Ratification Process

Dear Lecturers,

On June 21st and 22nd, the LEO Bargaining Team reached agreement with the university administration after eight months of contract negotiations. The Union Council has unanimously voted to send this agreement to the membership for ratification. As stated in the Elections Committee notification that was emailed last week, the online ratification vote will be open from July 11th at 9am to July 13th at 5pm. The email with the ballot link will include a contract highlights sheet and the full text of the new contract language.

We believe that we have won historic gains in these negotiations, including significant salary increases, improved benefits, and stronger protections for Lecturer job security. So that members have ample time to review the changes in our contract, we are sending the summary of the LEO 2017-18 Bargaining Gains now. You can also find the full draft text of the contract by following this link.

You must be a member of your union to participate in the vote. If you are not a member, but want to receive a ballot by July 11, you can fill out a membership card here.

The LEO Bargaining Team strongly endorses this agreement and believes it is the best possible contract for the membership.

Your Bargaining Team

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – University of Michigan Lecturers Negotiate Agreement to Raise Pay, Improve Health Care and Job Security

For immediate release, June 22
Contact:  Roger Kerson, roger@rkcommunications.net, 734.645.0535

University of Michigan Lecturers Negotiate Agreement to Raise Pay, Improve Health Care and Job Security

Salary Increases on All Campuses;
LEO Members to Vote by Electronic Ballot in July

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN – The Lecturers Employee Organization (LEO), AFT-Michigan Local 6244, announced today that following marathon bargaining sessions over the past three days, the union bargaining team has negotiated an agreement with the University that will raise pay, improve health care and boost job security for 1,700 lecturers who teach tens of thousands of students on the Flint, Ann Arbor and Dearborn campuses.

“We’ve been working since October 2017 to create an agreement that will ensure quality education for our students and fair compensation for our members,” said LEO President Ian Robinson, a lecturer in the Sociology Department at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “Thanks to incredible organizing by our members, hard work by our bargaining team, and tremendous support from our students, AFT-Michigan and other allies, we have negotiated an agreement which we will be proud to present to our members for their review and, I hope, approval.”

“This is a huge victory for our members, it is equally a win for the University and our students,” said Kirsten Herold, a lecturer at the UM School of Public Health, LEO Vice President and manager of the LEO bargaining team. “Higher pay will lead to less turn-over, more lecturers working fulltime — rather than holding multiple part-time jobs — and a more stable learning environment for our students to whom our membership are so dedicated.”

The agreement, which is subject to a ratification vote by dues-paying LEO members, includes substantial increases for minimum pay, as well as equity adjustments depending on length of service, for lecturers on all three campuses.

By the end of the third year of the proposed collective agreement, the minimum salary at which UM can hire entry-level faculty with Lecturer I appointments will increase by $16,500 (47.8 percent) in Ann Arbor; $13,700 (50.2percent) in Flint, and $12,700 (44.9 percent) in Dearborn. Current lecturers will receive annual base pay raises ranging from $3,000 to $12,500, depending on length of service. Lecturers currently earning over $80,000 a year will receive a combination of base increases and lump-sum payments, rather than total base-pay increases.

The University’s contribution to retirement income for lecturers, based on a percentage of salary, will increase along with the pay raises. The financial package that will be sent to LEO members for a ratification vote also improves access to health care for lecturers with variable teaching schedules throughout the calendar year and modifies the performance review process to enhance job security.

“We believe this is a transformative agreement and we look forward to reviewing it in detail with LEO members,” said Shelley Manis, a lecturer at the UM Sweetland Center for Writing and LEO co-chair on the Ann Arbor campus. “They will decide if this meets the primary goal we identified at the beginning of negotiations: An agreement that allows us to go into our classrooms with the fair pay and job security that’s required to deliver the quality education our students deserve.”

