Bargaining Update, 12/1

I usually hate rallies, but LEO rallies rule. Our rally Friday was, in fact, lit. Elected officials Yousef Rabhi and Michelle Deatrick stopped by. Tenure-track allies and students from RadFun, Students4Justice, and YDSA spoke. Umich student and sprinkler fitters' union member Justin Villanueva and Fred Klein of the Ann Arbor Education Association gave impassioned speeches. Their presence and vocal support attested to the fact that our allies are truly with us. Our cause is just, our demands are sensible, and they have struck a chord with the broader University of Michigan community. Kirsten Herold, in her remarks to the crowd, duly noted that this is a fight not just for our students, or for us as lecturers, but also for students and lecturers across the nation.

Friday, the part of the fight we brought to the table was an ambitious proposal for a large fund to support lecturers who want specialized inclusive teaching and learning training, as well as lecturers designing community service-based courses. In the context of the events not only of the year since the 2016 election, but also in the last week around the pending discussion about whether we can rent space to Richard Spencer, this proposal is especially important. As we made clear in our public statement, as well as at the rally today, this campus is no place for white supremacy, and part of rooting that out is chipping away at systems that implicitly support it.

The afternoon bargaining session, then, saw presentations by a tenure track professor, LEO members, and even a student, about currently free labor around diversity and inclusion--the kind of work our proposal aims to financially and professionally support in the future. One stunning example is the work of Dominique Butler-Borruat from the RC, a lecturer who has served for 25 years, is now the head of the French Program there, and has established a working relationship with Detroit’s Freedom House, which provides “shelter to victims of persecution seeking asylum in the United States.” Afforded by a 2-credit mini course scaffolding the work, she and her students regularly assist clients with legal documents and other potentially life-saving translation needs. Management was receptive to the presentations and had some questions, and we look forward to continuing these conversations.

Friday's rally and bargaining were extremely well-attended (we had 70 lecturers and 50 allies throughout the day), requiring building workers to bring in extra chairs twice. This makes an impact on management. And if we want that impact to add up to victory, we need to build on this trend every week. We bargain again this Friday, December 8th, at Palmer Commons. Let's see how far we can beat that number. 

—Shelley Manis and Phil Christman

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