By Giacomo Bologna, Daily Staff Reporter
Published January 30, 2013
Lecturers put on a show in Mason Hall Wednesday, busting a move and raising awareness about right-to-work legislation.
About 40 supporters of the Lecturers’ Employee Organization gathered in the atrium of Mason Hall for a flash-mob in the midst of LEO’s push for higher wages during contract negotiations with the University.
LEO, which represents about 1,300 lecturers at the University’s Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses, has been meeting with officials from the University weekly as its contract is set to expire on April 20.
Dressed in bright green shirts, the group danced in unison and sang to the tune of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.” Their version of the song illustrated the importance of LEO and completing a new contract.
The song also took a swipe at the right-to-work legislation recently signed into law, calling it a “sham.” LEO President Bonnie Halloran, a lecturer at the Dearborn campus, said the union wants to have its contract settled by March 1, before the law takes effect.
She added that right-to-work affects the negotiating process and that LEO is looking at how the law is affecting unions in states that have already adopted the policy.
“The legislation in Wisconsin was much more draconian, but (unions) had huge drops in membership,” she said.
Halloran said LEO was looking to convey its ideas in a manner outside of conventional settings.
“We had a message that we wanted to deliver, and we wanted to do it in a fun way.”
She added that the event was “primarily for students,” and the University administration as well.
University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald, who was in attendance at the event, said University administrators continues to negotiate with LEO.
“The real work takes place at the bargaining table, and that’s where we focus our effort,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald added that the University is not paying much heed to right-to-work, but will focus on the contract negotiations.
Halloran said LEO is already preparing for the effects of right-to work, which may leave the union less financially secure.
“If people choose not to support the union because of this new law … our income is going to be lower, we might have to change office space, we will probably have to reduce employees — we don’t want to do any of that,” she said.
LSA senior Alfred Juncaj was walking through Mason Hall and stopped to watch the flash mob.
He wasn’t aware of what LEO was advocating for, and added that while many students at the University are socially aware, he didn’t think holding an event like this in between classes won’t often draw the attention of passersby.
“No (one) really pays attention, I think,” Juncaj said. “When it comes to stuff like this, probably 80 percent of them kind of blow it off and only maybe 20 percent actually care about causes.”