“This is what dignity looks like,” said Stephanie Gelderloos, a lecturer in English and LEO chair at University of Michigan, Flint. “We made progress because our members have rallied, petitioned, and taken action to demonstrate the value that non-tenure teaching faculty contribute to this university.”

“The University of Michigan is a public university with a responsibility to educate immigrants, students of color, and students who are the first in their family to go to college,” said Sheryl Edwards, a lecturer in social sciences and LEO chair at University of Michigan, Dearborn. “With major pay raises on all campuses, we think this agreement moves us in that direction. Our bargaining team convinced the UM administration to make major changes with incredible support from students, faculty, members of the Board of Regents, elected officials, community allies, AFT Michigan, and our brother and sister union members.”

LEO members in Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint will review details of the agreement during upcoming meetings in June, and vote on contract ratification by electronic ballot in July.


Good News!! (Also, Time Change at Pierpont Tomorrow)

Dear Lecturers,

Guess what? We’ve got some great news!

As many people were anxiously anticipating, today the University Regents voted on a budget for next academic year. The budget they passed contained a substantial increase for our contract.

After a marathon hurry-up-and-wait yesterday, and a more compact version of that today, we negotiated a fantastic financial package of our contract–and it’s a deal we’ll be VERY proud to send to membership for ratification.

In light of this, there is a bargaining time change for tomorrow: we are NOT starting at 10am at Pierpont Commons. Rather, beginning at 11, small groups from each side will meet to iron out final details and outstanding non-economic issues. Members are, as always, welcome, but be advised, it will not be sexy. We’ll make a public statement at the conclusion of negotiations early tomorrow afternoon.

At the 5 campus membership meetings happening over the next few days, we will present details about the historic gains we have made in negotiations. All Lecturers are welcome and should come. Non-members should note: if you wish to have a vote on the ratification of the contract, you can sign a membership card at a meeting.

Come to any meeting that is convenient to you – it does not have to be on the campus where you teach. The meeting schedule is as follows:

Monday, June 25 at 6pm in Ann Arbor, location TBD.
Tuesday, June 26 at 2pm in Ann Arbor, location TBD.
Tuesday, June 26 at 6pm in Kochoff Hall C on the Dearborn campus.
Wednesday, June 27 at 2pm in Kochoff Hall C on the Dearborn campus.
Thursday, June 28 at 7pm in IBEW Local 948, 1251 W Hill Road, Flint.

–Your Bargaining Team

Real-Time Updates on LEO Bargaining 6.20

For those of you without social media, check back on this post for updates on where and when bargaining is happening today. Today is our last bargaining session before tomorrow’s regents’ meeting and budget vote.

Bargaining on Wednesday, June 20 is located in the School of Social Work Building on Central Campus in Ann Arbor.

UPDATE 11:45 PM:
With midnight in sight, bargaining has halted until 10:30 tomorrow (Thursday) morning, when it will resume at Academic HR, probably the South Room, in the Administrative Services Building on the corner on Hoover and Greene (1009 Greene St.). Let’s see whether admin is willing to make the moves necessary to offer an acceptable proposal by the time the Regents’ Meeting begins at 3:30 PM! Tick-tock, tick-tock!

UPDATE 8:37PM: We haven’t gone to the table today, but updates/reports continue to trickle in via small group or sidebar discussions. Members are still welcome to check in with us and see what’s going on. Signs are posted at School of Social Work building entrances for you to call someone to let you in. Join us in the caucus room – B780 (basement level) in the School of Social Work. There’s still food!

UPDATE 5:15PM: Small group is over for now, but we are not going back to the table yet. Lecturers are enjoying dinner from Arbor Farms together. With high turnout, it’s a real party. Stop by to say hi. Join us in the caucus room – B780 (basement level) in the School of Social Work. Bargaining will be in Room 1840 if/when it resumes.

UPDATE 3:54PM: Our caucus room has been relocated from Room 3752 to the basement of the School of Social Work building, Room B780. The bargaining room is still Room 1840, the Educational Conference Center. We have not gone to the table with both bargaining teams yet, a small group is currently happening. When you arrive head to the caucus room in the basement.

