kahn said. “We want to ensure that our members are compensated and treated fairly, no matter where they happen to work.”
University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald wrote that the University is continuing its efforts to reach a deal with LEO in an email to The Daily.
“The university remains committed to continuing negotiations with the union in order to reach an agreement,” Fitzgerald wrote. “Librarians, archivists and curators are valuable members of our community and serve an important role within the university community.”
Raya Samet, LEO-GLAM co-chair of communications and librarian at the U-M Dearborn campus, said the University has not presented a salary offer that meets LEO’s expectations.
“I think anytime we ask for more money, more resources or (to) assert our rights, the University is likely to push back on that,” Samet said. “We have yet to see a meaningful counter on anything economic, so we’ve yet to see anything on salary. We’ve yet to see anything substantive on promotion. But we know that those things will come. They have to be part of this contract.”
LEO members also expressed concerns about the unclear path to promotion presented to many employees under the GLAM umbrella, particularly those working on the Dearborn and Flint campuses. During her speech at the march, Samet stressed the importance of equity within the promotion process across campuses.
“It may shock you to know that some of my colleagues at the Flint campus, and even in some of the units here in Ann Arbor, like the Clements (Library), have not been given any guidance on the promotion process or how to go about getting promoted,” Samet said. “If some people have access to promotions and others don’t, that’s not fair, and it’s not equitable. We also believe that that process should be the same, no matter what unit you work in.”
In September, LEO negotiated a new contract for lecturers that created greater pay equity between campuses after nine months of discussions with the University. Nora Krinitsky, LEO Ann Arbor co-chair and LSA professor, worked on the September agreement and attended the recent march in solidarity with LEO-GLAM’s salary demands. Krinitsky said LEO learned the importance of building collective power from their past negotiations.
“(We learned) the only way to get wins is to act collectively to build power in events like the march today, to talk to your colleagues who come together and demand what you deserve,” Krinitsky said. “The University’s never going to be persuaded to provide adequate and fair compensation and working conditions. So we’re really kind of building on that lesson of collective power in here today.”
In addition to their salary demands, LEO-GLAM also hopes to bring attention to and solve issues that contribute to an unsafe work environment. Samet said one issue LEO encountered was the University refusing to provide higher quality masks to librarians, archivists and curators.
“Many of my colleagues are still working from home,” Samet said. “So for instance, we asked for high-quality masks for librarians, archivists and curators, and the University turned us down flat and said that we’d have to fend for ourselves and deal with surgical masks.”
Librarians, archivists and curators also reported other issues they’ve encountered with the University, such as access to clean bathrooms.
“The University has wanted to fight us on all kinds of things, including having clean bathrooms,” Samet said. “It’s not just about money for them. It seems to be about lots of little things where we just want fair treatment.”
As the presidential search process continues, members of LEO, such as Krinitsky, hope that a new administration will bring about change.
“I have to see leadership that recognizes that it’s workers who make the University,” Krinitsky said. “The U of M is not simply a brand, not simply a name, not simply an institution, it’s all the people who work here. Seeing leadership that recognizes that and respects that — it’s really imperative to me.”
Daily Staff Reporter Matthew Shanbom can be reached at email@example.com.