Author: Tony Floriani

03 Oct Meeting Recap – Our Fight is Far From Over

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  • UIC United Faculty held our Fall Membership Meeting Yesterday
  • One thing seems abundantly clear: There’s plenty of work ahead to make UIC an even better place to work and learn
  • UICUF Senate Caucus will tackle issues covered by statute that weren’t addressed in the contract
  • UICUF’s new Advocacy Committee will be working to change fundamentals in system governance, like how budgets are formulated
  • UICUF COPE will continue working on legislative issues affecting faculty

 

Yesterday, UICUF held it’s Fall Membership Meeting at Hull House, and as our leadership and committee chairs sounded off, one thing seemed abundantly clear: we may have won some major improvements in our contract negotiations this past Spring, but there’s still much more to do as we seek to continue improving working and learning conditions at UIC.

To recap, our contract victory this past May ensured a variety of improvements, from increased minimum salaries and guaranteed raise pools, to appointment and due process protections for NTT faculty, and workload protection for our entire bargaining unit. However, there were plenty of things we couldn’t achieve in those negotiations, and a number of issues we won in our contract that will still take work to successfully implement.

In Your Departments
Many of our new contract victories, like workload protections, rely on shared governance to implement. Our Shared Governance committee will be spearheading the effort to inform and encourage our members to take advantage of those victories by using their powers of shared governance to the maximum potential.

In the Senate
As we reported in a previous weekly update, we have a newly formed Senate Caucus that will be discuss many of the issues our members are experiencing that have their roots in university statutes. The Senate is by most measures the strongest expression of shared governance at the university, with the purview to recommend changes to the statutes. The new Caucus was formed simply to keep our many members in the Senate informed about issues affecting faculty, and the current list is a long one. Among the top items on the agenda are granting longer term contracts (currently capped at 3 years for NTT), strengthening academic freedom protections, and addressing problematic changes to mandatory RNUA documentation.

At the Board Meetings
Our newly formed advocacy committee (look out for a profile of them in future updates), will be looking into how the university system is governed, and how we can ensure fair and just treatment for UIC within that system. In particular, funding models remain opaque, and seemingly lopsided in favor of programs in Urbana, even as UIC tends to work with students who have the greatest need for resources and support.

In the Legislature
UIC faculty are surely no strangers to how structural issues in the state legislature can affect how we work and how our students learn. UICUF isn’t helpless in this arena though. We have established a Committee on Political Education (COPE), which is addressing issues in the legislature, and lets members volunteer to pool resources in support of political campaigns that may affect UIC in the future. First on their to-do list is to get parity in treatment for our NTT faculty as compared with state college faculty, who enjoy more timely reappointment notices, and receive reasons for non-reappointment.

As you can see, even though the big contract push is over, there’s no shortage of ways we can continue to move the needle, making UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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We issue regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and on our website. We encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. If you want to contribute your story, pictures, video, or other content related to the activities of the union, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com. With your support, we are making UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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26 Sep Want More Job Security for NTT faculty – Support UICUF COPE

Know Your Contract Training
Student Center West, Room 206AB, 12-1:30pm, Mon, 9/30

Fall Member Meeting
Jane Addams Hull House, 3-5pm, Wed, 10/2

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  • COPE is UICUF’s Committee on Political Education. It allows us to collect and spend money on political campaigns, make endorsements, and engage in the political process
  • COPE’s primary role is to manage political contributions collected from our members, and educate students, faculty and the public on political issues that affect faculty
  • Faculty can get involved by becoming a contributor, or by emailing Kate Floros, COPE Chair. COPE is currently looking for strong communicators with graphic design skills
  • Union dues never go toward paying for political activities

 

This week we are exploring the role of the UICUF Committee on Political Education (UICUF COPE) in supporting faculty by giving us a voice in the state political processes that affect our university.

How Will COPE Improve Working/Learning Conditions at UIC?

  1. The COPE will work with other unions representing faculty in Illinois, and allies in the state legislature to create or expand laws impacting faculty rights. First and foremost, we hope to bring state laws regarding reappointment notifications for our NTT faculty in line with existing legislation governing faculty at community colleges. Should this effort succeed, NTT faculty would receive notification of non-reappointment months earlier than they currently do, and they would have the right to receive a written explanation for the non-reappointment.
  2. The COPE will bring faculty issues into focus with our union allies and affiliates. The COPE was successful in getting a resolution placed on the agenda of the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) convention, which, if passed, would commit the IFT to working toward passage of legislation like what is described above.
  3. The COPE intends to make its first-ever endorsements and/or contributions to a political campaign that has bearing on the health of our university ahead of the March 2020 Illinois primary elections.

