Lecturers in bright red “M-Labor” shirts greeted graduating seniors, parents and administrators with smiles and leaflets at all entrances of Crisler Arena on Sunday morning. But it didn’t stop at the doors – members of the Lecturers’ Employee Organization and its supporters packed into the aisles and crowded concession stands.
About 50 LEO members and supporters came to protest the University’s alleged faulty implementation of LEO’s June 2003 contract. Cederic DeLeon, a sociology lecturer, said he felt overall reaction to the protest was positive.
“Parents told us they supported us,” he said. “Almost every single person took and kept a leaflet.”
University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said the protest was peaceful and that the University did not receive any complaints from parents or others about LEO’s presence at graduation.
LEO’s flyers alleged a contradiction between the administration’s massive wealth and the high tuition, and its low pay for lecturers.
Other complaints include laid-off lecturers not rehired in a timely manner, and malfunctions with a complicated title change for lecturers. The changes, or reclassifications, are important because they can affect a lecturer’s salary.
Lecturers classified as level I and II teach classes, while those classified as III and IV teach and perform some administrative duties. Following the reclassification of lecturers’ titles, LEO has claimed that some of them are incorrect. Over a dozen grievances have been filed with the University claiming misclassification.
LEO has also indicated problems regarding wage increases for lecturers who have successfully passed performance evaluations, claiming that it is taking up to 18 months for some lecturers to receive their raises.
Peterson said the contract between the University and LEO allows a three-year period to complete lecturer reviews and for corresponding raises to be put into effect. She added that although the University understands LEO’s desire for haste, a significant amount of time is necessary to complete them.
LEO has succeeded in preventing the School of Nursing from reclassifying lecturers, DeLeon said. He said that although a promise was made at a meeting with the school, there is no way to verify whether that promise will be kept.
“Although we believe nursing instructors who teach students to practice in a clinical setting are properly classified as clinical instructors, the University has not taken any action on this yet,” Peterson said.
Problems with the School of Art and Design and LEO have not been settled entirely. A lecturer who was laid off in fall 2004 and placed on a recall list – a list of lecturers who are to be offered positions first as they become available – was not called back even after allegedly being promised by Art and Design dean Bryan Rogers that she would be rehired.
LEO plans to continue pressuring the University on issues it feels remain unresolved.
“All in all, there is more bad than good,” DeLeon said. “But our members have nevertheless been able to win incremental gains by putting collective pressure on the administration.”