U-M, LEO continue talks over Dearborn, Flint salary increases


After nearly six months of negotiations, the University of Michigan and the union representing nearly 1,800 lecturers on the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses have reached agreement on every contractual issue except salary increases.

The university’s latest salary offer includes base salary increases of 8%, 6%, 6% and 5% over the next four years for lecturers on the Ann Arbor campus, increases that university officials called “historic” and Lecturers’ Employee Organization leaders described as “major raises.”

Where the parties remain at odds is over salary increases for lecturers at UM-Dearborn and UM-Flint. The university’s latest offer includes 3% base salary increases in each of the contract’s four years for these employees, plus a $2,000 lump sum payment in the first year.

Union leaders said the raises aren’t enough and have issued a vote among members seeking authorization to call a strike “if the administration doesn’t meet LEO in a more reasonable place.” The results of the vote are expected late April 23.

(Updated on 04/25/24: LEO members authorized the union’s leadership council to call a strike but leaders have voted not to do so at this point “due to the positive response from management to the union’s significant movement,” according to a union press release.)

In a message sent to lecturers April 22, provosts on each of the three campuses — Laurie K. McCauley of Ann Arbor, Gabriella Scarlatta of Dearborn, and Yener Kandogan of Flint — pointed to the “remarkable progress” made in six months of negotiations, including nearly 40 tentative agreements on a range of contractual matters.

Notable tentative agreements include adding a provision to the contract regarding lecturers’ abilities to serve as principal investigators for grants, committing to diversity in lecturer hiring and requiring units to improve documentation of performance concerns.

Citing pay increases as “the only outstanding issue,” the provosts wrote that salary offers differ by campus because each campus operates independently and has different financial constraints.

“Because the three campuses have three separate budgets, three separate tuition rates, and three separate state funding sources, the base salary increases among the three campuses are not the same,” they wrote.

“In addition, due to enrollment declines, the Dearborn and Flint campuses have different financial constraints than the Ann Arbor campus. Therefore, the respective salary increases reflect those financial differences.”

Union leaders argue that the 3% annual increases are not enough to address inflation, child-care expenses, housing costs and increases in overall cost of living.

“We have made considerable strides in so many areas; however, our members cannot accept raises far below the level of inflation for our Flint and Dearborn members,” said Kirsten Herold, LEO president. “The decision to strike, if it is made, will not be made lightly, as we understand the impact on our students and the campus.”

If the union chooses to strike, union officials said it will likely take the form of a grade strike, which involves withholding students’ final grades as a means of putting pressure on the university to respond to its contract demands.

University leaders say a strike would be illegal under state law and would violate the existing labor contract, which remains in effect.

“Continuity of education for our students remains a top priority,” the provosts’ message stated. “The university will take all necessary steps to continue operations and deliver our academic mission as well as to enforce the contract as agreed upon by the university and the union.”

The message added that those next steps may include disciplinary action and stopping pay for those who withhold grades or engage in other strike activity, seeking legal remedies against the union for breach of contract and unfair labor practices, and stopping the deduction of union dues from employee paychecks.


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