 

What Is the COPE and What Else Does It Do?
The COPE has the same legal profile as a Political Action Committee, legally separate and distinct from UICUF. The distinction allows UICUF members to pool their funds/influence for endorsements and support of political/election campaigns which our union can’t otherwise participate in. This offers our members peace-of-mind knowing that union dues aren’t being used for politics, while also allowing politically-minded members a way to unite and support politicians and/or legislation important to university working conditions. The COPE is primarily focused on state and local issues and candidates, in order to most directly affect legislation related to higher education policy in Illinois.

The COPE’s other, equally important role is to educate students, faculty, and the public on faculty issues and working conditions. The committee is currently doing student outreach, and crafting a “UIC 101” one-sheet to help students understand how UIC as an institution is organized, its place within the University of Illinois System, and its status as a public research institution. There will be other educational materials about the student cost of attendance and the UIC budget later this academic year.

 

How Can Faculty Get Involved?
Faculty can get involved in the COPE initially by becoming a contributor. Union members (who are US citizens or permanent residents) can download a contribution form from our website and return it to kate.floros@gmail.com. Contributions are generally made through payroll deduction, but can be accepted in the form of a check if preferred. The COPE team strongly encourages faculty to consider becoming contributors, even if you can only afford a few dollars a month!

In the spirit of inclusiveness, each year, the COPE leadership team hosts a meeting where contributors are encouraged to help articulate COPE priorities. Additionally, the COPE team will reach out to contributors in advance of the March 17, 2020 primary election, before endorsements and/or donations are made, to elicit feedback on COPE’s endorsement plans. There are also monthly board meetings open to contributors (email Kate if you want to know the place and time of the next meeting). Lastly, some board seats become available every year, and any contributor is eligible to become a member of the board.

We hope you will take a moment to become a contributor, and get involved with our Committee on Political Education!

***

We issue regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and on our website. We encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. If you want to contribute your story, pictures, video, or other content related to the activities of the union, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com. With your support, we are making UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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19 Sep The Senate Caucus – Committee Profile

**Know Your Contract Trainings Friday 9/20/19**
Applied Health Sciences Building, Room 315, 10 – 11:30 am
College of Nursing, Room 202, 12 – 1:30 pm

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  • The Senate Caucus is a newly formed effort by UICUF to inform discussion in the University Senate on issues affecting faculty
  • The group was formed in response to the administration’s position in bargaining that certain issues are more appropriately addressed by the Senate through the Statutes
  • Senators can get involved by emailing Milos Zefran. UICUF members are encouraged to run for Senate, and communicate with Senators on issues affecting them day-to-day

 

Unions are always most visible during contract negotiations, but UICUF does so much more than bargain our contract. Dedicated faculty volunteers work on a variety of committees and efforts year round to promote safe, satisfying and enriching working conditions at UIC, to deal with workplace issues, and of course, to enforce our contract.

To give our members a better idea of all the ways UICUF is working for them every day, we will be showcasing the various committees and their work throughout the Fall Semester. Each segment will introduce a new or existing UICUF committee, discuss their work and goals, and let you know how you can get involved.

Without further ado, our first feature is on the newly established Senate Caucus!

What Is The Senate Caucus And What Does It Do?
The Senate Caucus is a group of Senators who are also UICUF members, specifically dedicated to discussing and educating other Senators on issues that affect faculty in our bargaining unit. It was formed, in part, as a response to the Administration’s frequent refrain during our last contract negotiations that certain issues were outside the scope of a labor agreement, and could only be addressed by the Senate through the UI Statutes. While we don’t entirely agree with this logic, it has prompted an interest in making sure that the Senate is at least aware of these issues when they do come up.

The University Senate has always been a fulcrum of shared governance, and UICUF appreciates their independent role in defining policy in areas like curriculum and tenure. The Senate Caucus is not a political party, or a mechanism to whip votes in the Senate. It’s intention is to bring forward and educate on issues in the Senate, and to keep UICUF members informed about Senate proceedings on issues of note. We strongly encourage UICUF members to interact with your representatives, and share your own opinions on key issues.

