Flint, MI— Lecturers at the University of Michigan’s Flint and Dearborn campuses will now make the same starting salary as those who teach at the main Ann Arbor campus.
On Sept. 19, the University of Michigan Lecturers’ Employee Organization, the union representing non-tenure track faculty, reached a contract agreement with the university’s administration after nine months of negotiations.
The contract includes a starting salary of $51,000 for lecturers across all three campuses beginning in the 2023-2024 school year—a $10,000 increase for lecturers in Flint and Dearborn.
In addition to the minimum salary increase, current lecturers will receive longevity raises which will take effect in the upcoming month.
“Flint and Dearborn have historically been paid less than lecturers in Ann Arbor. You could say, for the simple reason that there’s a lot more money in Ann Arbor, but also because of the general sort of siloing of the three campuses,” LEO President Kirsten Herold said.
Parity was the union’s main priority for the new contract, she said.
“People in Flint and Dearborn were sick of being underpaid,” Herold said. “The University of Michigan is a very wealthy university. With $12 billion in the endowment, we are a hugely wealthy institution. There was really no good reason or no good excuse for paying people so much less.”
LEO Chair for UM-Flint Steven Toth said he cried when he heard the news. When he first started fifteen years ago, the minimum salary was $27,000 for Flint and Dearborn lecturers and $34,000 for Ann Arbor lecturers.
“I got so emotional knowing I started at $27,000, and three years from now, a lecturer that starts is going to be making exactly the same as an Ann Arbor lecturer. … That’s remarkable movement in the span of about 10 years,” Toth said.
Toth teaches chemistry at UM-Flint and said that most of his colleagues have second jobs.
“When we have second jobs, that means we’re putting in the effort to teach, but not putting in so much effort for maybe letters of recommendation, being able to work closer on projects, being able to provide good research opportunities,” he said.
Toth also said with better pay, UM-Flint will draw more talent.
“We’re going to be able to attract a better cohort of lecturers across all three campuses. It’s hard to fill these lecture positions when they’re so low paid,” he said.
The contract also guarantees annual raises of at least 2.25%, 2.75%, and 3.25% and allows longtime lecturers to apply for the title of Teaching Professor.
“This (title) doesn’t come with any money whatsoever. It is purely just a respect thing,” Toth said.
He said that throughout the negotiation process, students at UM-Flint were highly supportive.
“I hope the moral of the story, especially to all the students out there is the power of collective action and the power of unions. We were very forward facing with every media outlet and with every person we talked to that we were looking for parity. And if I had $1 for every person along the way that said, ‘it’s not going to happen,’ I would be making a lot more money than I do now,” Toth said.