After many months of working with the University and waiting for answers, the Lecturers’ Employee Organization is reaching its breaking point. In a membership meeting last night, LEO members created a plan of action to make sure their voice is still being heard.
LEO members have decided to conduct short teach-ins during class instruction time to make sure students are aware of what is going on, LEO co-chair Ian Robinson said.
Robinson also said LEO members have authorized their leadership to conduct a protest at December commencement activities if they deem conditions over contract issues are not resolved.
One of the many bones of contention LEO has with the University is the problem of misclassified lecturers – an issue that has plagued the union since the implementation phase of its contract, which was signed in June 2003. This term LEO filed 15 formal grievances with the University regarding lecturers whom they said LSA had misclassified. If not resolved between the union and the University, formal grievances can escalate to arbitration and will be handled by an independent third party.
Lecturers have placed so much focus on classification because it determines their responsibilities and wages. Lecturers classified as Lecturer I and II teach classes, while those classified as III and IV teach and perform some administrative duties. Since the University reclassified lecturers’ titles, LEO has claimed that some of them have been misclassified.
Robinson said LEO is still waiting for responses to nine of the 15 grievances filed regarding misclassified lecturers. So far, two grievances have been approved, while four grievances in the English Language Institute were denied yesterday.
“That was pretty disappointing because they appear to be clear cases (of misclassification) to us,” Robinson said.
Other issues that deal with classification in different academic units are becoming more prominent. Nurses in the School of Nursing who perform teaching duties have been reclassified by the University and are no longer considered lecturers, which removes them from the contract.
Robinson said that while the nurses were teaching in “an unusual environment,” they were still teaching and should be considered lecturers and members of the union’s bargaining unit.
Robinson said the issue is going straight to arbitration.
“The University said that we don’t have anything to discuss,” he said.
Robinson and fellow LEO co-chair Kirsten Herold said issues with the School of Art and Design have not improved either, especially in light of a contract violation. A poignant case of a laid-off lecturer, they said, is proof of the school’s lack of respect for lecturers.
A lecturer who was laid off almost two years ago and has been waiting on the call-back list – a list for laid-off lectures who wish to be contacted once positions become available – has not been rehired for the upcoming term, despite a promise made by School of Art and Design Dean Bryan Rogers that she would be rehired, Herold said. Rogers made the promise at a public grievance hearing where many members of the administration were present, including Assistant Provost Jeffery Frumkin, she said.
After being informed that a job would not be available for the lecturer next term, Herold said she requested that the fired lecturer be allowed to stay on the call-back list since she had been promised a job, but her request was denied.
Herold said the next step would be to file a grievance.
“It’s not comforting,” she said, “because we know they will say no.”
Problems have also arisen concerning the Comprehensive Studies Program and instructors who are performing teaching duties but are not classified as lecturers. CSP is a unit of LSA that provides academic support and advising as well as course instruction that is tailored to minority students, especially the Summer Bridge program.
Herold said some administrative staff members who were performing teaching duties were compensated by extra pay in the past. This semester, however, LSA has decided not to provide compensation for these staff members and instead have added teaching duties as a part of their job.
This has taken place even though these staff members are not classified as lecturers and the number of students involved in the program has grown, she said.
“This is LSA just wanting to save money,” Herold said. The University’s position is that since the individuals are not classified as lecturers, LEO cannot represent them,” Herold said.
She added, however, that since the issue deals with teaching duties, LEO should be allowed to voice the staff members’ concerns.