What Is The Senate Caucus Working On Right Now?
The Senate Caucus is brand new, but it already has a long list of agenda items to address. Key points include:

 

  • Increasing the maximum length of NTT appointments
  • Improving processes for protecting academic freedom and tenure
  • Opening access to sabbaticals for NTT faculty
  • Addressing the structure and uses of student evaluations
  • Creating “Teaching” titles to replace “Lecturer” and create an associated third rank for affected faculty

 

While there is no particular order of priority for these laid out at the moment, we hope to keep members informed if and when each issue does come up. Given the long list, we anticipate the Senate Caucus will have plenty to do this year, but if you want to put forward other ideas, we again encourage our members to be in touch with their College’s Senators.

How Can Members Get Involved?
Senators who want to be a part of the Senate Caucus can contact Milos Zefran (Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering) to be invited to the Caucus listserv. The Caucus will meet in person once per semester to discuss issues.

UICUF members who are not Senators can get involved in several ways. First, we highly encourage you to run for Senate if you are able. There are seats open every year, and even some seats unclaimed at the time of this writing in certain Colleges. Of course, not everyone can commit to being a Senator. The Senate meetings themselves are open to non-Senators if you just want to drop in (see our Calendar for dates), but in most cases, the best way to interact with the Senate is to be in contact with your College’s Senators about issues that matter to you!

***

We issue regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and on our website. We encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. If you want to contribute your story, pictures, video, or other content related to the activities of the union, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com. With your support, we are making UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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12 Sep Know-Your-Contract Collection

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  • UICUF is dedicated to helping faculty understand their rights under the union contract
  • Our Know-Your-Contract Series details how the contract applies to faculty’s everyday work life, and is also available via our website
  • UICUF will offer department-specific Know-Your-Contract workshops this fall. To request a workshop for your department, contact us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

 

Over the Summer, we’ve posted a variety of updates on how the new contract affects faculty day to day. We’ve now compiled this Know-Your-Contract series under the links below so that you can easily navigate to the topics that are most important to you.

Since the contract relies on faculty knowing and asserting their rights, especially in the use of shared governance to set department policies, we will be offering Know-Your-Contract workshops on a department-by-department basis this Fall semester. Workshops can be tailored to the specific circumstances of your department, so contact us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com if you would like to set one up for yourself and your colleagues.

Here is a summary of the Know-Your-Contract postings on our website:

ACADEMIC FREEDOM
One of the most important, but also hotly debated concepts in academia today, we explain specifically what our contract and the UI statutes have to say about academic freedom, how it is protected, and how we can further strengthen these important rights.

 

APPOINTMENT AND REAPPOINTMENT
Reappointments are a big deal, especially for NTT faculty. A key element of our new contract was to speed up time to muti-year appointments, and improve the notification process. Learn about your rights regarding multi-year appointments, when they should be applied, and when you are entitled to know about your appointment status each academic year.

 

DISCIPLINE AND DISMISSAL
A detailed explanation of your rights in the discipline process, including the right to union representation, expectations of due process, and what each step of that process should look like.

 

EVALUATIONS
Learn about your right to a timely, transparent, and appropriate annual evaluation, how they should be performed, how student input can and can’t be used, and what these evaluations should and should not be used for.

 

GRIEVANCES
While we hope not to have to file them often, grievances are the backbone of contract enforcement. This is the formal process by which faculty, with assistance from the union, can seek redress for breaches of the contract. Learn how the grievances work, including your rights, what you should do if you think you have cause to file, and what to expect from the process.

 

LIFE-CHANGING EVENTS
Though this set of rules is most commonly associated with a new child entering the home, it can also cover you if your family is impacted by a terminal condition or untimely death of a loved one. Learn about your rights under FMLA, and the extension of accommodations under existing UI System policy.

 

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FUNDS
A deep dive into Professional Development funds, including guaranteed amounts, and how to use them.

 

RAISES
Extensive information on how pay raises are determined, including the types of raises (Minimums, Merit, Compression/Equity, Promotions), the role of shared governance in deciding pay increases, use of guaranteed Professional Development funds, and how retro pay will work. Note that the university has advised that retro-pay will be distributed in October paychecks at the time of this writing.

 

TECHNOLOGY
Technology is central to the work of a modern university, and our new contract has a lot to say on the subject. Learn more about faculty rights to university provided computers, in-classroom technical support, and even a bit about the intersection between classroom tech and intellectual property rights.

 

WORK LOADS
The new contract specifies a role for shared governance in defining work loads in each department. Learn more about how those definitions should be created, what must be covered in these definitions, and how your work expectations are protected from abrupt changes mid-contract.

