This is not business as usual. The exploitation of Lecturers cannot continue.
On Monday, February 12, University of Michigan administration finally came to the bargaining table to give Lecturers a counterproposal on our salary ask. Administration's proposal for alleviating the extreme economic burden that Lecturers bear - despite their vital contribution to the core mission of the university - was absolutely pitiful.
The response from Kirsten Herold - LEO's Vice President, Contract Administrator on Ann Arbor campus, and bargaining team manager (i.e., Superwoman) - made it clear to administration's bargaining team that this disgraceful treatment of Lecturers cannot stand. Read the transcription (created by LEO's bargaining team notetaker, staff organizer, and laid-off Lecturer Alex Elkins) of her blistering, incisive response below.
And remember as you read: We will get what we are organized to win. We're mad, and we need to show up and declare as loudly as possible that we will not accept this. Let's do it together.
KH: All right, we’re not gonna thank you for your proposal. As far as we can tell your basic argument is you’ve exploited us for so long, you’re gonna keep exploiting us. You’re actually exploiting us more.
As I noted in my opening statement, in the last fourteen years, the salary minimums have gone up 11% in Ann Arbor, 14% in Dearborn, and 18% in Flint – and in that time period tuition has gone up about 90 percent. That means every year you make more money from our work. Our undergraduate students can expect to make much more than us – their first job offer is more than you pay us.
You talk about the market and what it can bear but there’s a lot of different ways to talk about the market. Universities have created the market. You turn out PhDs and then say we’re not gonna pay you. It’s completely disgusting. The numbers you gave us, the people here are insulted. Members who have – all they want to do is make $40,000 before they retire. Members cannot afford to have children. Members cannot afford to buy a home because under these salaries they can’t pay off their student debt. You bank on every year hiring 300 new people, a lot of turnover, and you bank on the fact that a lot of the people who stay long-term, they have a spouse who makes more money. You’re like Walmart — you’re expecting other area employers to subsidize your poor employment practices.
I’m going to respond to the specific pieces of your proposal.
You say minimums should go up. We agree with you on that. They need to go up a lot more than you offered.
As you put the annual raises, people will lose ground on their annual raises.
As far as long-term Lecturers, your statement that we’re not interested in equity adjustments and longevity raises, there are so many things you’re not interested in. It’s astonishing. Last time we bargained, you said you’re not interested in our proposals twenty-one times. People are literally losing money every year. We need to signal to you that wherever we end up on salary, long-term raises for people who’ve been here a long time will be part of the final package.
We’re gonna leave now. We’re not giving you Article XI. We’re extremely angry. This is not business as usual. That’s it.
[Lecturers stand up in unison and walk out]