VIDEO: Dearborn & Flint Students Speak Up

In this video about LEO’s contract bargaining, students from Dearborn and Flint ask WHY the U continues to financially starve the campuses with our most diverse student bodies.

Check it out, and share WIDELY–we want the people with the pursestrings to know that we’re watching the decisions they make on the budget this week!


University of Michigan Donors – ACT NOW!

Anyone who regularly donates or has ever donated to the University of Michigan has power to help us get a fair contract. This letter provides two templates: 1) a letter for you to reach out to potential donors whom you might know, and 2) a template for you and them to reach out to the University Regents, President, and Provost to tell them that you will not donate to the University again until Lecturers have a fair contract.


If you are a donor, 1) write to the University leadership yourself, then 2) forward this template to everyone you know who might be able to use it. If you are not a donor, forward the template anyway to ask donors you might know to use it.

Please do this today if you believe that we are the Leaders and Best and that the education that we received from University of Michigan is worth more. It is an embarrassment for any faculty at this renowned institution to rely on food stamps and other public assistance, or work 2-4 jobs, to support their families. The working conditions of our high-caliber faculty are the learning conditions of current University of Michigan students. We owe it to future generations to use our power and Build a Better Blue.


Sarah Rovang Interview


Amidst the escalating stakes and complexity of the contract campaign —certainly our most important current collective endeavor — it’s important to remember that Lecturers are very often potent forces on an individual basis as well. We are accomplished academics, artists, industry professionals, innovators, and so forth. While classroom instruction is our primary explicit undertaking, many of us also provide crucial service and/or engage in significant research. 

I recently spoke with fellow LEO member Sarah Rovang, who I was excited to hear had recently received the H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellowship, which comes with $50,000 funding for pursuing architectural matters at the global level. We’ll find out more in a moment.

Before we get started, just to clarify, some of this written interview was conducted via email, and while it’s intended to complement the video interview recorded and edited by Erik Marshall, it’s not an exact transcript of that session.


Hi, Sarah! Thanks for this opportunity to interview you about your own impending opportunity.

Sure, John. It’s my pleasure. Thanks for coming all the way to North Campus.

What’s your current appointment at the University of Michigan? Are you able to work full-time?

I’m currently a Lec I teaching a 2/2 load, which in my department constitutes full time.

How did you become a U-M lecturer?

I was living in Ann Arbor finishing my dissertation remotely in 2016. My spouse got a postdoc in the physics department, and I moved out here to be with him. At the same time, I started a collaboration with a tenured faculty member here in the architecture department. Through that connection, I was able to walk into a full-time lectureship because four permanent architectural history faculty went on leave or sabbatical simultaneously. It was really fortuitous, and I was really honored to be hired full-time again this year even with some of those other faculty back and teaching again.

What are your particular academic and professional interests?

Broadly, I study the architecture of the United States in the twentieth century. My dissertation examined the architecture of the Rural Electrification Administration, a New Deal Program that brought electricity to farmers through cooperatives. They hired this European emigré architect to design pretty radically modern buildings for their offices and power plants in extremely rural parts of the United States. This interest in the intersection of industry, technology, rurality, and architecture is what led me to apply for the H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellowship.

Congratulations on winning the 2017 award! Could you tell us something about the H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellowship?

It’s sponsored by the Society of Architectural Historians and provides a unique opportunity for an emerging scholar to travel for a year with very few obligations or restrictions. The expectation is that the fellow will produce a monthly blog post and upload some of their architectural photos to the society’s database, but otherwise it’s meant to be an opportunity for sustained reflection and engagement with different built environments and cultures.

Do you know how many other people were in consideration for this honor?

I have no idea. It’s a small field, but this is an international competition open to scholars across the world. This year’s winner is from Nigeria. But they only award one per year, and I will only be the fifth recipient.