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We issue regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and on our website. We encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. If you want to contribute your story, pictures, video, or other content related to the activities of the union, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com. With your support, we are making UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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05 Sep Union Approval on the Rise | Local Events | Health Plan Updates

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  • Despite political attacks against organized labor, Gallup Polls put union approval at 64% this year, near it’s 50 year high!
  • UICUF’s Fall Party is tonight, Thursday, 9/5/19, 5-7pm @The Ambassador Public House! RSVP to UICUFJeff@gmail.com.
  • We are cosponsoring a Panel/workshop, Why Teacher Unions Matter, next Wednesday, 9/11/19, 6-8pm at the Chicago Teachers Union offices. Free registration via eventbrite.
  • Per recent communications to university employees, health plan changes originally scheduled to go into effect in January 1, 2020, will be postponed til July 1, 2020.

 

Union Approval is Way Up!
Public approval of unions jumped to 64% this year according to Gallup Polls, putting it near its 50-year. Most commentators point to a confluence of persistently depressed wages, and the mass wave of mostly educator-led strikes over the last year, which are proving that organized labor can win on major issues. For many workers, incomes have been almost flat versus inflation since the 70’s, but seeing workplace activism rise to the dizzying heights of challenging not only local conditions, but entire state budgets, has been a shock to the system. Especially for young workers who have no experience with an active labor movement, seeing organized labor winning high profile victories across the country has renewed a belief that unions can make a difference.

Fall Party Tonight
All members are encouraged to attend the Fall Party tonight at Ambassador Public House from 5-7pm. Get to know your colleagues a little better, or bring a new colleague and introduce them to the union. Non-members can join on the spot. Appetizers provided by the union, and cash bar available. RSVP to UICUFJeff@gmail.com.

Unions For Teachers – Why They Matter
We are cosponsoring an event with the Chicago Teachers Union and others, called Unions for Teachers: Why They Matter. It is an interactive workshop aimed primarily at future teachers to explore all the questions this group might have about labor and education. The event will include a panel of Chicago area educators, table discussions, and more! Plus food! The event is free to attend, so join us at the CTU Office from 6-8pm on September 11, and share with anyone who is new to education or studying to become a teacher. You can RSVP via Eventbright.

Health Plan Updates
In case you missed it, the UI system will be postponing planned changes to your health plans that were set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2020. The planned special enrollment period to allow faculty to change their health coverage has, therefore, also been postponed. The changes will now go into effect on July 1, 2020, at the beginning of the new fiscal year. Visit our website to find our review of the changes to university health plans in greater detail.

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We issue regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and on our website. We encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. If you want to contribute your story, pictures, video, or other content related to the activities of the union, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com. With your support, we are making UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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29 Aug An Important Message About Your Raises

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  • Per recent messages from the Provost, faculty should receive retroactive raises from the 2018-2019 academic year in their OCTOBER paychecks.
  • AY 2019-2020 raises are being calculated, but colleges are to notify faculty of their salaries by no later than September 9th.
  • The TT and NTT Contracts, and our earlier guidance on raises on our website.
  • UPCOMING EVENT: UICUF’s Back-To-School Social is Next Thursday, 9/5/19, 5-7pm @The Ambassador Public House. RSVP to UICUFJeff@gmail.com.

 

Revised Timeline for Retroactive Pay
After we reached a tentative agreement on our contract last Spring, we offered some guidance on raises, including expectations for implementation. Provost Poser also offered further guidance via emails this summer about when faculty could expect raises and retroactive pay. Per the Provost’s most recent email (relevant section reproduced below), these expectations have been revised. Faculty should now expect retroactive pay to be distributed in their OCTOBER pay checks (for the Sept. 16 – October 15 pay period).

Updated Pay Rates
You should already be receiving pay at rates reflecting any raise you were awarded for the 2018-2019 academic year. Pay raises for 2019-2020 academic year are reportedly being calculated now. While we do not know when the new salary will be distributed, you are to be notified of your new salary by September 9th.

Concerns Over Pay Amounts
We want to remind faculty that the specific amounts of merit and compression/equity pay each individual is awarded is at the discretion of administration, and cannot be grieved under our contract. Only failures to follow appropriate processes to reach these conclusions, such as failure to hold annual evaluations, or failure to consult using a shared governance process, are grievable.

