The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Two Tier Teachers Rally at the University of Michigan

Apr 8, 2024

Some of the 1800 part-time teachers at the University of Michigan, called “lecturers,” rallied on its Ann Arbor campus on Friday, April 5. They’re threatening to strike after six months of contract negotiations with the university over wages.

The university is proposing a five percent salary increase to Ann Arbor lecturers but offering less than half of that—a 2.25% salary increase—to lecturers at the Dearborn and Flint campuses. Right now, the pay is equal.

But even that “equal” pay has not been enough for all part-time teachers who are only paid for time in the classroom and not for all the other work they do, like seeing students during office hours and test and lecture preparation. All universities and colleges make money off of that part-time labor, which in the U.S. amounts to 51% of all faculty. And while U of M has a much lower ratio of part-time teaching staff, at 16%, it still holds that this university saves money by hiring teachers part-time.

The University says that Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Flint campuses have separate and independent funding sources and budgets and that Dearborn’s and Flint’s budgets cannot sustain the same wage increases. In other words, one university, but three separate and unequal campuses: one in Ann Arbor, which is the extremely wealthy and heavily endowed campus, with students from wealthier class backgrounds, and the other two, more heavily weighted with working-class student populations.

One lecturer at Friday’s rally had the obvious solution: the money can be moved from Ann Arbor to Dearborn and Flint!

He’s right. The money is there. But in this class society, how schools are funded and how teachers are paid is organized according to class.