2019 Campus Chair Election Candidate Statements

On September 16 & 17, members of the Lecturers’ Employee Organization will vote for their Campus Chairs, one each in Dearborn and Flint and two Co-Chairs in Ann Arbor. Below are the statements from each candidate.

Jimmy Brancho, Ann Arbor Campus Co-Chair
What draws me to my union is workplace equity. 2018 saw LEO cement huge gains in minimum salary for lecturers across campuses, and we fought hard for those gains. But we also went to the mat on equity raises for our most experienced teachers. I remember checking salaries when I first heard about the equity proposal. I found that some of my mentors who have been in my unit for a decade or more were making about $2,000 more than me, who had shown up a year ago. Teaching experience has to be worth more than a few hundred bucks a year. The hope that we could fix that inequity kept me going through a long bargaining campaign.

But we didn’t fix everything. Our colleagues working for the University of Michigan in Dearborn and Flint teach more classes and make less money than we do. As a union, a collective of workers that takes care of one another, we can’t let that slide. LEO has been actively pushing to break down funding barriers among the campuses through participation in the One University Coalition. The disparities remain, and a new bargaining campaign is just around the corner.

A union’s strength is its members – the goals we share, the relationships we form, and our willingness to stand up for one another. We won in 2018 because we got organized. Information got out at the right time, and we showed up.

We can win bigger in 2019 if we can make our organization even stronger. LEO has begun to implement Campus Councils, a stewardship system that puts a point person (or people) for information into each department on campus. I’ve volunteered as one of the stewards for the Sweetland Center for Writing. In that role, I’ll bring the union’s plans to my colleagues. But more importantly, I’ll work to find out my colleagues’ needs and grievances, and bring them to the union. I believe that the stewards system can be a cornerstone of our strength for the next bargaining campaign and beyond.

I want to join the Union Council as Ann Arbor co-chair to see this system come together. I want to see more member input on our bargaining platform than we’ve ever seen before because people feel like they have a person who cares about them that can help them be heard. I want to see more people at demonstrations and events because they know what we’re fighting for, what’s at stake, and why their presence matters.

Organizing this system and building these relationships is going to take a lot of work. I want to join the Council because I know I can do that work, and because I know that it will help us win. Thank you for considering me for Ann Arbor co-chair.

Erin Lavin, Ann Arbor Co-Chair
I am currently Ann Arbor Co-Chair of LEO and was elected to this position in Fall 2018. In my candidate statement last year, I wrote that, after our success at the bargaining table, it was “important that we channel that energy to committee work and to strong, visible, and organized department-level activism.” In the past year as a member of the Union Council, I have made that effort a priority and have worked actively to plan and begin to rebuild our Campus Council and steward structure. After several months of planning and collaborating with fellow lecturers, I’m happy to report that we currently have stewards and representatives from at least 21 departments on the Ann Arbor campus. We have plans to continue growing in how our union functions as a democratic and inclusive group, and I look forward to serving again in my role as Campus Co-Chair in the 2019-2020 academic year to support this growth. I invite each of you to get involved, too.

I am also an active member on the Communications Committee, and have participated before in the SPACE (Solidarity, Political Action, & Community Engagement), Social, and Elections Committees. I also have significant organizing experience before and throughout the contract campaign that I regularly apply to union efforts in our local as well as in statewide and national AFT initiatives.

I’m a Lecturer II of Spanish in the Romance Languages & Literatures Department. I hold a degree in trombone performance and Spanish from Vanderbilt University, as well as an M.A. and Ph.D. in Hispanic linguistics from Indiana University Bloomington. My research centers on social, ideological, and cultural dimensions of language use (pragmatics, discourse analysis) during spoken interactions in institutional settings. Like all of us, I bring my passion and expertise into my classrooms here, and I believe that our contributions to our students and the university should be affirmed through our working conditions.

Erik Marshall, Dearborn Campus Chair
I am running for re-election as Dearborn Campus Chair. 

In my first year, we began the process of (re)building the Campus Council, and I hope to build on the progress we’ve made so far. As we continue to build the Campus Council in Dearborn, we will be able not only to push for greater voice in faculty governance on the campus, but also to identify issues that are important to Dearborn lecturers as we prepare for bargaining next year. 

We still have a long way to go to close the gap between Ann Arbor and the satellite campuses. To that end, we need to continue to inform the Regents about the inequalities between campuses, as well as forge connections with state legislators to help them understand that the current funding structure for UM hurts those who need help most — our students, many of whom work full time and have to juggle family commitments while trying to get a quality education here.  Dearborn and Flint have the most diverse student populations, but they get the least money. This must change.

In addition to striving for equality between campuses, I plan to push for larger representation in faculty governance. Although we teach 50% of the classes in Dearborn, we do not have voting rights on many governing boards.  Faculty governance on this campus leaves a lot to be desired in general, and lecturers should be part of the conversation in strengthening faculty voices in the decision-making process.  

Finally, as part of the Union Council, I will continue to make sure Dearborn voices are represented within LEO as we move forward in solidarity, as one union and one university. 

Dean Adkins, Flint Campus Chair
I am running to be Campus Council Chair because I am proud to be a Lecturer at the University of Michigan-Flint and because I feel the Lecturers on the Flint campus need a much more developed relationship with Campus leadership and because I feel we have a unique responsibility within the Flint community to be leaders beyond the classroom. This is my perspective and I am committed to it.

I am also running to be Campus Chair because I feel that our LEO Union is more than a collective bargaining unit, it is a hallmark that other institutions watch and learn. This is both a grand opportunity to impact regional institutions and a great responsibility to ourselves. Moreover, Flint itself is on a public stage and I fully embrace the sense that as Lecturers we can contribute more than teaching but we can contribute expertise that rebuilds the community.

I have been a Lecturer for nine years on the University of Michigan Flint campus. I have a day-career practicing the same skills everyday that I teach on our campus at night. This is as it should be for my program because my students are pursuing careers where results determine whether your nonprofit organization succeeds or closes, whether their careers skyrocket or stall. With much talk committed to the practical value of a four-year college, I take great pride in providing instruction that relates directly to earning potential and career advancement. The state of our community and the economics of our campus demands this kind of accountability.

It was Professor Emeritus Dr. Lauren Friesen that hired me and first explained to me sitting in a coffee shop in Brighton one chilly January morning that our responsibility is far greater than teaching in that we are placing new leaders into a community whose needs are dire and problems complex. I carry this simple sentiment with me every time I step into French Hall to teach.

As you know, the compensation for Lecturers on the Flint Campus is the lowest of the three campuses and while I might understand the economics behind this disparity, I also feel that of the three campuses, the Flint campus is clearly most integral to its community or at least it could be. I applaud our new Chancellor, Deba Dutta, when he talks about our community and the needs of our campus being inseparable with Flint itself and that our approach must be entrepreneurial.

Today I ask for your vote to be Campus Chair but know that you have my support always.

Stephanie Gelderloos, Flint Campus Chair
Hello UM Flint Lecturers,

Many of you already know me, yet for those of you who do not, I first came to Flint in 2013 as a lecturer in the English department. For the past 3 years, I have been the Flint LEO Campus chair, and I am proud of my record of service in being an advocate for Flint lecturers individually and as a group.

In these 3 years, I have developed a good rapport with the rest of our union leadership, and I enjoy working with them. I have also come to know many lecturers across all three campuses. These relationships have taught me a lot about LEO history and the inner-workings of the University of Michigan. 

I feel at home in Flint, and I am very outspoken about the great work we do, and our value to the university and the community. I would be proud to continue to represent the needs of our community as your LEO chair for the next two years.

Thank you for your consideration.