The Lecturers’ Employee Organization went back to the bargaining table with the University yesterday in order to address grievances filed by lecturers who were let go by the University for the winter semester.
LEO signed a contract with the University in June after a lengthy process of negotiations, which also involved a one-day walkout by union members.
The controversy stems from the ambiguity concerning the reason as to why the lecturers were let go.
Numerous lecturers were let go over the summer, and LEO claims that the University initially said they were laid off due to budget cuts, but then later claimed they were fired due to poor job performance.
Under the contract, lecturers who are laid off are placed on a waiting list and must be re-hired if their department has openings in the future that they are qualified for. But the University does not have to re-hire lecturers if they are fired.
LEO claims that the University has placed new faculty into positions that the lecturers feel they were qualified to fill. The University has not provided a statement as to why the lecturers were let go.
Yesterday’s meeting involved the three lecturers from the English department who filed grievances and representatives from LEO, the English department and the academic human resources department. Both the University and LEO expressed optimism after what they said was a productive meeting.
University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said that the meeting provided positive discussion. She said the parties were closer to a solution at the end of the meeting, but no final decision was made.
LEO President Bonnie Halloran said, “The meeting was longer than expected because of the positive direction it was taking.”
Halloran would not reveal any of the details of the proposals that the University put forward because of binding confidentiality negotiation rules.
A second LEO meeting was held yesterday evening with union members to discuss the proposals that the University put forward at the earlier meeting.
“Members have some concerns that we will share with the English department and the University,” said Halloran. She would not supply specific details but said they revolved around job security.
Peterson said the current situation of grievances and negotiations was not out of the ordinary. “This is a new contract and it is not unusual that we would have some disagreements over the details of the implementation.”
LEO would like to see that the grievances are dealt with quickly and do not have to move onto neutral arbitration.
“In this case, we have three of our members who have taught for the longest time who are literally not going to have any job at all in the winter term if this is not resolved, so we want it resolved at this stage so we don’t have to go through a lengthy arbitration,” said Ian Robinson, co-chair of the Ann Arbor chapter of LEO.
The University and LEO have agreed to meet again next week in order to share member concerns regarding the proposals and work towards a final settlement.
No specific date for next week has been decided.
At the moment 12 other grievances are currently being processed, but each are at varying stages of the grievance process.
Halloran said that the grievances not heard today were on individual timetables. “Each will gradually be worked through,” she said.