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.
Climate & Discrimination
On top of the issues shared by all staff, employees of color, LGBTQIA+ staff, those with disabilities, and people with other marginalized identities can face both structural and interpersonal discrimination at work. Often, we witness or experience this mistreatment happening – but alone as individuals and as at-will employees, we make ourselves vulnerable when we stand up for ourselves or one another. With a union contract, we’ll have Just Cause provisions to protect us from unfair discipline. We’ll build the networks of support for more powerful interventions when any of us face harassment, discrimination, or bullying – whether from managers, faculty, students, coworkers, or the public. And we’ll fight in bargaining to fix U-M policies that disadvantage marginalized staff, like those that currently make it very difficult to get disability accommodations or adequate parental leave.
USU will fight 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. Already, USU has helped pressure U-M to join a new pilot state initiative called the Tri-Share Program, a subsidy program that would enable lower and middle income staff (including children’s center teachers) to pay an affordable tuition rate. We’ll continue to push for expansions and improvements to that support.
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 will fight to protect staff against job creep through clear guidelines negotiated with U-M and, most importantly, through rigorous enforcement of these guidelines.