Author: Tony Floriani

02 Apr Union Advocacy in the Wake of COVID-19

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  • While we all have been busy preparing to work remotely, UICUF has been advocating for faculty, staff, and our students as work conditions change.
  • We’ve already achieved some goals, like deferring tenure deadlines, reaffirming faculty discretion on course delivery, and ensuring the library won’t reopen under unsafe conditions.
  • We are also working on other issues our members have raised, such as commitments to reappoint NTT faculty, protections against skewed student evals, and the carry-over and/or timely payout of PD funds.
  • Additionally, our parent union, AFT, has announced availability of trauma counseling for any member diagnosed with COVID19 or experiencing other traumatic life events.

 

As you all know, UIC has undertaken rapid and sweeping changes over the last few weeks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While everyone has been preparing to work under these new conditions, UIC United Faculty has been advocating to make sure that each policy change is implemented fairly, and that impacts to our members’ lives and livelihoods are not overlooked.

What We’ve Achieved So Far
Since UIC announced the move to remote work and learning, we’ve successfully advocated for:

  • Closure of the library: Union library workers were instrumental in having all campus libraries, inherently high risk environments for workers and students, closed indefinitely to protect the health of our community. This is a reversal of proclamations by top administrators that the library would remain open, heedless of any health risks.
  • Extending the Tenure Clock: After input from UICUF, Provost Poser announced that faculty can apply to extend their tenure clocks for up to a year, even if they are in the final year before review. While definitely a positive development, we will continue advocating for more time to be given if needed.
  • Reaffirming Faculty Rights: In response to onerous and contract violating release forms being imposed on faculty as a condition to work remotely, UICUF was able to have the administration reaffirm, in writing, faculty’s rights in a remote work environment. This includes exclusive intellectual property rights to your course materials, and their rights to autonomy in presenting courses, including using asynchronous methods.
  • Reasserting Shared Governance on Grading Decisions: The administration, after pressure from UICUF, reaffirmed their contractual commitment to consult with the faculty senate on any changes to grading policy.
  • Roll-Out of Online Tools (Zoom): Zoom, a global standard for online collaboration was not fully supported until we brought it to the attention of the administration. Now, all faculty have full professional access to use zoom for meetings and remote classes.

 

Things We’re Still Advocating For
Of course, our work is far from over. We continue to advocate for the following considerations and protections:

  • Health and Safety: We continue to advocate that workspaces be appropriately equipped for the health and safety of workers and students. This includes not only proper cleaning and access to sanitizer for those who do have to work on-site, but also increased physical security while the campus remains largely depopulated.
  • Reappointment Protections for NTT: We are advocating for a robust commitment by the administration to reappoint all NTT faculty for the next academic year. We’ve also pushed for visiting faculty applying for permanent positions to be given a one-year extension to their appointments if search processes are disrupted by the pandemic.
  • Timely Payout and Rollover of PD Funds: We’ve demanded that the administration dispel uncertainty on professional development funds, left in limbo from UIC’s travel ban and conference cancellations/postponements, by rolling over funds through to the end of our contract period in 2022. We’ve also asked that guidance be disseminated to ensure any outstanding reimbursements are honored regardless of conference status.
  • Protections Against Skewed Evaluations: Student evaluations are a flawed measure of performance in the best of times. With the rapid shift to online learning and the pursuant impact this will have on course quality and accessibility, we are asking that all faculty be held harmless for negative evaluations this semester.

 

Resources for Faculty and Students
We have access to a number of resources to help faculty, staff, and students affected directly by COVID-19. You can visit UIC’s Flames Fund for details on funds for students and healthcare workers. We also now have access to a special benefit from AFT, offering up to 21 hours of trauma counseling for those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or who have experienced other personal traumas. You will need your membership ID number to sign up, so if you do not know it, feel free to use this form to request it, or you are welcome to email us confidentially at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com for assistance.  

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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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25 Mar FAQ on Work Conditions During COVID-19 Crisis

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  • After hundreds of conversations with faculty, we have an FAQ addressing some of the most common questions we’ve heard.
  • This is our most up-to-date knowledge, but the situation remains fluid and we will try to update you as we learn more.
  • We strongly recommend you reach out to the union at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com if you have any work-related concerns

 

UIC United Faculty has spoken with hundreds of faculty in the past week regarding the transition to remote instruction and will continue checking in over the weeks ahead. This documentation focuses on the questions we’ve heard the most, and reflects our most up-to-date knowledge of the situation, although we acknowledge the situation seems to change overnight. We will make every effort to keep our information up to date, and communicate to our members additional changes as they become clear.

