Author: Tony Floriani

07 Nov What Our Labor is Worth

UIC United Faculty members caucus with our bargaining team during a brief break from contract negotiations.

UIC United Faculty members caucus with our bargaining team during a brief break from contract negotiations.


It’s Not Just About The Money
UIC United Faculty met once again this Monday with U of I’s negotiating team to continue advocating for a better faculty contract. Last session, we presented our full, comprehensive proposal, which included all of our economic proposals. While we did not receive counter proposals on those items, the Administration team did engage us on questions they had around issues ranging from PD funds to office space.

We can’t share specific language or numbers associated with contract proposals still being discussed, but we do want to remind our members of our core goals going into this negotiation. From the beginning, we’ve aimed to address issues around:

 

  • Stagnant salaries amid rising costs of living in the Chicago area.
  • Changing demands on faculty pursuant to rapid enrollment growth at the University.
  • Shared governance principles that must form the backbone of decision-making at the University.


To reach these goals, we have proposed an array of measures that would improve working conditions, and are now adding items to
address salary concerns across the board. “The last time we negotiated a contract, we were contending with budget austerity and hiring freezes,” explains Aaron Krall, Co-Lead Negotiator for UICUF, “but we’re in a different economic era now.”

While we’ve discussed many of our non-economic proposals already on this blog, our economic proposal cut to the heart of what our labor is worth. That means demanding raise pools that not only keep up with inflation, but make up for years of mediocre or non-growth. It means demanding a universal minimum raise built into the merit system, so no faculty member will be left behind. It means demanding money for professional development in meaningful amounts in relation to critical conferences in their fields. And it means demanding protections against ever-rising health care costs.

These are just a few of the things we intend to fight for, so that UIC faculty can continue to grow in and contribute to their academic communities, while prospering alongside the community they serve.

After Months of Resistance, U of I Recognizes Basic Nondiscrimination Protections
Meanwhile, we do have some good news to share. While we can’t say when our Administration counterparts intend to bring counter proposals on our economic items, or what those proposals will look like, we did see progress being made in other areas.

We are happy to say, we now have a tentative agreement on one of our earliest proposals, on nondiscrimination protections for our members. We brought this article up in the very first bargaining session expressly because we felt it would be common sense to expand protections to vulnerable communities, like non-citizens. Given the disappointing and dangerous turn in the national political climate around such issues, we believed it was a no-brainer to position UIC as a leader in protecting our community. U of I administration obviously didn’t see it that way on day one, and it has taken them 11 negotiating sessions to come around on what we consider to be the most basic protections we could ask for.

While this is certainly a victory for faculty and the UIC community, the staunch resistance Administration put up leads us to suspect that nothing is going to come easily out of this process. We are continuing to have useful discussions around raises and other economic issues, but we are also preparing for every eventuality, and intend to continue raising the pressure on Administration. We will keep pushing forward until we win the best contract we can, for our members, and for the UIC community as a whole.

Take Action: Union Rally at Rare Board of Trustees Visit to Chicago
Given the overall slow progress of negotiations so far, we feel compelled to raise our concerns in front of a larger audience. Next week, Thursday, November 15th, the U of I Board of Trustees will be at Student Center West for one of their rare Chicago meetings. We, alongside our fellow UIC unions, will hold a rally and press conference to show the Board that we will not stand by and be railroaded with a take-it-or-leave-it contract. We will also be joining our fellow workers in the Licensed Practical Nurses bargaining unit, who will be going on strike for their own contract the same day.

We highly encourage our members and allies to attend one or both of these events on the 15th. If you are able to join us, please RSVP to UICUFJeff@gmail.com.