How do you plan to use the fellowship? How much traveling will be involved?

I will be using my fellowship to study the Public History of World Industrial Heritage. I’m really interested in how different nations experienced modernization across varying architectural and cultural modalities. I will be traveling for a full year, starting in July. I plan to visit Japan, South Africa, Chile, Western Europe, Scandinavia, and the UK. My goal is to observe how industrial heritage sites are being interpreted for the public. What kind of infrastructure is in place, and how do digital and physical structures make those sites available to diverse publics?

Do you know where your intellectual and geographical explorations will lead you? Will you ever return? Then again, I guess not knowing what you’ll discover would be part of the fun.

I’m mostly curious to see how industrialization and modernization are presented differently in various global contexts. I think it’s hard to let go of believing that modernization follows a similar trajectory in different parts of the world, but I suspect that the diversity of cultural contexts and historical circumstances means that global modernization itself is as complex and poly-vocal as the modernist expression that responds to the conditions of modernity. And yes, I’m definitely coming back to the U.S. — there’s plenty of work to be done here too on this topic.

Switching gears a bit, how did you first hear about the Lecturers’ Employee Organization?

I heard about LEO at faculty orientation and immediately signed my card and became a member, but it took a little longer for me to get more involved.

What, if anything, prompted the deeper level of engagement?

There were two primary motivators for my involvement with LEO. The first was that I was already interested in labor history thanks to my dissertation work on the New Deal. I knew historically what unions have accomplished in terms of winning fair living wages and better working conditions for people across a wide variety of trades. I also knew that unions are often unfairly stigmatized. I felt strongly coming into this job that collective bargaining is one of the very few ways where workers in lower-paying jobs who have little job security can advocate for themselves.

Secondly, following the 2016 election, I was all colors of angry, terrified, and despondent. Becoming involved in LEO seemed like a very immediate and palpable way to become politically active and to feel like I was accomplishing something. LEO’s collaboration with other regional unions and involvement in bigger political issues is really inspirational.

I totally agree! Against this larger backdrop of national, even international neoliberalism, what are some of the particular issues most important to you as we bargain for a new LEO-UM contract?

First and foremost, salary. All things considered, the lecturers in my department are treated quite fairly. I was horrified to learn that lecturers in Flint and Dearborn are teaching 4/4 loads for $28 grand a year. That’s only a little more than what I made on a graduate-school stipend.

Yes, it’d be great for LEO to be able to tackle salary parity across the three campuses more vigorously down the road. But I’m sorry to interrupt!

You’re absolutely right. And the sad thing is, many other adjuncts across the nation, especially those without union support, are in a much worse position. I think LEO’s salary fight is therefore also important symbolically — hopefully we can show other institutions that there is another way. If I had to name a second top priority, though, I’d have to say child care subsidies and parental leave. I haven’t started a family yet, but when I do, I want a contract that acknowledges the legitimacy of teaching alongside raising a family.

In the spirit of Barbara Walters, let me ask: If LEO were a building or architectural style, what would it be?

LEO would be an extremely solid, brick Public Works Administration building from the 1930s. It would have with a lobby covered in a really grandiose mural series called something like “Triumph of the Lecturer.”

Something in the spirit of Diego Rivera or Thomas Hart Benton?

Precisely. A whole rainbow of lecturers teaching, researching, serving the community, and caring for their families.

What do you think non-architects understand least about architects?

I’m not technically an architect, so I might not be the person to answer this question, but I do think that architecture lecturers are unique in that many of them maintain their own professional design practices outside of teaching. This practice is, in essence, research, but it’s not research that is really recognized in the Lecturer I contract.

As both a Lec I and a poet myself, I find myself in similar circumstances, trying to be a working artist as well as an instructor. How much have you been able to pursue your own research aside from teaching? Have you had to defer it until the fellowship kicks in?

