UM lecturers vote to OK contract that hikes pay

Blake Alsup
The Detroit News
Michigan Union in Ann Arbor. The three-year contract raises wages, improves health care and boosts job security for about 1,700 lecturers across the Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn campuses.

Lecturers at the University of Michigan have voted to ratify a three-year contract that includes higher pay.

Members of the Lecturers' Employee Organization, a union made up of UM professors, voted electronically between Wednesday and Friday, according to a news release Friday from the organization.

More than 98 percent of voting union members were in favor of the contract ratification, according to the release.

The new agreement is a result of eight months of negotiations between the university and union, and takes effect upon ratification, according to UM spokesman Rick Fitzgerald. The three-year contract raises wages, improves health care and boosts job security for about 1,700 lecturers across the Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn campuses.

“Our members said they wanted a new kind of contract that would change how lecturers are paid and create the conditions for quality education for our students,” said a statement by LEO president Ian Robinson, a lecturer in the Sociology Department and the Residential College at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “The agreement approved in this week’s voting is transformative."

Pay raises will begin as soon as the upcoming school year for current lecturers under terms of the agreement.

As of Sept. 1, current lecturers will receive annual base pay raises ranging from $3,000 to $12,500, depending on their length of service. Lecturers earning more than $80,000 a year will receive a combination of base increases and lump-sum payments rather than total base-pay increases, the union said.

“The changes in the contract recognize the important contributions that lecturers make within the university community,” said Sascha Matish, associate director of Academic Human Resources and lead negotiator for the university, in a statement by UM. “We will now work closely with University Human Resources and the schools and colleges to implement the terms.”

By Sept. 1, 2020, the minimum salary at which UM can hire entry-level faculty with Lecturer I appointments will increase to $51,000, a 48 percent increase over the current minimum of $34,500.

The minimum salary for Lecturer I appointments at the Flint and Dearborn campuses will be $41,000, a 50.2 percent increase from the current $27,300 minimum in Flint and a 44.9 percent increase from the current $28,300 minimum in Dearborn.

UM's contribution to retirement income for lecturers, based on a percentage of salary, will increase along with pay raises, according to LEO.

“This agreement is a result of months of hard work at the bargaining table — and much more,” Kirsten Herold, a lecturer at the UM School of Public Health, LEO vice president and manager of the bargaining team said in a statement.

“We organized. We marched. We rallied. We lobbied. And we built a coalition that includes students, tenure-track faculty, union members on and off the campus, elected officials and community allies."

Herold said that the union didn't achieve everything that members wanted, but the contract does "recognize the value lecturers contribute on all three campuses and sets the stage for further improvements."

Other benefits in the contract include improved access to health care for lecturers with variable teaching schedules throughout the year, modifications to the performance review process to enhance job security and additional funding for professional development.