Members of the University’s Lecturer Employment Organization have officially ratified their contract with the University.

The announcement, made on Friday, comes after LEO members were given three weeks to consider the tentative contract agreement reached with the University and cast their votes. The balloting period followed eight months of negotiations between the lecturers’ union and University administrators.

LEO President Bonnie Halloran praised the new contract in a press release issued this weekend, calling it “a victory for the entire membership.”

Halloran also thanked members of the LEO bargaining team for their hard work on the negotiations, saying they were essential to reaching a quality contract.

“Members were involved in every phase of the process from developing the platform, to researching University finances, from sitting at the table to creating an effective communication system, and finally, the ratification vote itself,” Halloran said in the press release.

James Anderson, who led the LEO bargaining team, echoed Halloran’s comments, thanking the other members of the union’s negotiation group.

“It’s terrific that the members have ratified the work of the bargaining team,” Anderson said in a statement. “This will build on achievements of the previous two contracts. I think it’s the best one yet.”

In a phone interview yesterday, University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald also praised the agreement’s ratification.

“The University is pleased with the news of the ratification and is encouraged that the tentative agreement received such strong support,” Fitzgerald said.

And though both parties expressed satisfaction after the contract was ratified, they were not as cordial toward each other throughout the long negotiation process, publicly expressing frustration with each other.

However, when the tentative contract agreement was reached last month, both parties called it “a fair compensation package for the 1,445 non-tenure-track instructors on the three U-M campuses,” in a joint press release.

The package includes planned salary increases for each of the three years in the life of the contract. And while LEO officials typically don’t like to plan such increases specifically in the contract, Halloran said it was necessary because of past incidents with University administrators.

In past contracts, lecturers’ salary increases were often tied to faculty raises.

“The University did not want to be in the same position in another year or two years, or three years later where there was a disagreement on what the raise was that lecturers would get,” Halloran told the Daily last month. “So they insisted on negotiating for a fixed percentage raise and that’s why that language is there.”

Language in the tentative agreement specified that lecturers would see a 2.5-percent increase in 2010 and 2011 and a 2.75-percent pay raise in 2012.

Additionally, lecturers will be more gradually introduced to the University’s new modified health insurance cost sharing program. The new cost sharing burden will not be fully experienced by lecturers until 2012 and even then, lecturers with a 50- to 79-percent appointment will be safeguarded from any negative impacts on their salaries.

The minimum salaries lecturers are allowed to receive will also be increased by $1,300 over the life of the contract and lecturers will receive a $500 “base salary adjustment” in Sept. 2012.

And while LEO members overwhelmingly approved the tentative contract agreement, Halloran told the Daily last month after the tentative agreement was announced that she views this as only the first step towards closing the gap between lecturers and other faculty at the University.

“From our perspective, it’s a small step towards what we’re looking for, but it’s the beginning of what we’re hoping to be a continual process … that we can continue to make these kinds of salary adjustments over time because of the tremendous gap between what lecturers get paid and what tenure track faculty get paid,” Halloran said.

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