In a 128 to 10 vote, the Lecturers’ Employee Organization
approved yesterday the tentative contract agreement reached with
the University bargaining team. The agreement, which was reached
early yesterday morning, reflects a consensus between both sides on
most of the major provisions that will appear in the final version
of the contract.

After minor details are resolved, LEO will settle on and ratify
the three-year contract that will, for the most part, become
effective Sept. 1.

“Everyone is pleased with the outcome,” University
spokeswoman Julie Peterson said.

The LEO membership also unanimously authorized the bargaining
council to send out ballots to ratify the contract after the final
wording has been determined, which will likely occur later this
month or in May.

Some LEO members, such as RC lecturer Iñigo de la Cerda,
who voted against the approval of the agreement, believe that
“many of the basic expectations didn’t get
accomplished,” but members involved in the negotiating
process said they are satisfied with the outcome of bargaining.

“We saw this is as good as it would have gotten,”
said LEO negotiator Lauren Kingsley, a former English lecturer.

“The contract is not perfect, but it is a
compromise,” LEO President Bonnie Halloran added.

The tentative agreement addressed LEO’s main concerns of
job security, salary and health benefits.

One outcome of the new contract is the creation of a fourth
lecturer level. A lecturer, regardless of level, is a non-tenure
track faculty member.

Under the new two-track system that has emerged from the
agreement, lecturers in levels one and two will generally be
classified as part-time workers who teach specific courses, usually
introductory courses within their undergraduate departments. They
will be paid per course taught. Level three and four lecturers will
be salaried and will teach a broader range of courses while also
having administrative responsibilities.

In the job security portion of the contract, level one and three
lecturers will go through a probationary period of several one-term
or one-year appointments. After this period, a lecturer will
undergo a performance review. Each department adheres to different
standards for reviews.

After the probationary period and a successful review, level one
and three lecturers will be promoted to level two and four,
respectively, and then have a “presumption of renewal”
when their appointments expire.

Under this clause, a lecturer will be retained unless there is a
lack of positions caused by curriculum changes, enrollment
shortages or budget constraints, or if the lecturer fails to meet
performance standards. Level one and three lecturers do not have
this type of security.

In the old employment system, lecturers did not have any
guarantee of renewal, regardless of level.

Now, after a second successful review, lecturers will be given
at least a three-year contract.

This new system also “provides the opportunity for
promotion,” Peterson said. Level one lecturers can be
promoted to level two after three years and a review, while level
three lecturers can advance to level four after four years and a
review. But because of the two-track system, level two instructors
generally cannot rise to levels three or four.

While the University did not acquiesce to LEO’s demand for
equal minimum salaries across all the University campuses, LEO did
get minimum pay raises across the board. For level one and two
lecturers, the minimum salary will be $31,000 in Ann Arbor, $25,000
in Dearborn and $23,000 in Flint. Level three and four lecturers
will receive a minimum $34,000 in Ann Arbor, $30,000 in Dearborn
and $29,000 in Flint.

While many agreed with de la Cerda’s assertion that
“these salaries are as close as an insult as you can
get,” Halloran assures the amounts were enough for the
tentative agreement.

“The salaries are still pitiful, and it is still very hard
to swallow,” Halloran said, but she said she recognizes that
the University is in the midst of a budget crisis and these
large-scale changes will take time.

“It’s just the beginning,” she said.

Another provision in the agreement is annual pay increases for
all lecturers and eligibility for a promotional, 5 to 7 percent
raise based on seniority. Contrary to what LEO originally demanded,
there will be no retroactive pay increases.

De la Cerda said he was concerned that the agreement
“favors (lecturers with) larger appointments,” but does
not look out for those who receive less pay and benefits.
“The smallest increases were going to the ones already making
the least money,” he said.

As for health benefits, the University gave level one lecturers,
who presently do not have any benefits in the summer, coverage over
the spring and summer terms, provided that they work at least
half-time during the terms before and after the summer
vacation.

Most of the contract items will take effect beginning in the
fall term. However, spring and summer health benefits will begin
when the spring term commences May 4.

Because the University has “never had a unified
system” of job security and will now need to evaluate the
status of all present lecturers and apply reviews to those
eligible, the new job security system will not take effect until
the 2005 fall term, Peterson said.

The next bargaining session will be on Friday, when the two
bargaining teams will discuss “small technicalities”
that may be added to the contract, such as sick leaves and other
leaves of absence, Peterson said.

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