Do I need to sign new forms or agreements to work remotely?
No, nor are such forms enforceable if you have already signed them. You do not need to sign any additional forms or agreements to work from home, as any such agreement represents changes to your working conditions which must be negotiated with the union. Furthermore, faculty cannot individually sign away rights granted through our collective bargaining agreement, such as exclusive intellectual property rights to course materials. To repeat, this means that even if you have already signed such a form or agreement, it cannot be enforced.

Examples of these forms that we are aware of include the UIC HR Telecommuting Agreement and any form of release or permission to record video and audio.

Does UIC or the Board of Trustees own the content I develop for remote classes?
No, except if the course is developed as part of an explicit work-for-hire agreement, separate from your regular duties. University statutes and our union contract stipulate that “faculty members shall retain ownership rights to traditional academic copyrightable work.” That includes any and all materials developed for use on-line or through alternative teaching methods. Faculty can expect to enter into a separate agreement, including compensation, if they are asked to create online content for the university’s use, and you cannot be compelled to do so.

Can I be ordered to deliver synchronous courses online?
No, faculty have explicit autonomy in how to prepare and deliver their courses. Per our contract and university statutes, faculty have broad discretion in how to deliver course content within the bounds of university policy. In-person classes, labs, etc. are currently suspended, but beyond that order you may choose what form of content delivery is most appropriate for you and your classes.

Can I choose to continue to hold in-person classes or work on-site?
No, you cannot choose to work in your office or classroom during the shelter-in-place order currently in effect state-wide. It is also our understanding that even once the shelter-in-place order is lifted, the suspension of in-person classes, labs, etc. will remain in effect for UIC through the end of the semester, and could be extended further if needed.

Can I be ordered to work under conditions that seem unsafe?
No, but you need to be able to show that unsafe conditions exist as described by OSHA or the CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines. See also the US Department of Labor page on COVID-19. Essential personnel may be asked to continue working, but should be provided with necessary safeguards to reasonably ensure protection from exposure to COVID-19. Please contact UICUF at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com for help if you are being asked to continue working but have not been provided adequate protection for the continuation of your duties.

How do I find out if I am considered “Essential?”
At this time, the UIC Administration has not made any direct statements about what positions are considered essential. We have been advised that faculty can ask their supervisors for clarification if they are unsure of their status. If you feel you have been inappropriately designated as essential, contact the union at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

How will the university handle merit, reappointment, promotion, and tenure decisions considering disruptions from the current crisis?
As of 3/25/20, the Administration has announced an option will be made available to extend tenure clocks by up to a year. We are currently still discussing other holds and extensions for NTT faculty with the Administration. Specifically, we are strongly advocating that faculty be held harmless for any failures to meet anticipated milestones (such as classroom observations) in a timely manner due to COVID-19.

Can my supervisor perform class observations during an online class session?
Maybe, but this would be a significant shift in the conditions under which such an evaluation would normally be performed, and cannot be assumed to represent the same performance, either by faculty or students, as would be the case during an in-person class. We are bringing proposals to the Administration to hold faculty harmless if required observations, evaluations or other milestones are disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we recommend that faculty not agree to any alternative arrangements they do not feel comfortable with in the meantime.

We have had several instances of faculty successfully pushing back against online observations. If your supervisor insists on an online observation against your wishes, contact us ASAP at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

What is happening with professional development funds?
No decisions have been made regarding changes to reimbursements or timelines to use PD funds. We are strongly advocating for funds to be rolled over through the remainder of the contract period (August 2022), and that faculty be reimbursed promptly for conference and travel expenses they have already paid for in good faith, even if those conferences are postponed indefinitely.

Do I have to use leave time if I am sick with COVID-19?
At the moment, yes, standard sick leave policy applies. Per UIC’s Human Resources guidance, for most faculty this means you automatically have 13 days of sick leave per year, plus up to 12 additional days which are accrued throughout the year. Note that this only applies if you are sick and unable to work. Under current orders from Governor Pritzker, workers will not be denied pay if they are ready to work but unable to do so due to safety concerns related to COVID-19.  We are strongly advocating for the expansion of sick leave days–at least 14 extra days–for all workers at UIC, and for any worker who is diagnosed with COVID-19 to be granted leave without tolling their paid leave days.