*        *        *

Until we win a fair contract, we will be issuing periodic updates via email, facebook, twitter, and here on our website. We strongly encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. With your support, we can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

WeHeartUIC - Logo

In Solidarity,
UIC United Faculty Bargaining Team
Aaron Krall [Co-Chair], Senior Lecturer, English | Kevin Whyte [Co-Chair], Professor, Math, Statistics and Computer Science | Kheir Al-Kodmany, Professor, Urban Planning and Policy | Xochitl Bada, Associate Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies | Joaquin Chavez, Associate Professor, History | Jim Drown, Senior Lecturer, English | Chris Kanich, Assistant Professor, Computer Science | Paul Pieper, Associate Professor, Economics | Paul Preissner, Associate Professor, Architecture | Laurie Quinn, Clinical Professor, Biobehavioral Science | Jeffrey Sklansky, Associate Professor, History | Charitianne Williams, Senior Lecturer, English | Milos Zefran, Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

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01 Nov Administration’s Frightful Bargaining Position

While Halloween is over, frightening things still haunt us…

 

FACULTY BURIED BY WORKLOAD
How would you feel if your Dean told you next semester you had to teach an additional class without extra pay AND you were expected to keep up the same level of research and service? This happened last year in Applied Health Sciences. While faculty organized and used shared governance to push back, without enforceable contract language on how workloads are defined and updated, no one is protected from unilateral decisions to change faculty workloads.

FACULTY SALARIES FLATLINED
How would you feel if you were told full-time faculty at UIC are paid more than their peers? That is what was presented to the Board of Trustees in September. And just who are our peers? SUNY, Buffalo, U of Alabama at Birmingham, U of Cincinnati, U of Connecticut, U of Louisville, U of South Florida-Tampa, U of Utah, Virginia Commonwealth. However, compared to the other three Research 1 universities in Illinois, UIC tenure system salaries are well below Northwestern and U of Chicago. While comparable to UIUC, the cost of housing in Urbana-Champaign is 16% lower than Chicago.  A 2% salary increase – the amount offered by UI administration’s campus wage program for this academic year – barely covers inflation and clearly doesn’t help close the gap.

Source: AAUP 2018 Compensation Survey Excludes part-time faculty members, medical school faculty members, faculty who are primarily administrative officers, and graduate teaching assistants.

Source: AAUP 2018 Compensation Survey Excludes part-time faculty members, medical school faculty members, faculty who are primarily administrative officers, and graduate teaching assistants.

 

While we hope the Administration will prove us wrong, next week we expect them to offer a scarily insufficient raise proposal and the same status-quo zombie proposals we’ve already put to rest on issues like workload. This would be in keeping with what we’ve already seen in our own negotiations, as well as what our fellow UIC unions have experienced (7 months of non-movement for UIC GEO’s contract negotiations, unilateral rewrites by Admin on articles they’d already agreed to with INA).

UIC United Faculty and our fellow unions are not a gaggle of terrified teenagers in a Halloween horror movie. We will send ghastly contract proposals packing and fight for what our members and the UIC community deserve: Fair, Transparent and Accountable workplace policies, and raises that make good on years of salary stagnation. We hope you’ll stand with us in this effort!

*        *        *

Our next contract bargaining session is Monday, November 5th. Join us in respectfully observing the bargaining process from 2-5pm, at Student Center East, White Oak Room (on the 3rd floor). Even if you can’t be there, we are asking all our members to wear their UICUF T-shirts and pins that day to show solidarity and support for our bargaining team at the table. If you need a T-shirt, pin, or other UICUF materials, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

Until we win a fair contract, we will be issuing periodic updates via email, facebook, twitter, and here on our website. We strongly encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. With your support, we can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

References in hyperlinks:
http://www.trustees.uillinois.edu/trustees/agenda/September-27-2018/r-sep-UIC-Performance-Metrics.pdf
https://www.insidehighered.com/aaup-compensation-survey
https://sites.google.com/a/bu.edu/zhuzhe/publications/3-tiers-of-us-research-universities-ranked-by-carnegie-classification-system
https://smartasset.com/mortgage/what-is-the-true-cost-of-living-in-chicago

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25 Oct Bargaining Update: Administration Intransigence Won’t Hold Us Back

This Tuesday, faculty members attended our bargaining session en mass to observe negotiations with U of I Administration. We encourage our members to join us in promoting transparency and participation in this process by attending future bargaining sessions!

This Tuesday, faculty members attended our bargaining session en mass to observe negotiations with U of I Administration. We encourage our members to join us in promoting transparency and participation in this process by attending future bargaining sessions!


