As contract negotiations with the University began last week, about 40 members of the Lecturers’ Employee Organization and other union supporters gathered at the entrance to Palmer Commons on Friday afternoon to rally in support of LEO.

LEO, which represents about 1,500 non-tenure track lecturers at the University’s Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses, also announced the publication of a report alleging a significant gap in pay between professors and lecturers. LEO’s current contract is set to expire in April and LEO president Bonnie Halloran spoke to the crowd about the current labor situation faced by lecturers, amid outbursts of chants and cheers.

“(The report) shows that while we are doing the lion’s work, we’re only being paid half as much to teach a class as our fellow professors on campus,” Halloran said. “They get twice the amount of dollars to basically teach the same amount of class, so we need to see a change.”

Speakers at the event, which came a day after anti-union legislation passed the state Legislature, also addressed Michigan’s progression to a right-to-work state.

“This has an impact on us here at the University while we’re bargaining our contract,” Halloran said. “We’re an example of an outstanding union that works with our employer to make better working conditions and to create better conditions at the University itself and for the students.”

Several members of the Graduate Employees’ Organization also attended, including Rackham student Katie Frank, the president of GEO, who also spoke at event.

“It’s not right. They’re not asking for the moon, they’re asking to be compensated for the work they do,” Frank said of LEO. “The primary function of this university is still educating the future of the state of Michigan and we know who is doing that here; it’s our lecturers doing the bulk of this work.”

LSA senior Ian Matchett, the founder of the Student Union of Michigan, also spoke at the event and said that a good education isn’t the result of “fancy buildings” or “administrative pay.” While SUM is dedicated to freezing tuition costs, Matchett said that shouldn’t come at the expense of lecturers.

University lecturer Lila Naydan, a LEO spokeswoman, said in an interview after the event that raising the wages of lecturers does not automatically mean that tuition will rise.

“It would be very easy for the University of Michigan to do this without raising tuition,” she said. “Tuition for (students) would not have to go up. We don’t want tuition for (students) to go up.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.