UM lecturers set to strike Monday and Tuesday unless deal reached
Members of the Lecturers' Employee Organization (LEO) at the University of Michigan are prepared to strike on the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses unless major progress is made at the bargaining table by this Sunday.
LEO's Union Council will make the final decision on strike action after reviewing the progress of negotiation on Sunday.
The strike would be limited to Monday and Tuesday next week.
Ian Robinson, a lecturer in the Sociology Department at UM Ann Arbor and the president of LEO, said he cannot predict if enough progress can be made to avert a strike. He said the University and LEO remain far apart about pay.
"The big problem is there's been very little movement on salary," said Robinson. "They're still far, far away from what we would consider minimally acceptable."
"Our salaries are pitiably low," Robinson said.
The minimum starting salary for a lecturer is $27,300 at UM Flint, $28,300 at UM Dearborn, and $34,500 at UM Ann Arbor. Robinson said that pay scale is lower than nearby community colleges and public schools.
"That's just not a wage that people can support a family on," said Robinson.
"One of our members makes more money as a coffee barista than he does, hour for hour, as a teacher of Spanish," Robinson said.
The University has proposed increasing the minimum salaries over the course of the three year agreement by $7,500 in Ann Arbor, and $5,700 in Dearborn and Flint. This comes to about a 20 percent increase for each of the three campuses.
According to LEO officials, lecturers teach more than half of the credit hours in Flint and Dearborn, and one-third of the credit hours in Ann Arbor.
Robinson said LEO also wants more full time positions for lecturers and longer contracts. He said too many lecturers are working part time, despite their preference for full time, and are on short term contracts.
Robinson said this situation is bad for students because lecturers cannot devote the attention they want to teaching when they are running to multiple part-time jobs or worrying about where they can be hired the next term.
UM spokesman Rick Fitzgerald issued a statement that the University is negotiating in good faith and the collective bargaining process is effective.
The statement read that "there is no need for the Lecturers' Employee Organization to call for a strike," and "a strike by LEO members has its biggest negative impact on students at a critical time near the end of the academic year."
The statement also said a strike would violate the terms of LEO members' current contract as well as state law.