While grading essays, working on laptops and eating lunch, a
handful of lecturers held a “work-in” yesterday in the
lobby of the Fleming Administration Building to pressure the
University to return to the negotiating table.

Lecturers’ Employee Organization President Bonnie Halloran
said the work-in was organized because the University’s
negotiating team refused to return to the bargaining table until
tomorrow.

“(This is) to remind people doing the negotiating that
we’ve been here, and that we’re not going away,”
English lecturer Gene Laskowski said.

Two professors negotiating on behalf of the University asked for
talks to be put off until today because they had papers to grade,
Halloran said.

“We’ve been grading papers for two semesters while
we’ve been at the bargaining table, and that hasn’t
stopped us from negotiating,” said Halloran, a lecturer on
the University’s Dearborn campus. “It seems like an
excuse by the University — like they’re dragging their
feet.”

In response to this claim, University administrators said the
time not spent at the bargaining table has still been used
productively.

“It has taken us a couple of days to fully understand
these new proposals and figure out a response,” Provost Paul
Courant said. “An enormous amount of behind-the-scenes work
is going on now.”

The lecturers’ three main demands for the contract are
higher minimum wages, increased job security and more health care
benefits.

At the work-in, Halloran also mentioned the possibility of
future LEO protests if an agreement on a contract between the union
and the University is not reached soon. LEO, which was formed last
year, currently does not have a contract with the University.

Members of LEO organizing committees on all three campuses will
meet on Monday and Tuesday. LEO will either vote to approve the
contract — if an agreement has been reached — or decide
on future union action, she said.

That may include anything ranging from a complete strike to what
more moderate forms of collective action, she said.

Art and Design lecturer Amanda Miller said the University should
be more willing to negotiate after last week’s LEO walkout.
“To stall for an entire week after our walkout is
significant,” said Miller, who participated in the
work-in.

But Courant said the University wants also bargaining to
progress further.

“We all agreed that we wanted negotiations to end
soon,” Courant said. “It’s time for the teams to
get going on negotiations … and an agreement to be
made.”

Three classes were also held outside the building on the
Regents’ Plaza during the work-in. English Lecturer Hilary
Thompson said her students have expressed concern over the labor
negotiations and that they voted to hold class outside
yesterday.

Thompson said she held class on the plaza “to give a
gentle reminder to the University that lecturers and students want
the contract bargaining resolved in a fair and timely
manner.”

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