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Posted on Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 5:07 p.m.

University of Michigan agrees to contract with lecturers union ahead of right to work deadline

By Ben Freed

The University of Michigan and the Lecturers’ Employee Organization announced Wednesday that they have reached a tentative five-year contract that will be ratified one week before new right-to-work legislation takes effect. According to a story in the Detroit News, the previous deal between U-M and the union had been set to expire April 20.


Michigan union members protested right-to-work legislation before it was passed at Michigan's capitol. Since the bill's passing, many unions have reached new deals before the provisions take effect.

J. Scott Park | MLive Media Group

The Lecturers Employee Organization represents about 1,500 non-tenure track instructors on University of Michigan campuses in Ann Arbor, Flint, and Dearborn. The organization’s contract with the university contains language that allows lecturers to either join the union or pay a service fee.

Negotiations had been ongoing since November, and a joint statement from the two parties said the agreement was reached in good faith. The contract will be ratified by mail with a deadline of March 21.

Ben Freed covers business for You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Reach out to Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2


Atlas Shrugged

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

What if... ...the U of M was partaking in union contract renegotiations far in advance of the usual time to take up these matters (ie, unions other than the lecturers' organization); ...the health system was doing the same with still other unions; ...the negotiations and related discussions are being done in secret; ...the most obvious reason for these premature and secret discussions is to skirt the "work to right" laws? ...and the president of the university knows well that this is going on. Well, all this is happening behind the scenes, according to a "reliable" source. Doubt me if you wish, but check it out, staff!

Atlas Shrugged

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 11:56 p.m.

Mr. K.... I was referring to contracts being considered now a year or more before they would normally come up for renegotiation. There is nothing more for me to read, since absolutely none of this has been reported in the press. If I am wrong on this, please direct me in the right place(s). As far as your comment "intelligent and educated people know" right to work laws are a bad deal goes: On what basis do you make that ludicrous claim? Those laws may be bad for the union higher-ups who are living the life of Reilly off the backs of union dues-payers, but they're probably not in the class of intelligent and educated people.

Ed Kimball

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:30 p.m.

Behind the scenes? You need to read more. All of this is public knowledge. The "right-to-work" laws are a bad deal for working people, and intelligent and educated people know it.

P. J. Murphy

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:22 p.m.

Before spending too much energy jumping up and down on this agreement between the University and a union, it's worth considering how much the University has gained from unions. Unions led the movement that created an middle class of industrial workers during the 30's thru the 80's. The affluence of this group and the taxes they paid essentially built the modern University. Of course today, union economic power and State contributions have nearly evaporated. So the University has had to search for other sources. Enter the big donors, who purchase respectability with their mega-gifts. Call me old fashioned, but building the University on the shoulders of it's citizens seems, well more fair, and to be blunt, more American.

Jay Thomas

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 10:01 p.m.

You left out mentioning the auto industry specifically. Those big evil corporations and THEIR TAXES were a major source of funding in building Michigan's University system. But if you want to give all the credit to the union workers, that's your business.

P. J. Murphy

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 5:46 p.m.

If you want to accuse me of mythmaking feel free. But I'm comfortable that economic data will support my narrative. Meanwhile it's slightly disingenuous to pivot and peddle the old canard that "unions destroyed the big three". The decline of these companies extended from the boardroom to the shop floor. Ever drive a Chevy Citation, a Chrysler K Car, or a Vega? These companies were sclerotic from top to bottom. Cheaper labor wouldn't have saved them from their arrogant and inept management.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:57 p.m.

"The History of The United States," by P.J. Murphy, is certainly an interesting tale - one of many disparate facts woven together to tell a glowing story. It's still a story, however. Fast forward to the chapter where unions once dominated GM - a company which held a 50% market share in the U.S., only to see its share slip to 17% (and falling) today. But I digress. As a public university, this school was built on the backs of all taxpayers of this state - not just the ones in the "middle class" (a nebulous concept if ever there was one), and certainly not just the small proportion of those who were unionized.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:06 p.m.

The agreement was reached only to save the union and not to do what's right for the lecturers. It's very disappointing.

Jay Thomas

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 9:22 a.m.

The regents will rubber stamp it. After all, they're just there to use the furniture.

Mackinac Straits

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 3:57 a.m.

The Regents should stand up for the working men and women of the University and not ratify this union-leadership-job-preservation contract, forcing the union to make its case with each paycheck to the membership. Unions limit career development by discouraging the middle and top talent from seeking their highest and best wage, and unions always sacrifice total employment for ever higher wages for the those that survive the layoffs.

Tom Todd

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 3:28 a.m.

Class-war fare and Jealously at it's finest.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:06 a.m.

The city of Ann Arbor will continue to own the worst housing in the city no matter what course of action is taken. Through the years there have been millions spent rehabbing all the public housing sites. They are, based on dollars invested, the most costly per unit housing in Ann Arbor. Please do some investigative reporting here and report how much money has been spent on each site. The community will be flabbergasted when the amount of money invested over time is fully disclosed. I would also like to see numbers regarding the inhabitants. Public housing was never meant to be permanent housing. Do some research and you will find at least 4th and possibly 5 generations living in the public housing. This further demonstrates the ineffectiveness of support services that are supposedly available.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:23 a.m.

A2- I think you replied to the "wrong story". Your reply has nothing to do with UM and a Union reaching a contract agreement. I think you may have clicked on the wrong story and replied to it. BUT, good rebuttal anyway!:)


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 12:57 a.m.

At the end of this day, none of this will matter. The Appropriations Committee has already stated that Universities that attempt to circumvent the RTW will in all liklihood have their State revenue either reduced or denied in its entirety. WSU is under the microscope now and it is just a matter of time before UM gets a hard look. This is all very laughable. I would love to see UM lose all of their 2013 appropriation. The look on Mary Sue would be priceless.........:)

Ricardo Queso

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:58 p.m.

Then stop the charade and cut ties with the state. Better yet, change to "for profit" status.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:42 p.m.

State appropriations are a tiny fraction of university revenue. It is not to support the school. It is the state's subsidy of tuition for in state residents. The university can make it up easily by admitting more out of state students. It is the residents of the state who are harmed, not the university.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

The University of Michigan is among the finest universities in the world. It is a tremendous boon to the city, the county and to the state... and, aside from tourism, Michigan has little else going for it. Tell me how it would benefit the residents of this state should the University lose funding. A few extra bucks in our pockets every year?

Ricardo Queso

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 10:55 p.m.

Requiring a service fee? Good luck in court.


Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 10:54 p.m.

Don't worry; the students of the State and the rest of the Country are essentially unlimited resources which can be squeezed as necessary to support whatever level income the University desires.