Simply No

From the beginning, Administration negotiators have been solely interested in seeing our economic proposals, regarding raises, development funds, etc. Our strategy of bringing forward noneconomic items first has forced them to discuss issues that our faculty members resoundingly endorsed, but, it seems, hasn’t made them take those concerns seriously.

Instead, these discussions have revealed that the Administration has no intention of addressing any substantive issues. Despite it costing them little or nothing to, for example, commit to greater transparency in workload and discipline policies, Administration has consistently chosen to stonewall. They even eventually dropped the pretense of wanting to weigh these proposals on fundamental workplace rights against the cost of our salaries. The message is clear: they simply won’t give faculty anything they don’t have to, no matter how reasonable or justified.

Escalating Pressure
On Tuesday, we put Administration’s intransigence to the test one more time, now with an audience. We were disappointed to find that, even with a gallery of faculty from around the university watching, they couldn’t muster so much as a token gesture toward building a better contract. Unfortunately, our bargaining team is already all too familiar with this dismissive attitude toward faculty priorities.

Given the lackluster response at the bargaining table, and a questionable negotiating history in general, we increasingly suspect that there will be no serious negotiation without serious action on our part. Remember how UIUC Grads were forced to strike this year over something as fundamental as protecting fee waivers? Or how we ourselves were forced to strike in 2014 to get our first contract?

The Administration thus far is categorically unwilling to discuss proposals that cost them nothing. Even the UIC Provost has signaled skepticism over basic protections, like an accountable process to review academic freedom violations. They can’t even agree to extend non-discrimination rights to non-citizens. How can we expect any better behavior when real money is on the table?

Full Steam Ahead
At this point, in the name of moving forward, we have decided to proceed with our comprehensive proposal, including all economic articles. We do this not because we feel it will improve negotiating conditions, but because it is a necessary step as we plan to bring further pressure to bear.

The economic proposals we’ve introduced include, but are not limited to:

  • Raises to help us catch up and keep up after years of salary stagnation
  • Accessible PD funds that go the distance when applying to academic conferences
  • Expanded commitments to maintain facilities, policies, and staffing befitting of an R1 university

 
We will, of course, continue to push for robust improvements to workplace rights. As we’ve said before, UIC faculty deserve improvements to working conditions AND raises that make good on years of weak salary growth. We will not support an agreement that trades one for the other, and while we are a long way off from a potential work stoppage, UICUF has not ruled out any action which may be necessary to achieve these meaningful improvements to our contract.

Our next bargaining session is Monday, 11/5, 2-5pm (location TBD). Send a strong message to the Administration by wearing your union colors in solidarity, and attending the session if you are able. We anticipate that economic proposals will be under discussion at this meeting. Email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com to RSVP!

* * *

Until we win a fair contract, we will continue issuing periodic updates via email, facebook, twitter, and here on our website. We strongly encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. With your support, we can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

WeHeartUIC - Logo

In Solidarity,

UIC United Faculty Bargaining Team
Aaron Krall [Co-Chair], Senior Lecturer, English | Kevin Whyte [Co-Chair], Professor, Math, Statistics and Computer Science | Kheir Al-Kodmany, Professor, Urban Planning and Policy | Xochitl Bada, Associate Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies | Joaquin Chavez, Associate Professor, History | Jim Drown, Senior Lecturer, English | Chris Kanich, Assistant Professor, Computer Science | Paul Pieper, Associate Professor, Economics | Paul Preissner, Associate Professor, Architecture | Laurie Quinn, Clinical Professor, Biobehavioral Science | Jeffrey Sklansky, Associate Professor, History | Charitianne Williams, Senior Lecturer, English | Milos Zefran, Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

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18 Oct Step Up

UICUF Banner

If you’re a faculty member at UIC, your union needs you! We are currently engaged in increasingly tough negotiations over our next contract, and the strength and involvement of our membership will be a decisive factor in achieving success in those negotiations.

To remind folks what’s at stake, U of I Administration has yet to agree to anything not already in our previous contract, despite 4 months of negotiation, 9 rounds of meetings, and the presentation of 16 proposals that would cost them little or nothing to implement. We have no reason to believe they’ll give proposals for long-awaited pay raises a more favorable reception.

