Five Reasons You'll Be Happier If You Show Up For Bargaining

I know, I know—every LEO bargaining session is crucial. But it's really important for you to come for as much of this Friday's bargaining as you can. The reason is pretty simple. All our bargaining sessions thus far have been "firsts" of one kind or another: the fall kickoff, the first Flint session, the first Dearborn session, the first central-campus Ann Arbor session. Most of these days featured opening rallies of some sort. Thanks to all of you, and to our organizers, we've had fantastic attendance at all of these so far—the best, as I am told by experienced LEO hands, since our initial contract campaign. That's great, but if we really want to finish these negotiations with the best possible contract, we have to show management that we'll be there when there are no rallies; when our allies can't be there with us; when there are no "firsts," just the hard, dull work of showing up. 

I think our crowded rooms thus far have surprised them. But what will keep surprising them is a crowded room smack in the middle of the worst part of the semester.

I'm making this sound less fun than it is, though. Here are some reasons why, if you come join us for part or all of Friday's negotiations in Palmer Commons, you'll be pretty happy afterwards that you did.

  1. You can get so much done. I bring a big stack of papers and grade, grade, grade. It's the presence of interested parties in the room, perking up now and then when management says something wrongheaded, that matters. I've found that going to bargaining means I don't have to carve out as much grading time in the rest of my week as usual. My brain is shredded by the end of the day, but I teach first-year writing, so that's always true on a full day of grading.
  2. Intellectual work is isolating; political work is the antidote. I've hit this note several times in my blogging for LEO. Coming to bargaining days has allowed me to meet more of my colleagues, put names to faces, and rediscover that feeling I had the first week of grad school: Geez, it's fun to be surrounded by so many diversely smart people. It energizes the rest of my work.
  3. Free T-shirts. Our T-shirts look cool and you can have one for free if you come to bargaining on Friday. QED, you want to be there.
  4. Snacks. Nobody goes home hungry from these things, I've noticed. If you show up first thing in the morning, there tend to be donuts. Lots of donuts. They sit there for hours. Sometimes, in a spirit of shared sacrifice, I will eat the ones nobody else will. Lift this terrible burden from my shoulders. Show up for bargaining in the morning and eat all the donuts!
  5. You can see how this university is—and isn't—working. I'm often impressed by the level of detail to which both bargaining teams are capable of going at a moment's notice. It's a reminder of the complexity of this vast institution we inhabit. At the same time, throughout this campaign, I've been shocked at the things the bargaining team don't seem to know about teachers' lives, and that we as teachers don't know about each other. In a vast institution, sometimes the left hand forgets what the right hand is doing. Sometimes it doesn't even know there is a right hand.

    Phil Christman