I’ve been extremely lucky in that I’ve had the opportunity to teach a number of graduate electives designed around my own research interests.  For instance, this semester I’m teaching a seminar on American architectural modernism, which is the underlying theme of my dissertation. Since I’m currently in the beginning stages of turning my dissertation into a book manuscript, this class has been a productive way to keep those ideas fresh, and my brilliant students are constantly giving me new things to think about. I’m also working with a very talented undergraduate student through UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program). Being accountable to my research mentee has helped me keep my new research project on track despite my teaching schedule.

What do you think your students understand least about lecturers?

I don’t think that my students understand that lecturer may have similar qualifications as tenure-track professors but have a very different pay scale and different benefits, and that this difference is a result of an academic system that cranks out people with graduate degrees such that they flood the academic system as supply outstrips demand. The two-tiered system of schools like UM that rely heavily on adjunct labor exploits that supply for profit. Lecturers create a significant revenue surplus and allow UM the curricular flexibility that students have come to expect.

Finally, what’s the one question no one ever asks you, but you wish they did?

One question that I’m tired of being asked is who my favorite architect is. When you’re an architectural historian, you almost know too much. In addition to knowing about the creative genius of an architect, you probably also know about the buildings that leaked or didn’t function like they were supposed to. You know about personal indiscretions or tyrannical office practices. I think a more interesting question might be, which historical architect would you most have liked to work for?

On that note, for which historical architect would you most liked to have worked, and why?

I’m a historian and not an architect for a good reason. But I would have worked for I.M. Pei. Unlike so many architects of the twentieth century who seem so driven by ego, Pei radiated kindness, humor, and curiosity about the built world. He was also a provocative and talented designer. And without necessarily intending to, I think he also did a lot to further the cause of diversity in architecture.

That makes a lot of sense. With all the discourse these days about bad people creating good art — if it can still be considered “good art” separately from its flawed creators — it’s encouraging to know that some figures can still be emulated for their personal conduct as well as their talent. But that’s probably a conversation for a completely different time.

It’s important to know, though, that many lecturers are still engaged in these sorts of big, international conversations, even on top of teaching and bargaining this year.

Sarah, thanks again for talking with us! And best of luck making use of the H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellowship! It’s fantastic to see non-tenure track faculty honored as the superlative academic professionals they are.

Thank you, John. It’s been great talking to you. Good luck to you and all of the other Lecs next year. I hope we win the contract we all deserve.


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.”

Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 10.28.15 AM

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.


#SOS #ShameOnSchlissel – ACTION NOW!

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel continues to deny living wages and equitable compensation to Lecturers, the non-tenure track faculty at the University of Michigan who generate $462 million in tuition revenue each year. Most egregiously, Schlissel is determined to direct far fewer resources to Lecturers on UM Dearborn and Flint campuses. Contact him RIGHT NOW to tell him this is unacceptable. He must listen to the Board of Regents, who have been clear in their support and respect for our fight for a fair contract.

Use this phone #: 734-890-5169
Email: presoff@umich.edu
Twitter: @DrMarkSchlissel

  1. Tell Schlissel to give us a fair contract with living wages on ALL THREE campuses, by the end of April.
  2. Let him know in your call/email/Tweet what leverage you have to care about this issue. Are you a donor? Tuition payer? Michigan taxpayer? Do you have press contacts that you’ll use? Are you planning on attending the May 17 Regents Meeting? Tell him this so he knows to listen up.
  3. Pick one of the following issues that remain unresolved at the bargaining table and let him know that it matters to you:
    *UM continues to unfairly disadvantage Dearborn and Flint Lecturers/campuses
    *Minimum salaries are still hovering near $40k/yr for Ann Arbor and $30k/yr for Dearborn and Flint
    *Equity compensation for long-exploited Lecs remains minimal
    *Admin refuses to approve a working title change to Teaching Professor to A) reflect the respect we deserve and B) make it possible to continue recruiting high-caliber faculty

Can you call TODAY?