Since the Administration has clearly signaled that they have no intention of engaging in constructive discussion, it seems that further action will be necessary to reach an agreement that addresses faculty concerns. Here are a few ways you can get involved in the coming weeks and months, to help us push for a contract that improves working and learning conditions at UIC AND keeps faculty financially secure in the face of rising inflation and local costs-of-living.

 

JOIN THE UNION
It’s an obvious one, but if you’re not a union member, joining the union is the first step toward helping us build power, and leverage toward a better contract. Every new member is a reminder to the Administration that our bargaining team represents a unified faculty. 2/3rds of all eligible faculty are already members, and joining is easy. Visit our membership page now to complete an application!

STAY INFORMED
Knowledge is power, and we try to keep our members as informed as possible about union activities. In addition to our regular updates here on the website, members receive weekly email updates, and you can get even more timely info about union activities by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

SHOW YOUR COLORS
Every bargaining day is an opportunity to show your solidarity by wearing your union colors. Let your colleagues, and U of I Administration, know that you support your bargaining team with a strong showing of your union blues. Members can request free t-shirts and pins if you don’t already have them, by emailing us at UICUnitedfaculty@gmail.com.

PRIORITIZE
We periodically issue surveys to learn more about our members’ priorities. A bargaining priority survey is live RIGHT NOW, and if you’re a member, you should take 3 minutes to complete it. If you did not receive a link to the survey via email, contact us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com for a new one.

SHOW UP
Attending events and actions is particularly important as a way of showing Administration that we can’t be railroaded in negotiations, or taken for granted. We currently have 3 major events on the calendar, and certainly more to come. RSVP to UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com if you can attend:

Tuesday, 10/23, 2-5pm: Bargaining session #10 @Student Center East, Rm 613
Monday, 11/5, 2-5pm: Bargaining Session #11 @TBD
Thursday, 11/15, 9-11am: Board of Trustees Meeting @Student Center West

VOLUNTEER
Running a union that’s responsive to members and effective in engaging university administration takes a lot of work, but many hands makes that work much easier! Serving on a committee, acting as a communicator for your department, or running for an elected position are all great ways to make our union more effective. If you want to learn more about volunteer opportunities, let us know at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

***

As contract negotiations unfold, we want to personally encourage you to be an active participant in our union, and the bargaining process. Everyone in our bargaining unit has a stake in these negotiations, and our strong membership is our greatest leverage at that table.

WeHeartUIC - Logo

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11 Oct Bargaining Update: A Turning Point

321 Action

Bargaining By The Numbers

Our Bargaining Team began preparing almost a year ago, and has been meeting with U of I Administration for about 4 months. We’ve had our share of ups and downs, but we have now reached a critical point in our negotiations. To get a sense of how far we’ve come, and how far we have to go, here’s a look at our contract negotiations by the numbers:

Meetings with Administration: 9
Hours at the Bargaining Table: 27
Articles with Tentative Agreement: 8 (the easy ones)
Active Proposals: 8 (the power issues)
What’s left: 5 (the money issues)

Degrees of Difficulty

Easy: These articles are “uncontroversial” (e.g., minor language tweaks, little/no substantive changes).

Power: These articles deal with making sure our working conditions are fair, transparent, and responsive to core academic principles, like shared governance and academic freedom.

Money: These articles deal directly with economics – salaries, development funds, computers, etc – to make sure our faculty get paid what they deserve and keep up with our region’s rising cost of living. It’s common and strategic to introduce these last, after non-economic gains are made.

Weighing the Odds

We’ve held economic articles back because we first wanted to get some agreement on non-economic matters – issues our members value and that cost the Administration very little or nothing at all.  

Making good on years of stagnant salaries is a critical issue, but we don’t agree with the Administration’s position that granting basic workplace rights must be weighed against those raises.

Given the fact that they have said NO already to most of our non-economic proposals, we do not feel confident the Administration will say YES to raising our salaries.

A Turning Point

Which brings us to the proposals currently on the table. Our members resoundingly indicated that they wanted our new contract to address the following issues:

Control over Workload Expectations
Expansion of Non-Discrimination Protections
Protection for Academic Freedom
Fair and Transparent Discipline Processes
Responsible Use of Student Evaluation Scores
Improved Campus Safety for Late Courses

So far, the response from Administration has been minimal. Their few substantive counter proposals indicate a step backwards for faculty rights, and no real spirit of legitimate give-and-take.

