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UM lecturers union postpones strike citing "progress" in contract talks

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

The union representing non-tenure track faculty at the University of Michigan has postponeda two-day strike that was supposed to start Monday.

The Lecturers Employee Organization (LEO) and U of M officials spent the weekend in contract talks. The talks are scheduled to continue this week.

“We are beginning to make progress at the bargaining table,” says LEO President Ian Robinson, a lecturer in the Sociology Department at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “We have not yet achieved our goal of a fair and reasonable settlement that recognizes the contribution lecturers make to the university and to our students.”

About 1,700 non-tenure track faculty teach at U of M campuses in Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint.

Pay is perhaps the biggest issue on the table.

The minimum starting salary for a lecturer is $27,300 at UM Flint, $28,300 at UM Dearborn, and $34,500 at UM Ann Arbor. The union claims that pay scale is lower than nearby community colleges and public schools.

The university has proposed increasing the minimum salaries over the course of the three-year agreement by $7,500 in Ann Arbor, and $5,700 in Dearborn and Flint.

“The university believes strongly that the collective bargaining process is effective and remains committed to bargaining in good faith,” says U of M spokesman Rick Fitzgerald. “We remain hopeful an agreement will be reached before the current contract ends April 20.”

Health benefits, job security, increasing diversity, the review process for lecturers, and job titles are also at issue in the contract talks.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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