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February 2020 –

In this month’s edition, you’ll find articles on:

  • Winter semester organizing fellows hit the streets
  • FNTFO reaches agreement with Ferris State
  • Kalamazoo locals welcome (back) a new lead organizer
  • LEO tackles summer pay issue at UM-Dearborn
  • AFO organizes at Henry Ford College
  • #LecturersMatter at Wayne State

Member Organizing Institute: Winter 2020

Taylor Monday, organizing coordinator

The AFT Michigan Member Organizing Institute is growing each semester. At the February Union-Building Institute, 6 locals sent at least one member to the all day 1:1 conversations workshop where participants learn how to have an organizing conversation and overcome common objections to signing up new members. In addition to the training session, MOI participants make a commitment to have 50 hours of organizing conversations over the next 8 weeks. Members participating in MOI Winter 2020 are:

  • Lily and Evan from EMUFT (Eastern Michigan University)
  • Brandon from GEU (Michigan State University)
  • Steve from KVCCFT (Kalamazoo Valley Community College)
  • Carlos and Rob from PIO (Western Michigan University)
  • Alba, Eman, Irene and Merrilyn from TAU (Western Michigan University)
  • Deborah, Bill and Steve from UPTF (Wayne State University)

Combined, these 13 member organizers from 6 locals will have a total of 650 hours of organizing conversations to grow their membership and build relationships with their co-workers!


FNTFO Reaches Agreement on New Contract with Ferris State

Sonya Alvarado, Field Representative

FNTFO ratified a contract this past month that includes an 11% raise over 4 years, guaranteed professional development funds, and a settlement of a contested issue about how contact hours vs credit hours will be paid. The union was also able to move some members from Lecturer 1 to Lecturer 2, giving this group more job security. This is the first time Ferris has settled a contract with the union before the expiration of the contract.

AFT Kalamazoo Locals Welcome (Back) a New Lead Organizer

Sonya Alvarado, Field Representative
Ian Anderson

Born and raised in Oregon, Ian Anderson moved to Kalamazoo to pursue his MA in history at WMU. As a graduate student at Western Ian worked as a Teaching Assistant and became involved with the Teaching Assistants Union (AFT 1729), getting the chance to serve as president in his last year. This experience altered his trajectory, stoking an interest in working with organized labor rather than following his initial plans of working in history. After Ian’s program ended, he worked first as a field organizer for the One Campaign for Michigan in 2018, and then as an Internal Organizer/Union Rep for SEIU Healthcare Michigan. Ian is incredibly excited to be back with AFT and working with these Kalamazoo-area higher ed locals and we are excited to have him!

Under Pressure from LEO, UM Administration Cancels Dearborn Summer Pay Cut Proposal

Jon Curtiss, Higher Ed Organizer

In early February, the UM administration sent LEO a proposal to reduce summer pay, effective May 2020, for tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty in Dearborn. Management’s proposal would have cut summer pay by instituting a universal flat fee per credit hour for most instructors instead of the current system, in which faculty are paid a percentage of their full-time rate. Annual raises and performance-based raises would no longer have been reflected in summer salaries. Furthermore, the magnitude of the pay cuts was not uniform across the four colleges, the most draconian occurring in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters. For the vast majority of faculty who teach in the summer, this proposal would have meant a loss in annual income totaling hundreds, even thousands, of dollars, with a corresponding drop in retirement contributions. Highly-paid administrators would have seen no reduction in pay.

Despite the short notice and initial attempts by the administration to keep the magnitude of the cuts confidential, LEO successfully spread the word about the impending cuts and reached out to tenure-track faculty. Two weeks later, Dearborn Provost Sue Alcock reversed course and put the cuts on hold for at least one year. The Provost announced her decision in a message sent to campus half an hour before the start of the Town Hall that LEO had organized for non-tenure-track and tenure-track faculty to discuss the administration’s pay proposal.

Even after the cuts were put on hold, lecturers and tenure-track faculty met to strategize on how to respond to inevitable future attempts to slash faculty salaries and benefits. The group agreed to send a delegation of tenure-track faculty, lecturer faculty, and students to meet the Provost to raise their concerns.

AFO Seizes an Opportunity to Organize

Johnny Mickles, Field Representative

Administrators of one Henry Ford College department unilaterally instituted a new sign-in procedure for adjuncts. AFO members immediately alerted the union of this change in working conditions and lack of respect the department heads are showing adjuncts, many of whom work several jobs to make ends meet. AFO demanded to meet with administrators to voice concerns regarding this change to work rules.

The local knew members would have to do more, so after several meetings with the department adjuncts, they decided to organize around this issue. “The Union will continue to work with HFC Administration on this issue, but AFO will continue to demand respect for our adjuncts in all areas,” says AFO President Lynn Boza. The excitement around this issue has created an opportunity to organize more members to become active in the Union and has forced HFC administrators to include adjuncts in the development of a new procedure that both parties can agree to.

 Remind Wayne State that #LecturersMatter

Dave Dobbie, Assistant to the President

Wayne State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences recently issued mass notices of non-renewal to all Lecturers and Senior Lecturers up for renewal appointments this year. This is a reversal of years of prior practice in which notices of non-renewal were only issued in instances in which the intention was to not renew the targeted faculty. In the current situation, the administration claims most Lecturers will be brought back, but in the meantime, all Lecturers up for renewal are effectively fired. Unfortunately, a similar crisis has been created by the CMU College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences, where the Dean is forcing departments to cut 10% of their budgets, largely on the backs of fixed-term faculty. If anything similar is happening at a school where you work, please let us know.
Get more info and sign the community letter of support for WSU Lecturers at

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