At our last session, the Administration told us they really have no interest in accepting anything that goes beyond our current contract. In other words, they don’t believe they need to acknowledge the concerns that faculty clearly have about current working conditions. They certainly don’t want to give faculty the power to insist on improvements to those conditions through an enforceable contract.

Rank and File

It’s now clear that if we want to be treated fairly at the table, we must prepare to take action. Our greatest leverage is our membership, and it is the time to remind the Administration that we don’t have to simply agree to take-it-or-leave-it terms.

We are calling on all of our members to do two things:

Join us at our next bargaining session, Tuesday, 10/23, 2-5pm at Student Center East, Room 613. Help us keep the Administration Team honest, by attending and respectfully observing the process with your union T-shirt or pin on. To get union gear and/or RSVP to the session, email us at uicunitedfaculty@gmail.com.

Tell us what matters to you. Watch for a short survey to review and prioritize the issues we are trying to address. This 5 minute survey will give our bargaining team valuable input on how to proceed.

Remember, solidarity matters, and it starts with you!

*        *        *

Until we win a fair contract, we will continue issuing periodic updates via email, facebook, twitter, and here on our website. We strongly encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. With your support, we can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

WeHeartUIC - Logo

In Solidarity,

UIC United Faculty Bargaining Team

Aaron Krall [Co-Chair], Senior Lecturer, English | Kevin Whyte [Co-Chair], Professor, Math, Statistics and Computer Science | Kheir Al-Kodmany, Professor, Urban Planning and Policy | Xochitl Bada, Associate Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies | Joaquin Chavez, Associate Professor, History | Jim Drown, Senior Lecturer, English | Chris Kanich, Assistant Professor, Computer Science | Paul Pieper, Associate Professor, Economics | Paul Preissner, Associate Professor, Architecture | Laurie Quinn, Clinical Professor, Biobehavioral Science | Jeffrey Sklansky, Associate Professor, History | Charitianne Williams, Senior Lecturer, English | Milos Zefran, Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

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04 Oct Get Informed, Get Involved

Frozen Salaries 2018

Setting the Record Straight on Campus Wage

If you’re a faculty member at UIC, you may have heard that the reason all faculty in our bargaining unit (union member or not) did not see a merit raise in their Notice of Appointment is because the union is negotiating our next contract.

I want to assure you that is not actually the case. This was the U of I administration’s choice, not UICUF’s. Labor law clearly allows for agreements on pay increases during contract negotiations, and the union would have been happy to consider such an interim agreement had one been presented.

I also want to assure you that UICUF will seek salary pools for merit as well as compression and equity in our new contract, and make sure raises are retroactive back to 8-16-18. However, we will not support any proposals that leave you with less earning potential than you had last year. To this end, we must point out that the 2% campus wage pool offered this year is downright insufficient when inflation is expected to be closer to 3%.

 

The Power of Participation

To ensure that U of I administration does the right thing, we are going to need to work together. Our Member Meeting Wednesday, October 10th, 3:30-5pm at Hull House, is a great opportunity to learn more about the negotiations, give input, and get involved. However, you must be a member to attend!

If you are not yet a member of the union, you can join by downloading an application, or you can complete one when you arrive at the Member Meeting. Members enjoy many benefits and privileges, including regular updates on the bargaining process as it unfolds and voting on the final contract.  

If you are already a member, the easiest way to support the union is to wear your UIC United Faculty T-shirts and pins on bargaining days, and come to observe the bargaining sessions as your schedule allows (next one is Tuesday, 10/9, 12-3pm @SCE, White Oak Room). Please let our organizer, Jeff Edwards, know about your plans to attend by emailing him at UICUFJeff@gmail.com. You can get union gear at the Member Meeting or by sending us a request at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com. You are the union!

As contract negotiations unfold, I want to personally encourage you to be an active participant in our union, and the bargaining process. Everyone in our bargaining unit has a stake in these negotiations, and our strong membership is our greatest leverage at that table.

We look forward to seeing you at bargaining, and at the Member Meeting next Wednesday!

