Admin Has it a Little Twisted

Did you see what happened in the Record on Monday, May 7th? The U is stepping up their attempts to paint us as greedy and ungrateful, only now to the entire University community and broader public.

Rick Fitzgerald, University spokesperson on bargaining, contributed a piece about bargaining from admin’s position, in which he linked to bargaining updates administration has been posting on the “About LEO” page–from UM’s Human Resources team.

If you read Fitzgerald’s article, or any of the recent bargaining updates admin has posted, you won’t be surprised that they tell the story quite differently than we do. For instance:

“The university has offered significant increases to both the minimum salaries and the base salaries of existing lecturers.

The university also offered one-time equity base increases for lecturers in the first year of the contract as well as annual increases for all lecturers over the life of the three-year contract.”

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This language comes directly from the admin’s bargaining updates, which also say:

“Those increases would raise average annual salaries over three years to an estimated $79,000 in Ann Arbor, an increase of 16 percent; $46,000 in Dearborn, an increase of 18 percent; and $49,000 in Flint, an increase of 14 percent.

Currently the average annual salary of a lecturer, for eight months of teaching, is $68,000 in Ann Arbor, $39,000 in Dearborn and $43,000 in Flint.”

Yep, you read that right. Did you know we were so well compensated? We didn’t, either!

That’s because… we’re not.

Using “averages” to represent salaries for UM Lecturers across the board is very misleading. Averaged figures mask the fact that the many members who face serious financial struggles will not win much relief under the University’s current proposal, due to loopholes that apply to Lecturers who have served a certain number of years.

Using averages is a trick that admin uses to avoid addressing the numbers that accurately reflect the situation of Lecturers on all three campuses. There are a small number of Lecturers in cash-rich programs who make such substantial amounts of money that their salaries falsely inflate the average salaries of all Lecs.

To illustrate: if you average the entire Union Council’s salaries – the 8 council members make between $39,265-$78,820 for full time rates – it comes to $44,326. If you include just President Schlissel’s salary of $823,523/yr, our average salary suddenly becomes $130,904.

Unfortunately, the university is sending reports that are warped by averaged salaries and other misrepresentations via email to a number of University-affiliated groups. MLive picked up the story, highlighting the fact that admin intends to quit the contract on May 29th, and that admin continues to imply that we are being uncooperative in bargaining. This narrative leaves out the important detail that if we don’t reach an agreement with admin by the end of June, they can withhold our union right to automatic dues deduction, which is a union-busting tactic.

We provided MLive with information that more accurately represents the vast majority of Lecturers’ salaries, but the author of that piece chose not to use it. Instead,  the article reproduced the admin’s narrative, using the exact language of admin’s bargaining updates without citing them as direct quotes:

“Those increases would raise average annual salaries over three years to an estimated $79,000 in Ann Arbor, an increase of 16 percent; $46,000 in Dearborn, an increase of 18 percent; and $49,000 in Flint, an increase of 14 percent.

Currently, the average annual salary of a lecturer, for eight months of teaching, is $68,000 in Ann Arbor, $39,000 in Dearborn and $43,000 in Flint.”

Sound familiar? In response, our bargaining team manager and LEO Vice President Kirsten Herold wrote a statement to the University Record in which she says:

“This is a rather one-sided account of what is happening.  As LEO bargaining team manager, I do not appreciate the suggestion that somehow LEO is not bargaining in good faith…

LEO is as eager as management to come back to the table.  Any suggestion to the contrary is simply not true.

If bargaining is dragging out, it is not due to lack of efforts on LEO’s side.  We presented our salary proposal on October 27.  We received our first counter more than 100 days later, which was essentially a status quo proposal that enraged the members in the room.  Progress has been made since, but it has been exceedingly slow at times.”

Admin is misrepresenting not only our eminently affordable asks, but also our willingness to respond to reasonable offers. It’s no accident that they are getting more aggressive after classes have ended, assuming that we are losing community support.

We need to push back by packing the bargaining room on Friday, May 18th (starting at 9:30AM at Pierpont Commons on North Campus – follow the signs for the bargaining room) and even more importantly, showing up to the Regents Meeting in Dearborn on May 17th. The Regents will meet at 3:00PM at Fairlane Center South (19000 Hubbard Drive, Dearborn, MI), and we will have an action (with lunch) at Fairlane South courtyard starting at 1:30PM. Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/984365088411143/

Let’s underscore the point we’ve been making since October 27th: We will not allow our labor to be invisible and undervalued any longer. Nor will we allow the University to portray us as greedy.

 

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