It's Flu Season... What are You Going to Do about it?
Have you ever lost your health insurance and wondered what you would do if you got sick? broke a leg? needed antibiotics? Have you ever had so much teaching work in the fall you didn't know if you could survive it, only to become almost or totally unemployed in the winter semester and also lose your benefits? I was in this situation for three years before I started getting UM benefits year-round.
For three fall semesters I had four appointments across two UM campuses, and two other jobs outside of that so I could have money to make it through winter when I knew there would be less work. And I had health insurance from Sept-Dec and then it ended. One year I finally got ACA insurance when that became available. One spring I applied for medicaid, and that got approved almost a year later, after I had gone back on UM benefits in the fall and then lost them again in the winter. Ironically though, my job--that should be considered a profession but is respected no more than that of a temp worker--is to help students succeed in their English and writing courses, in order to graduate, and to then get quality professional jobs with benefits.
My students are preparing to become engineers, doctors, lawyers, and more, but helping them to do those things doesn't qualify me as a professional who is respected with fair pay and benefits. I have multiple degrees and years of professional work experience, and the admin. takes that for granted. But Lecturers deserve to be treated like professionals for the work we do.
This Friday at bargaining, Benefits are on the table. We have already proposed various improvements, including these:
- Expanding benefits eligibility to those who average 50% for the year, so folks don’t keep going in and out of benefits eligibility
- Paid benefits during a one-year unpaid leave for long-serving lecs
- Childcare benefit
- Enhanced parental leave, especially for recently hired lecturers who don’t qualify for long-term sick pay
- Summer benefits bridge for those who were first hired in winter, who have a confirmed appointment for the following fall
And we should get the admin's proposals back to negotiate.
So far though, they have basically said NO to most of our proposals, handing us back versions of our documents with our proposed new language crossed out. Admin doesn't believe we should improve our contract to the benefit of Lecturers.
We need members in the room to help convince them we do deserve respect. Not only do we teach a majority of undergrad students across campuses, it is our labor that keeps many students in school, keeps departments and programs running, that makes the university work as an institution of higher education. If UM advertises excellence, LEO Lecturers play a huge role in providing that excellence in terms of quality of teaching and all of the other professional responsibilities and unrecognized labor we take on.
Help show admin that we do more than they want to admit we do, and that we are worth more than they are offering. Come to bargaining this Fri anytime between 9am and 4pm in Palmer Commons and then come socialize with other LEOs at the Social after to learn more about how you can be involved.
We also always need more member volunteers so ask any organizer how you can participate today!