In Solidarity,
Janet Smith
President, UIC United Faculty

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Fall Events

Tuesday, 10/9: Bargaining session #9. Wear your t-shirts and buttons on campus!

Wednesday, 10/10: Member Meeting, 3:30-5pm Hull House Dining Hall. Contract presentation by the Bargaining Team.

Tuesday, 10/23: Bargaining session #10. Wear your t-shirts and buttons on campus!

Wednesday, 11/7: Rep Assembly meeting 11-12:30pm, UH 2028. All members invited.

Thursday, 11/15: Board of Trustees meeting in Chicago.

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28 Sep Bargaining Update: Solidarity Amid Halting Progress

At The Table This Week

Yesterday, UICUF’s Bargaining Team came to the table with the understanding that we’d laid the groundwork for more substantial discussion on non-economic issues. As a reminder, we have not brought forward any overtly economic proposals, in order to keep the focus on quality of life issues and shared values.

Unfortunately, the Labor Relations Bargaining Lead has chosen to double down on their prior insistence that they can’t discuss much without our economic proposals. The Administration Team had previously asked for a specific article, on Appointment and Promotion, as a path to move forward. As a show of good faith, our team agreed to present that article, but the Administration Team has returned with little other than status quo rejections of our proposals since then, and another demand for our economic proposals before they will proceed.  

We fundamentally disagree that it is necessary to weigh, for example, non-discrimination or transparent discipline processes, against pay raises before decisions can be made. Our members deserve both improved working conditions AND a meaningful raise in the next contract, and we don’t intend to accept false equivalencies that would seek to pit one against the other.

That being said, we are having positive discussion around some issues, and may be nearing agreement on one additional article. There are certainly still opportunities to move forward with what is already on the table, should the Administration Team choose to do so.

Solidarity Beyond the Bargaining Table

Meanwhile, we want to remind everyone that the strength of our union is defined not just by the skill of our negotiating team, but by the commitment of our membership. This week, we’ve initiated a number of activities to strengthen our union, and encourage you to remember the importance of day-to-day solidarity.

This Tuesday, we had our first Representative training of the semester, giving our elected Reps the tools they need to serve as a resource for members in their departments. Training included modules on communications, department relations, and perhaps most critically, resolving member issues, up to and including formal grievances. Another training will be offered next Tuesday, 10-2pm, and we invite all members to learn how the union works, even if you are not a current Representative.

Bargaining Team members and other volunteers also set up a table in University Hall on Wednesday. We handed out dozens of T-shirts and pins to our members, and encourage everyone to wear your union gear on bargaining days to support our efforts at the negotiating table. Solidarity matters, and it starts with you!

* * *


Our next contract bargaining session is October 9th.
We are asking all our members to wear their UICUF T-shirts and pins that day to show solidarity and support for our bargaining team at the table. If you are a member and need a T-shirt, pin, or other UICUF materials, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

Until we win a fair contract, we will be issuing periodic updates via email, facebook, twitter, and here on our website. We strongly encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. With your support, we can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

WeHeartUIC - Logo

In Solidarity,

UIC United Faculty Bargaining Team

Aaron Krall [Co-Chair], Senior Lecturer, English | Kevin Whyte [Co-Chair], Professor, Math, Statistics and Computer Science | Kheir Al-Kodmany, Professor, Urban Planning and Policy | Xochitl Bada, Associate Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies | Joaquin Chavez, Associate Professor, History | Jim Drown, Senior Lecturer, English | Chris Kanich, Assistant Professor, Computer Science | Paul Pieper, Associate Professor, Economics | Paul Preissner, Associate Professor, Architecture | Laurie Quinn, Clinical Professor, Biobehavioral Science | Jeffrey Sklansky, Associate Professor, History | Charitianne Williams, Senior Lecturer, English | Milos Zefran, Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

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20 Sep Elections Edition: Take Action, Get Registered, Vote!

Protest Austerity 2016small

When Educators Act, Communities Win

For a long time now, public education, and the workers who serve the public as teachers, faculty, counselors, etc. have been under political siege. We have been subject to stalled or slashed budgets, cuts to programs, personnel, and basic classroom resources, and have steadily been in the crosshairs of privatization advocates who want to run schools as (profitable) businesses. Yet it has become an all too mainstream narrative that it’s the educators serving our students who are selfish, lazy, and getting rich by draining the public coffers.

