LEO Publicly Responds to Admin's Insulting Salary Counter in Pre-Regents' Meeting Press Conference

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Sitting down to write this post, our first instinct is to be wary of the fact that we've given you a lot to digest lately. Maybe you're tired of hearing that while undergraduate tuition has gone up approximately 90% in the last 14 years, lecturers' salaries have increased by only 11%.

Maybe the mere thought of being told, again, that because salaries for lecturers are substandard, many of our members have to work two or even three jobs to make ends meet. Imagine (if you're not!) being one of the lecturers in the position of working two or three jobs after dedicating yourself to years of education, teaching, and professionalization.

Maybe you're over hearing that the revenue WE generated in 2016-2017 by tuition for the credit hours we taught, according to the University's own audit, was $462 million. And that only $85 million of that went to our ENTIRE bargaining unit's wages and benefits. Yes. That leaves $377 million the U is sitting on, earned by us. In a U with a 10.9 BILLION DOLLAR endowment. You read that right: Billion.

We're exhausted and over it, too--NONE OF THIS is OK. And surprisingly, not as many people know it as you'd think.

So we held a press conference just before the Regents' Meeting this past Thursday the 15th, where LEO president Ian Robinson presented our case again, and LEO lecturers Anita Baxter Blough (Flint) and Rabindar Subbian (Ann Arbor) told their own stories of struggling to make ends meet while continuing to preserve excellence in teaching for their students.

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To amplify our calls for fairness, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Historian and UM tenured professor Heather Ann Thompson came back to town from Boston--where she is currently a visiting scholar at Harvard's Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History--to add her voice to ours. Heather's statements are available in full here, but one thing she said regarding the tired argument admin drags out that we get paid what the market will bear should be pasted all over the university: "If you aspire to be 'the leaders and the best,' then you don’t follow the market – you create the market."

One more time: "If you aspire to be 'the leaders and the best,' then you don't follow the market--you create the market."

So yeah, we're tired of all of these numbers, too. But it's time to leverage that exhaustion and turn it into righteous anger as fuelwhich, as one of our members said last week is " a good fuel, burns clean."

What can I do, you may ask? Well, you can:

  • Talk to everyone who will listen (and maybe shout at some who won't) about these numbers and these conditions.
  • Come to bargaining and demonstrate by your very presence that this will not stand.
  • Pick up a #RespectTheLecs button and wear it every day until we get a contract.
  • Hang  a "WorthMore" poster on your office door and ask your tenure track and staff allies to do the same.
  • Sign a petition expressing your support for a major job action in the event that admin doesn't come with a real offer.
  • You can run this slideshow in your classrooms as you're setting up before class starts, or closing down after.
  • Send people to our Power Building Toolkit for more ways to support us.

It's time to rally our strength, build numbers every single day, and get the contract we deserve, not the contract some faceless, soulless "market" can get away with.

We're #WorthMore!

--Shelley Manis & Angie Liao