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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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19 Mar Transition Tips and UICUF Response During the Pandemic

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  • UICUF wants to ensure a smooth transition for faculty during the COVID-19 response.
  • We have initiated demands for impact bargaining over changes to working conditions during this time.
  • UICUF will also begin doing member check-ins by phone over the coming days to find out if you are getting everything you need to succeed under the new working conditions.
  • We strongly recommend you reach out to the union proactively at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com if you have any work-related concerns.

 

Last week, Coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, came into much sharper focus in our lives here at UIC. The local and system administrations have issued responses to the growing impact the virus is having on education and campus life, and we have submitted our own statement regarding shifting working conditions.

In addition to maintaining the safety of our members and students, we want to emphasize that the current situation is not an invitation to suspend shared governance, faculty autonomy, academic freedom, intellectual property rights, or workload norms at UIC. We also want to reinforce the reality that rapidly developed online curricula will not necessarily meet the same standards as purpose-built online courses, and that not all students may be equally prepared to take advantage of such online offerings. In short, we hope that a sense of understanding and generosity is extended to all members of the university community in this time of uncertainty.

Transitional Resources
There is a growing pool of resources for faculty to explore both in protecting yourselves and your students, and in transitioning your work during the COVID-19 response. We’ve compiled a few links here for your convenience:

AAUP guidance on university policies, online course transition, etc

Joint AFT and AAUP statement of principles

Guidance about accessible online teaching from the UIC Disability Cultural Center

The UIC COVID19 website – (Regularly updated info on UIC’s response to COVID-19)

And for those with students who lack easy access to the internet off campus, effective Monday, March 16, 2020, Comcast is offering 2 months free internet to new customers in response to recent emergency measures associated with the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Impact Bargaining
While the situation is evolving, we have initiated a demand to bargain with the administration over changing work conditions pursuant to the new policies created by university’s COVID-19 response. Regardless of circumstances precipitating these changes, it is the union’s duty to undertake negotiations on our members’ behalf to assure their contractual rights are not impacted by unilateral policy change. That being said, we do not intend to slow or restrict timely responses to the current situation, but rather hope to ensure that the transition in working conditions is smooth and fair for our members.

Member Check-Ins
Over the coming days and weeks, UICUF will be doing member check-ins by phone. We know that everyone is working hard to accommodate changes during this transitional period, and want to make sure our members have everything they need to succeed under the new conditions.

If you are experiencing immediate workplace concerns, whether they be a lack of information, unclear or inappropriate expectations, or challenges maintaining your teaching or research, we encourage you to proactively reach out to the union via UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

Our Fellow Workers
While we do not represent the vast majority of workers at UIC, we hope you will treat every worker, from grad assistants to custodial staff, with understanding and respect in these difficult times. Many workers do not have access to paid sick leave, or obvious ways to work remotely. We will be supporting our union colleagues, and workers throughout the university community, in calling for universal paid sick leave for all workers so as best to protect their safety, and public health at UIC.  

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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 Mar Facilities Shortcomings Highlighted by Faculty Survey

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  • This week, we look at the results of our Faculty Survey dealing with facilities, safety, and staff support.
  • We encourage all faculty to demonstrate support for SIEU, the workers who help maintain facilities and guard our safety, as they negotiate their new contract for fair pay and staffing.
  • UICUF Officer Elections will be held this April 13th and 14th for all elected positions in the union. Nomination forms are available on our website’s “People” page, and are due Monday, 3/30 by 5pm.

 

Last week, we closed our Faculty Satisfaction Survey and began sharing results. To get a deeper understanding of the survey, we’ll be reviewing each major section in their own segment over the next few weeks, starting with facilities and faculty support.

Deteriorating Facilities
Our first big question of the survey asked if there are physical conditions on campus that limit faculty’s ability to perform work duties, and an overwhelming 84% answered in the affirmative. By far the biggest portion of these cited deteriorating facilities, which just under half (49%) of faculty respondents complained about. In the most extreme examples, people have complained about buildings that are literally crumbling, or suffer from degraded utilities like broken elevators, poor air circulation, and damage to floors or walls. About a third (33%) pointed specifically to broken equipment, ranging from dead air conditioners and radiators, to defective classroom technology.