In many states, however, where the worst effects of this corrosive narrative have been felt, educators are fighting back, not just in their schools and universities, but at the ballot box, and in the halls of power. As UICUF union member Elizabeth Todd-Breland wrote in the Washington Post recently, “educators are protesting not just for better pay, but also for increased funding for public education to benefit students and communities.”

The recent wave of teacher uprisings have won substantial gains for public education as a whole, using many time-honored tools from the community organizing playbook, including public advocacy, work stoppages, and electoral activism. We’ve also seen an unprecedented wave of educators signing up as political candidates across the country. Educators and communities are fed up, and increasingly fighting to shift the political momentum toward supporting public education instead of degrading and defunding it. We need you to join us in that fight!

 

We Need 90%

Given the significant impact that politics can have on public education, we want to remind everyone that national elections are right around the corner, and voter registration deadlines are coming even sooner.

Union member, Professor of Political Science, and former public servant, Dick Simpson, strongly urges his colleagues to participate in the election process. “The 2018 election is too important to sit out. We need 90% registration and 90% of us UICUF voting. To make it easy, your can register to vote electronically in Illinois and we have an early voting site on campus for three days before Election Day November 6.”

There are also a number of opportunities to register in person on campus. Next week, the Civic Engagement Committee of  UIC will be hosting National Voter Registration Day events in the quad. You can show up any time from 11-1pm, Tuesday, Sept. 25th. Come make sure you’re registered and ready to vote, in what promises to be a pivotal election for higher education issues in the state of Illinois, and the nation. If you haven’t gotten around to registering, or updating your registration with your current address, now is the time!   

 

Your Committee On Political Education

We also want to remind all of our members that UIC United Faculty has started an independent political fund to support candidates that support public higher education. Union dues never go toward funding political campaigns, but we clearly have a critical interest in supporting candidates who value public education.

Even small contributions help, and faculty members working to educate the public on political issues goes a long way toward promoting a vision of higher education of which we can all be proud. If you want to become a contributor to our newly formed Committee On Political Education (COPE) fund, or want to get involved with the committee’s work, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

* * *

Our next contract bargaining session is September 27th. We are asking all our members to wear their UICUF T-shirts and pins that day to show solidarity and support for our bargaining team at the table. If you are a member and need a T-shirt, pin, or other UICUF materials, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

 

Until we win a fair contract, we will be issuing periodic updates via email, facebook, twitter, and here on our website. We strongly encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. With your support, we can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

WeHeartUIC - Logo

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13 Sep Not For Sale

not-for-sale

Labor Relations: By the Book
UICUF and Administration teams met again September 12th to continue negotiating our next contract. Right away, we learned that this session was going to largely be an exercise in rejection. The Labor Relations Lead continues to follow the typical management playbook: offer nothing and hope the union will negotiate against itself, trading money for values.

We won’t.


But We Fixed It
The administration team responded substantively to three proposals currently on the table. Hours of Work (i.e., teaching loads), for which we proposed a system of shared governance-led accountability, was returned with agreement only that faculty should be notified when teaching loads change. We’ve already seen this scenario play out, however, with administrators arbitrarily changing workload policies, sparking crises for their departments. Administration claims that these scenarios don’t need to be in the contract because, when the union called them out, they made minor concessions. Just because you say you’re sorry, doesn’t mean it won’t happen again.


Just Leave That To Us
Next up, Administration all but rejected an expansion of grievance procedures that would have made violations of the U of I statutes grievable. Our contract frequently references the Statutes, and the Administration team frequently says they would prefer to simply rely on the Statutes in place of our contract. They say that there is no need for contractual protections because they rarely see problems related to enforcement of the Statutes. UICUF has found that in reality, the Administration cherrypicks which statutes to enforce, and that the mechanisms of enforcement are opaque and in some case deeply flawed. A grievance procedure to contractually enforce the statutes seems at this point to be the only way to keep them accountable to their own rules. 


