Don’t Dream It’s Over

On Sunday night, some lecturers were glad to hear there’d been enough movement from administration for the UC and bargaining team to temporarily call off our planned strike.

And some lecturers were less happy.

One thing we all agree on is that nobody is happy with our existing contract, or the way U of M has traditionally treated us. We also all agree that we are not taking the proposal admin offered Sunday night. Thus, we did not, contrary to some early reports, sign a Tentative Agreement, and we have no intention of taking this deal.

So what did the proposed deal look like?  Minimum salaries for LI/IIs would increase over three years as listed below.

Ann Arbor Dearborn Flint
Current $34,500 $28,300 $27,300
Admin’s proposal $43,000, $44,400, $45,000 (2018-20) $35,000, $36,000, $37,000 (same) $34,000, $35,000, $36,000 (same)
Our proposal $58,000, $60,000, $62,000 $54,100, $56,100, $58,100 $54,100, $56,100, $58,100

For LIII /IVs, add $2000 to all figures above.

On the equity adjustments for years of service, they are proposing between $200 and $470 per year of service (with long-serving lecs getting a higher adjustment). They offered this after repeatedly saying that no way no how would they move on the principle of equity between the three campuses. Find more detailed calculations here.

We have agreement that of those who make between  $80,000 and $95,000, the boost will be a combination of $$ added to the FTR and a lump sum payment. For those over $95,000, the entire equity pay will come as a lump sum.

Finally, annual raises were proposed as 2.5% a year in AA, and tied to tenure-track in Flint and Dearborn.

Obviously, Admin’s numbers are still far from what we’ve demanded, and there was no question of taking the deal. That isn’t what we voted on. The question we were presented with was this: Has the administration moved enough that we now believe we can get more by not striking than by striking? And though everyone in the large majority that voted “Yes” took a slightly different path there, “Yes” is where we ended up.

Why did we call it off?

  • They moved. The current numbers represent a move from “insulting” to “inadequate.” That may not sound like much, but it’s a break not only with the University’s practice throughout this contract campaign, but with the University’s treatment of lecturers since before the organization of LEO. The proposed raises that we pointedly did not accept are … also higher than our last four contracts combined. For Ann Arbor lecturers making the minimums, it is, by the end of three years, a five-digit raise. For Dearborn and Flint lecturers, it is, by the same point in time, close to that. There were at least a few in the room who literally never imagined we’d get this far. The administration needs to throw millions more at us for this to be over, but our mantra going into this past weekend was “significant movement, or we walk,” and we could not honestly claim that insulting-to-inadequate wasn’t significant movement.
  • We arguably get more out of not striking than striking. We believed that absent something bigger than a two-day strike, admin was not going to put much more on the table to reduce, say, a two-day strike to a one-day strike. Another way to put this is that, by 6PM Sunday, we were looking at an offer that already fully reflected the threat we were able to put together, and that, if we spurned it, we’d be looking at the same offer on Tuesday … having just played every last card.
  • We were voting on behalf of everybody. Many people signed up to picket because they wanted to picket. More signed expressly because they’d been told, correctly, by organizers or fellow members, that — say it with me now — “The best way to make sure we don’t have to strike is to be ready to strike.” Personally, I woke up Sunday morning absolutely convinced we’d walk. But when we voted, we all knew we had to weigh both these very numerous sets of people in mind.
  • Striking under our current contract would alienate the Regents and other potential allies. Members of the bargaining committee and the UC differ in terms of how much we believe the Regents are willing to or can help us. But their support in this campaign is public and unprecedented, and striking would have moved them out of the “support” column.
  • Retaliation from Lansing. We had wrestled with this possibility in a more general way throughout the campaign, and most of us felt that Michigan’s anti-union legislators are gonna do what Michigan’s anti-union legislators are gonna do, and that we can’t be ruled by such considerations. But a high-profile strike at U of M, occurring on the very day that legislators return from home districts, with an offer on the table that the press would be sure to characterize as “a five-digit raise,” along with all these other considerations, made this particular strike right now (not any strike ever) seem like less of a good idea.

As Jill Darling puts it: “Because we saw so much active support from lecs and allies who were willing to stand up on the picket lines, we were able to get stronger proposals on pay and equity than we have seen before. But these proposals are still far below our goals: to raise all lecturers out of poverty wages (eg. standard of living reports for all three campus counties) and to get pay that reflects our professional value.

And so we need to keep the momentum, keep putting pressure on the administration, keep demanding more. And we won’t settle for anything less than fair and respectable.”

We bargain again this Friday from 10-5 in Palmer Commons.

Maybe you think we should have struck. Maybe you’re thanking your stars we didn’t.

Either way, we all need to continue to show up.

One thought on “Don’t Dream It’s Over

  1. Thanks for explaining this in detail & kudos to the negotiating team & union leadership for all of their hard work.

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