From The Contract
You can review the exact language of our TT and NTT contracts on our website in Article VI.

Provost’s Email 8/28/19

  • Retro Pay: It is expected that retroactive pay will be provided to faculty in the October paycheck. UIC HR completed the pay updates, which appeared on paychecks in July. They are now completing the 2019-2020 merit and C/E increases. This is the next task that HR will turn to and it involves a lot of detailed work to ensure that 2018-2019 retro pay is calculated accurately.

 

  • Salary Notifications: Faculty should begin to receive notifications of their salaries for AY 2019-2020 shortly. The salaries will be uploaded to Banner next week and UIC HR instructed the colleges to notify faculty of their salaries no sooner than August 28th and no later than September 9th.

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We issue regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and on our website. We encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. If you want to contribute your story, pictures, video, or other content related to the activities of the union, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com. With your support, we are making UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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23 Aug Back To School With Your Union

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  • UICUF members welcomed new and returning faculty to UIC on Wednesday.
  • Union-hosted events this Fall are an opportunity to get involved and meet your colleagues!
  • We have volunteer opportunities to fit a wide range of interests and availabilities. You are the union. Help us make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

 

As UIC gears up to get back to school next week, our union is doing likewise. On Wednesday, union officers and members met with both new and returning faculty at a variety of events, and there is a lot more still to come! Over the next month, we’ll be hosting a number of union-led events that we welcome all to attend, and there are plenty of opportunities to get involved more directly as well. We won a major contract campaign last semester with the support of all our members, but there’s much more yet to do, and we’re ready to dive back in.

Welcoming (Back) Faculty
This Wednesday, new and returning faculty convened for a variety of orientations and trainings ahead of their first days of class next week, and UICUF was there to offer a hearty welcome. First, we attended the New Faculty Orientation where our President, Janet Smith, introduced the union to a whole new cohort of colleagues. Union members were also at the First Year Writing Program’s “Comp-Camp” and a targeted Know-Your-Contract training for faculty in the School of Art and Art History, to work with faculty on how the union can best support them in their own departments.

We want to remind all our members that it’s never too late to have UICUF present at a faculty meeting, or host our own meeting or training to discuss best practices with your department. If you are interested in working with us on setting something up for your department, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com

Meet Your Colleagues And Get Involved
Early Fall is always a busy part of the academic year, but we hope you’ll make some time to join your colleagues at one of our many union-sponsored events this semester:

Fall Welcome-Back Party, Sept. 5, 5-7pm, @Ambassador Public House, 310 S. Halsted: UICUF members are invited to our back-to-school gathering. New members encouraged to sign up at the door and join the fun! Please RSVP to UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

Unions For Teachers – Why They Matter, Sept. 11, 6-8pm, @Chicago Teachers Union Headquarters, 1901 West Carroll Avenue: All are invited to this free panel discussion and forum. Co-hosted by UICUF, CTU, and others.

UICUF Senate Caucus, Sept. 19, 3:30-5pm, location TBD: Union members with elected positions in the UIC Senate will be meeting to discuss critical shared governance issues and how we can move forward on items beyond the purview of our union contract.

UICUF Member Meeting, Oct. 2, 3-5pm, @Hull House, 800 S. Halsted: Learn about what your union is working on, and have your voice heard in key decisions at our membership meeting. Non-members sign up on-site when you arrive! Reception to follow.

Calling For Volunteers!
UICUF is looking for help in a variety of areas with responsibilities both large and small:

Committee on Political Education (COPE): Educate members and the public on political issues around public higher education and raise/contribute funds for candidates that support public higher ed. To join the COPE, send a completed contribution card to uicunitedfaculty@gmail.com. Contact: Kate Floros (Political Science) kate.floros@gmail.com.

Communications Committee: Develop materials to keep all members up to date on what is happening in the union, including regular email messages, videos, and broadsheets. Contact: Charitianne Williams (English) charitianne@gmail.com.

Shared Governance Committee: Oversee contract implementation at the unit level and ensure that all units are using appropriate shared governance practices. Contact: Jeff Edwards (UICUF staff): uicufjeff@gmail.com.

Board of Trustees Advocacy Committee: Work with other unions at UIC and in the U of I system to advocate for changes at the level of the Board of Trustees, including improving funding models and changing how Labor Relations interacts with unions across the system.  Contact: Janet Smith (Urban Planning & Policy) jjranch22@gmail.com.