We’re Already Aware of That
Lastly, the Administration team outright rejected our request for a side letter outlining a process for reviewing campus safety. We asked for this in relation to expanded night classes in the new scheduling grid. They did, however, point to actions they’ve been taking while negotiations have been ongoing, like adding lighting and security personnel.

In an email sent on Sept. 6th, Vice Chancellor Coronado outlined improvements to campus safety. UICUF’s bargaining survey this winter indicated that 1 in 7 faculty feel unsafe on campus, specifically at night, but given the improvements being made, UICUF and the Administration want to hear from you: do you feel safer on campus at night? Email UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com, or go to Provost Poser’s open office hours, Tuesday, September 18 from 2:00-3:00 p.m., 2550 UH if you have lingering concerns.


UIC United Faculty: Values Are Not For Sale
In this session, we offered our last non-economic article, on Reappointment, Promotion and Tenure. Though this article is tightly intertwined with economic proposals regarding salaries, we offered it, at Administration’s specific request, as a show of good faith. They claim this is a minimum needed for them to consider what is already on the table, and we expect serious consideration of those articles moving forward.

To this point, we have presented only non-economic articles for discussion. We’ve chosen this path to keep an emphasis on articles that express our values, and impact our members’ quality of life. Administration has steadily quarreled with this approach, claiming they can’t make any significant decisions without seeing the money.

We disagree. We’ve held back money proposals precisely because we don’t believe our values are related to our salaries. We do not believe pay increases, which have fallen flat against inflation for years, should be held hostage, leveraged to force us away from positions on equity, transparency, and accountability.

When it all boils down, a union contract is NOT just a litany of economic exchanges. It represents our values, and our values are not for sale. 

* * *

Our next contract bargaining session has not yet been scheduled, but in the interim, we will continue to post weekly articles on topics of critical interest to our membership.

Until we win a fair contract, we will be issuing periodic updates via email, facebook, twitter, and here on our website. We strongly encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. With your support, we can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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In Solidarity,

UIC United Faculty Bargaining Team

Aaron Krall [Co-Chair], Senior Lecturer, English | Kevin Whyte [Co-Chair], Professor, Math, Statistics and Computer Science | Kheir Al-Kodmany, Professor, Urban Planning and Policy | Xochitl Bada, Associate Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies | Joaquin Chavez, Associate Professor, History | Jim Drown, Senior Lecturer, English | Chris Kanich, Assistant Professor, Computer Science | Paul Pieper, Associate Professor, Economics | Paul Preissner, Associate Professor, Architecture | Laurie Quinn, Clinical Professor, Biobehavioral Science | Jeffrey Sklansky, Associate Professor, History | Charitianne Williams, Senior Lecturer, English | Milos Zefran, Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

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06 Sep UICUF Endorses National Prison Strike

prison-strike-cervantes-square

Jailhouse Lawyers Speak
Millions for Prisoners Human Rights
Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee of the IWW (IWOC)
and all incarcerated people

Re: In solidarity with the National Prison Strike

In recognition of our shared interests in fair compensation for our labor and access to education, among other concerns, the faculty union of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), UIC United Faculty Local 6456, offers this letter of solidarity to all incarcerated peoples participating in the 2018 National Prison Strike and the supporting organizations of Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, Millions for Prisoners Human Rights, IWOC, and others.

UIC United Faculty is committed to:

  • Realizing the mission of the University of Illinois at Chicago as a public research university in a democratic society;
  • Making sure that every member of the faculty has an individual voice and that the faculty as a whole has a collective voice in determining our future;
  • Making the promise of shared governance a reality by backing it with the power of collective bargaining;
  • Keeping the principles of academic freedom, free speech and free inquiry central both to our union and our university.

 

In alignment with our mission and that of our land grant university, UIC United Faculty believes that access to public education is central to social justice, and we stand in support with those striking for their right to education. Further, we fully support the demands of the strikers and the work of the organizing bodies of the Prison Strike, and stand in solidarity with incarcerated people everywhere as they seek to gain fair wages for their labor. We reject any policies which deny people their basic human rights, and believe everyone has the right to demand equitable treatment.

Standing firmly on the side of justice, UIC United Faculty is proud to endorse the National Prison Strike, and pledge our support.

In solidarity,

UIC United Faculty Local 6456

 

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