In Review: LEO reaches contract agreement with University

Monday, September 3, 2018 - 4:50pm

After an entire school year of contract bargaining, the Lecturers’ Employee Organization reached a contract agreement this summer with University of Michigan officials to increase wages, improve health care and job security.

After an entire school year of contract bargaining, the Lecturers’ Employee Organization reached a contract agreement this summer with University of Michigan officials to increase wages, improve health care and job security. Buy this photo
Alec Cohen/Daily

While you were away this summer, you may have missed some big stories from Ann Arbor. The Daily will be publishing recaps of the summer’s breaking news.

After an entire school year of contract bargaining, the Lecturers’ Employee Organization reached a contract agreement this summer with University of Michigan officials to increase wages, improve health care and job security.

LEO represents around 1,700 non-tenure track lecturers throughout the University’s three campuses. LEO’s previous contract expired May 29, and an agreement on a new contract was made June 22. The new contract went into effect in July.

The new contract comes after eight months of bargaining negotiations with the University. LEO’s efforts sparked support from students across the three campuses, and they also resulted in a vote to strike in April. LEO eventually called off the strike after an agreement was made with the University regarding salary increases.

LEO President Ian Robinson, a sociology lecturer, said that though LEO did not get everything it had asked for, the negotiations were overall successful.

“It’s a terrific contract,” Robinson said. “It fell short in a couple of areas, but compared to where we were coming from (with) the baseline before this contract, it’s terrific.”

According to LEO’s blog, the organization believes this contract agreement is a historic victory for its members and allies.

We believe that we have won historic gains in these negotiations, including significant salary increases, improved benefits, and stronger protections for Lecturer job security,” LEO’s bargaining team wrote in the post.

By 2021, the contract minimum salary will increase by $16,500 in Ann Arbor, $13,700 in Flint and $12,700 in Dearborn. Equity adjustments, or one-time additions to base pay, would also increase by $3,000 to $12,500. Equity will differ for lecturers earning more than $80,000 annually.

Under the previous contract, the minimum starting salary for a lecturer was $34,500 in Ann Arbor, $28,300 in Dearborn and $27,300 in Flint.

While wages will increase across all three campuses, concern over the wage gap between the three campuses persists.

Public Health lecturer Kirsten Herold, LEO vice president and bargaining coordinator, believes the wage gap is due to Ann Arbor’s size and wealth.

“It’s a lot more difficult to bring up wages in Flint and Dearborn than it is in Ann Arbor,” Herold said. “The bottom line is under the current arrangement there’s a lot more money in Ann Arbor. It’s not only much bigger but it’s more wealthier.”

Steven Toth, a chemistry lecturer at U-M Flint, felt grateful for the wage increase, even if it wasn’t as high at his campus as it was in Ann Arbor. Toth said he can now focus on one job to make ends meet.

“I’ve been having to work two part-time jobs at Mott Community College and Washtenaw Community College,” Toth said. “I don’t have to do that this semester because I’m finally going to be making enough money at my one job that I don’t need to divert my attention.”

Shortly after agreements were made, LEO took a break from its social media campaign to reflect on its efforts.  

LEO launched a new version of its website on Aug. 30 with a complete draft of its new contract available to the public.