Programming Committee: Plan educational and social events for UICUF members to get to know each other and build camaraderie across different schools. Contact: Laurie Schaffner (Sociology) schaff2012@gmail.com.

Contact Action Team: Maintain communication between union leadership and colleagues in your department by forwarding emails and having in-person conversations about important updates or events. Contact: Sophie Bauerschmidt Sweeney (UICUF staff): uicufsophie@gmail.com.

New Member Outreach: Accompany an organizer on office visits or meetings with faculty who are interested in joining UICUF. Contact: Sophie Bauerschmidt Sweeney (UICUF staff): uicufsophie@gmail.com.

University Senate Caucus: Work to strengthen collaboration between UICUF and the UIC Senate and to advocate for measures in the Senate that support faculty. Contact: Milos Zefran (Electrical & Computer Engineering) mzefran@gmail.com.

***
We issue regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and on our website. We encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. If you want to contribute your story, pictures, video, or other content related to the activities of the union, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com. With your support, we are making UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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15 Aug Know Your Contract – Life-Changing Events

  • All full-time faculty experiencing life-changing events are entitled to modified duties for up to 1 semester
  • This option is available in addition to the use of any paid leave you have accumulated at UIC, and/or unpaid leave under FMLA
  • Eligible circumstances include a new child entering the home, as well as a terminal condition or death in the immediate family
  • This entry refers to article VI.B of the 2018-2022 NTT contract and TT contract, university policy FPPG Section 501, and the Family & Medical Leave Act
  • TAKE ACTION: Welcome new faculty to UIC, afternoon of August 21st. Sign up here.

 

Faculty have a right to these accommodations, but since the laws and university policies governing them are broadly defined, the exact outcomes may differ depending on your circumstances. Also, given the mix of policies involved, thinking this through to best meet your needs can be a challenge. We have members experienced in navigating these policies who are able to assist you and advocate for you, so please reach out at UICUnitedFacultly@gmail.com for assistance.

What Qualifies as a “Life-Changing Event”?
Per university policy FPPG 501, in the context of eligibility for modified duties a Life-Changing Event is defined as one of the following:

  1. A new child enters the home 
  2. A spouse/partner, child, sibling, or parent is diagnosed as having a terminal illness and requires intensive life-saving treatment or is in the end stages of the illness
  3. Death of a spouse/partner, child, sibling, or parent

So, while this type of policy is usually associated with the birth of a child, it’s actually significantly more expansive. It’s also important to note that these qualifying events aren’t open to debate or interpretation by your supervisor. If you fall into a qualifying category, they MUST work with you on accommodations if that’s what you want.

These circumstances are also typically eligible for consideration under the Family & Medical Leave Act, FMLA, which grants expanded options for taking paid or unpaid leave.

When/How Long Can I Take Modified Duties?
You are entitled to modified duties for up to 1 semester, typically within 12 months of the event in question. This can be in lieu of, or in addition to other leave you intend to take in relation to these circumstances, including paid or unpaid leave under the FMLA.

Under the FMLA, you’re entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, some or all of which can be substituted with any paid leave you have at your disposal. At UIC, using paid leave time in this way is optional. So you might use the two weeks of paid sick days you have, a week of paid vacation time, and then take up to 9 additional weeks unpaid leave. You cannot be denied this time, nor can you be penalized, disciplined or fired for taking it.

What Does “Modified Duties” Mean?
Under university policy, you have to be given accommodations that make it possible for you to continue working in alternative capacities to those you normally perform.

There are some qualifications here. First and foremost, modified duties should be something you actually can do given your current circumstances. Equally important, you will keep your full pay. Your modified duties also should not entail a greater work commitment than what you are already doing, so you can’t be asked to replace two classes with 40 hours of administrative duties, for example.

Beyond this, there is a great deal of flexibility in what might be considered as modified duties. This is owing to the fact that work across departments and job titles at a major university are incredibly diverse, and typically require case-by-case solutions. Typical alternate tasks often include research or service responsibilities for Tenure Track faculty, or various administrative duties for Non-Tenure Track faculty. Depending on your circumstances, the modifications might be as minimal as scheduling all of your on-campus duties on the same day to simplify balancing care-giver responsibilities. You and your unit executive officer can get creative with it, as long as the solution you arrive at is mutually agreeable.

Lastly, though it is not required, it’s not uncommon for a unit executive officer to forgive up to one class worth of work time for a semester.

