We are organizing to improve the lives of staff across the University of Michigan. These are just a few of the issues we are working on.
U-M wages should be competitive with the private sector, and should be internally logical and fair. Older U-M staff may remember a time when they earned an annual raise well above the rate of inflation. Now many of us have gone years with our salaries barely keeping up with the cost of living. Meanwhile, the university’s savings account, the endowment, has grown to $17 billion. It grew $4.7 billion in 2021 alone! We need an organization with bargaining power to fight for our income and our benefits.
Flexible and Remote Work
U-M staff deserve to be trusted to do our jobs with dedication and care, regardless of whether and when we are physically in the office. We do not deserve arbitrary, one-size-fits-all policies. USU strives to make U-M a place where staff work/life balance is centered in DEI discussions, and where flexible/remote work policies reflect the demonstrated needs of each unit (including the need for some in-person staff teambuilding). We appreciate and celebrate that U-M is a residential education program, and we are committed to that vision. We seek policies that make sense and meet the needs of units, their staff, and those they serve.
Many U-M staff feel “stuck” in jobs that offer no realistic path for advancement and no reward for experience. Often, candidates from outside of U-M are selected for mid-level and senior positions over seasoned staff who are ready for the next step. We need greater opportunities for professional development, clearer advancement opportunities for staff who seek promotions, and pay increases that recognize the expertise of long-serving staff at all ranks.
The positive or negative work experience of non-supervisory staff members is based largely on the quality of supervision that they receive and the overall climate within their work environment. While many staff have wonderful supervisors, others are managed by supervisors who are not prepared, lack management skills and, sometimes, lack empathy. Some staff have even experienced serious workplace violations– including racism, ageism, gender-based discrimination, and microaggressions. Unionization will not offer a magic bullet solution to such problems. However, seasoned union representatives would offer a robust layer of additional support and dedicated advocacy for staff in toxic climate situations. As described above, USU would also advocate for ongoing training opportunities for supervisors who are trying their best but have not yet developed certain managerial skillsets.
USU would push to expand the extremely limited space in the U-M childcare centers– particularly the infant rooms– and to increase the salaries of the centers’ dedicated, loving, and creative teachers. With support from its members, USU would also help pressure U-M to join a new pilot state initiative called the Tri-Share Program, a generous subsidy program that would enable lower and middle income staff (including children’s center teachers) to pay an affordable tuition rate.
Have major new responsibilities been added to your job description without commensurate compensation? After a colleague retired or left, was their job posted with vastly broader duties at a similar or lower salary level? Have you been asked to cover a colleague’s duties over an extended period (for example, over a medical leave) without earning commensurate additional pay? Do you fear retaliation if you speak up about these issues? USU would fight to protect staff against job creep through clear guidelines negotiated with U-M and, most importantly, through rigorous enforcement of these guidelines.