Members of the Lecturers’ Employee
Organization will likely have a one-day walkout tomorrow in protest
of the administration’s contract proposals. The LEO
bargaining council has been negotiating with the administration
since August, and it has made substantial progress in a number of
areas. The problem, however, is that the administration has been
reluctant to budge on three particularly crucial issues: wage
compensation, health benefits and job security. Fed up with the
administration’s stalling, LEO members at the
University’s Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses plan to
stay out of the classrooms and set up picket lines. It is important
for students to support LEO in its negotiations with the University
by skipping class and refusing to cross the picket lines
tomorrow.

Mira Levitan

The University’s current policy starts lecturers at the
Ann Arbor campus with a yearly salary of $28,000 and those at the
Dearborn and Flint campuses with $20,800 and $20,000,
respectively.

Such starting salaries devalue services lecturers provide.
Lecturers, as non-tenure track faculty, differ from full
professors, who are hired primarily to conduct research, in that
their sole job at the University is to teach. In fact, lecturers
teach about 50 percent of the undergraduate courses offered.
Because teaching is their sole purpose for working at the
University, providing them with fair compensation for the work they
do is of vital importance for the quality of the education that
students receive.

If education really is a priority at the University, the
administration needs to come up with proposals that can actually
attract and retain highly qualified instructors. Offering a
competitive starting salary and job security would be a good start,
and health benefits must be included as well. Public school
teachers in Ann Arbor have a higher starting salary and a greater
degree of job security — they do not have to continually
re-apply for their jobs — than any lecturer on the three
University campuses. They also enjoy year-round benefits.

Most lecturers (about 85 percent) must reapply for their jobs on
a term-by-term or yearly basis if they want to remain employed by
the University. Others must re-apply every three years. It is
unreasonable for the University to expect lecturers to
satisfactorily perform their duties when they have no long-term
investment in the continued academic quality of the University.

When LEO sets up its picket lines tomorrow, students should be
sure to support its cause. Students should skip class and avoid
entering any University building (except the dorms, of course)
until after the LEO rally in front of the Fleming Administration
Building at 4:30 p.m.

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