What Is FMLA?
FMLA is the Family & Medical Leave Act, which grants an array of rights and protections to people experiencing life-changing events like those described above. We touched incidentally on some aspects of FMLA, but it is a complex law, and we aren’t going to be able to describe all of its implications here. You can visit the FMLA area of the Department of Labor website for more detailed information on this law.

***

We issue regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and on our website. We encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. If you want to contribute your story, pictures, video, or other content related to the activities of the union, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com. With your support, we are making UIC an even better place to work and learn!

 

 

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08 Aug Know Your Contract – Grievances

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  • Grievances are a formal way to seek redress when the university violates the contract.
  • UICUF can assist in securing informal resolutions where possible, but faculty should still be mindful of the 30-day deadline to file a grievance.
  • We recommend faculty consult with UICUF ASAP to assess and preserve your options.
  • UICUF will NOT file a grievance on your behalf without your consent.
  • This entry refers to Articles XVIII of the 2018-2022 NTT contract and TT contract
  • TAKE ACTION: Welcome new faculty to UIC, afternoon of August 21st. Sign up here.

 

Today, we’re talking about grievances, both as they are described in our contract, and as they work in reality. Grievances can be intimidating, especially if you are in a situation serious enough to potentially warrant one, but they are also an important mechanism for enforcing the contract and empowering members when informal efforts fail. The first thing to remember when you’re in such a situation is that you are not alone; your union is here to help.

UICUF strongly recommends that faculty consult with a union representative as soon as possible if they believe they have cause to file a grievance, or are unsure of how to proceed. Given the complexity of the grievance process, and the unique nature of each individual grievance, this segment should be used for reference only and should not be considered a substitute for professional assistance by your union. You can reach UICUF via your own college representative or via our general email address, UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com if you prefer.  You can also feel free to contact Chief Steward Robert Johnston (History) at robert.douglas.johnston@gmail.com. It is best to use a non-UIC email account for these communications.

What Exactly Is a Grievance?
In the context of our union contract, a grievance is a formal method for addressing contract violations. According to Article XVIII.A:

A grievance is defined as a complaint filed by an employee, a group of employees, or the Union alleging that the University breached a Section or Sections of this Agreement.”

As stated, faculty, or the union itself, can file a grievance. It should also be noted that faculty can file with or without the participation of the union, though UICUF does not recommend proceeding without professional support. The UI system also has its own grievance procedure, which may be pursued instead of, or in parallel to, a contract grievance.

What If I’m Uncertain Whether My Concerns Are Grievable? Can UICUF Still Help?
Yes! UICUF can offer assistance to members on a variety of issues, including ones that never rise to the level of filing a formal grievance. Indeed, a majority of requests for assistance that the union receives never result in a grievance being filed. The best thing to do if you have an issue you’re uncertain about is to contact UICUF as soon as you are able. This is both to help you assess your options, but also to ensure that your option to file a grievance is preserved against filing deadlines.

How Long Do I Have To File A Grievance?
According to Article XVIII.D, there is a 30-day deadline for filing a formal grievance from the time the issue/incident occurred, or from the time when it should reasonably have been discovered. This means its critically important that you consult with UICUF immediately if you think you have such an issue. While a formal grievance may not be the best way to proceed, if you wait too long, it may no longer be an option.

If I File A Grievance, How Long Will It Take To Be Resolved?
How quickly a grievance is resolved is highly variable. Some cases are settled almost immediately, but many more take months. In general, a grievance must be filed at Level 1–the  academic unit level. Appeals after that include Level 2 (Dean) and Level 3 (Provost/University Labor Relations). Level 4, the final level, involves an impartial third-party arbitrator.

As you might expect, all of this can take a lot of time and effort, which is one of many reasons our union seeks informal solutions where possible. When a formal grievance is necessary, however, it’s important to bear in mind that resolution may take considerable time.

What CANNOT Be Grieved (And What Else Can Be Done)?
There are a number of issues explicitly described in our contract which cannot be addressed through the grievance process. Most commonly, these include determinations of pay/raise amounts, unfavorable evaluations, decisions not to offer promotion/tenure, or the findings of academic freedom inquiries.

HOWEVER, the processes by which the above kinds of decisions were arrived at are indeed grievable. So, while you cannot grieve, say, the amount of your merit raise, you may be able to grieve an inappropriate decision-making process. In this example, that may be a failure to perform an annual evaluation necessary to determine merit increase. That would in fact be a violation of the contract.

What If I Just Need To Talk Something Out?
Even if a matter is not formally grievable, UICUF representatives are often able to offer suggestions or provide support in difficult or unjust professional circumstances. You should never hesitate to reach out!.

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We issue regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and on our website. We encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. If you want to contribute your story, pictures, video, or other content related to the activities of the union, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com. With your support, we are making UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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02 Aug Know Your Contract – Technology

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  • Our union contract guarantees new computers for faculty every four years
  • Replacements should occur on or before August 1st
  • Computers can be chosen from ACCC supported options up to $1,500 + 3 year extended warranty (for a total 4 year warranty)
  • Faculty are also entitled to classroom technology and printing support at all hours during which courses are scheduled, starting 30 minutes before the first class of the day
  • This entry refers to Articles VII of the 2018-2022 NTT contract and TT contract
  • Help welcome new faculty to UIC, the afternoon of August 21st. Sign up here.

No matter what field you work in, technology is an inseparable part of life at a modern university. In light of this reality, we’ve negotiated in our union contract to ensure that every faculty member has access to both a personal computer for their day-to-day work, as well as robust support for technology in the classroom. In this entry, we discuss what the contract has to say about your rights regarding workplace technology.

How Does The UIC Computer Program Work?
Per article VII.E of our contract:

“The University will provide each bargaining unit position a new computer not to exceed $1,500 (plus the cost of a three-year extended warranty) to be chosen from a set of available and supported configurations from the campus office of Academic Computing and Communications Center (ACCC).”

This is fairly straightforward. All faculty should be able to choose a computer which the university will provide, along with a 3 year extended warranty. To be extra-clear, the 3 year warranty is an extension over the standard 1 year warranties, so you should have a total of 4 years coverage. Also, the $1,500 limit is for the computer itself. The additional cost of extended warranties, where applicable, will be covered by the university in addition to this limit, not within it.

Can I Get A Computer If I Am A Visiting Or Adjunct Faculty Member?
Yes, as long as you are in our bargaining unit. Per the above contract language, the university must provide a computer for each position within the unit regardless of title, tenure, or performance. If your position is only in-unit intermittently because your percentage appointment is subject to change from semester-to-semester, you should still be entitled to a computer, at least during the time you are counted in the bargaining unit.

If you are unsure of your bargaining unit status, or feel you are being denied access to a computer inappropriately, contact us ASAP at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

Do I Own This Computer?
No. While the computer is provided for your exclusive use by the university, its important to recognize that it is still university property. This has a number of implications. First, if you leave the university for any reason, you do have to return the computer. Second, you should use this computer, even if it is a laptop that you take home at the end of the day, in accordance with the norms of conduct befitting a workplace.

When Can I Replace An Old Computer?
If your university-provided computer is more than 4 years old, you are entitled to a replacement. Technically, your department should have already initiated this process back in January, and you should have received your new computer on or before August 1st.

If you need to seek a replacement computer, you should start by asking within your own department. If for any reason you have trouble obtaining a new/replacement computer to which you are contractually entitled, contact us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

When Will Classroom Support Be Available?
Over the last year or two, the union has received a number of complaints that classroom support was not available throughout the day. Especially with the move to incorporate classes later in the evening, we prioritized negotiating for extended classroom support in the new contract.

Per article VII.F:

“The University shall provide classroom support during all hours in which courses are scheduled, including access to printers and technology support for classrooms with sufficient on-campus staff to facilitate timely support.  This support shall commence at least a half hour before courses are scheduled.”

So in short, faculty should be able to expect support during or immediately before their classes meet, regardless of how early or late the class is scheduled. Printer access is also guaranteed. If you have trouble getting service in a timely manner, you can let us know at UICUnitedFacutly@gmail.com.

What About Intellectual Property?
While this is slightly tangential to the technology support in our contract, we did seek to head off some questions regarding ownership rights in relation to third-party agreements the university has with vendors, like Blackboard. Per Article VII.G:

“In accordance with the University of Illinois Statutes and General Rules Concerning University Organization and Procedures, faculty members shall retain ownership rights to traditional academic copyrightable work.”  

This essentially reaffirms standing rules, but the underlying context is important. The university or its agents (read: administrators) cannot use third-party agreements to appropriate your work. If you suspect that your work is being used inappropriately without your permission, you should contact the union ASAP.

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We issue regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and on our website. We encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. If you want to contribute your story, pictures, video, or other content related to the activities of the union, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com. With your support, we are making UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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