Lack of adequate temperature control was the second leading issue at 44% reporting issues with their workspaces being too hot or too cold. Only slightly less widespread, but perhaps more concerning, 42% of all respondents said they lacked sufficient office, lab, classroom, or meeting space fit for their functions.

Finally, while the reporting numbers are smaller, significant portions of the faculty have complained about lack of access to appropriate bathroom facilities (10%) and/or lack of accommodation for disabilities (5%). These issues in particular signal that we’ve still got work to do to create an inclusive environment for all UIC faculty and students.

Campus Safety Concerns
Safety continues to be a major area of faculty concern. Almost two thirds (63%) of faculty said they had safety concerns about one or more areas on campus, with nearly half (48%) stating that the parking lots are a particular issue. Some of these issues were raised in contract negotiations last year, but we were largely rebuffed by the Administration. We did secure a clause giving the union the opportunity to meet and confer on campus security, and we intend to exercise that prerogative in light of the widespread concerns we’re hearing.

Staffing Shortages
When asked if there was adequate staff support for faculty, over half (55%) said there was not, or that they weren’t sure. While we do not have a further breakdown of what lead to these answers, comments tended to describe difficulty getting offices and classrooms cleaned, as well as problems with technology support for classes. We know from our colleagues in SIEU, the union representing support staff, that they are chronically understaffed, and that the understaffing has even led to safety concerns among these workers. As a first step to better support for faculty, we hope you’ll demonstrate solidarity with these workers as they are currently negotiating for their own fair 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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27 Feb Member Meeting Recap and Initial Survey Findings

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  • On Wednesday, we held our Spring Member Meeting!
  • Discussions included advocacy efforts locally, in the UI system and legislatively. We also heard some early findings from our recent faculty satisfaction survey.
  • Our survey is now closed and initial results show that there is a lot of work ahead to educate both faculty and administrators on faculty rights
  • UICUF Officer Elections will be held this April 13th and 14th for all elected positions in the union. Nomination forms are available on our website’s “People” page, and are due Monday, 3/30 by 5pm.

 

While we covered a lot of ground in our membership meeting this Wednesday, a few things definitely stood out.

Advocacy Efforts
First, though this is not a bargaining year, our committees are hard at work on initiatives to improve faculty working conditions. Our colleagues in the Faculty Senate reported back that progress is being made toward drafting resolutions that will add Teaching Professor ranks to the UI statutes, allowing current Instructors and Lecturers added opportunities for recognition and advancement. Work is also being done to increase the maximum multi-year appointment for NTT faculty in the statutes. Meanwhile, our COPE team is working concurrently to change state law to give NTT faculty notices of reappointment months earlier than currently required, and force the university to give written explanations for non-renewal.

Protecting Jobs
We also heard about a local victory by our union members in the Tutorium for Intensive English, a program jointly run by UIC and Shorelight Education LLC. This program has been managed in partnership with Shorelight, but UIC faculty provide the actual classroom work that makes the program run. Recently however, these faculty members became aware that plans were under consideration to outsource their work, in violation of their contracts. With assistance from UICUF, the TIE faculty were successfully able to push back and quash any further speculation about eliminating their positions, a major win for both TIE faculty and the union!

 

Initial Survey Findings
Our survey to gauge faculty satisfaction and program adherence to our contract is now closed, and we do have some interesting results to share. We’ll dive much deeper into individual colleges and departments in the future, but it became immediately apparent that a few big issues stand out:

  • 85% of faculty say that one or more issues related to physical facilities are interfering with their work.
  • As much as 20% of the bargaining unit may not be getting yearly evaluations,
  • Nearly 40% feel uncertain whether they can express dissenting opinions in their academic units without reprisal.

 

Some of the most disturbing results came regarding academic freedom. At least 5% of faculty responded that they were pressured by a supervisor to change grades or grading curves. We will be discussing this particular outcome and its implications in much greater detail in future messages. Faculty urgently need to join the conversation about the factors leading to grade pressures and student support at UIC, and how these issues should be addressed.

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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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19 Feb UICUF Membership Meeting and Survey Extension

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  • Membership Meeting: Our Spring Membership Meeting is coming up next Wednesday, 2/26, 3:30-5pm, at Hull House. You can become a union member at the door!
  • We will preview survey results, discuss upcoming officer elections, and launch a legislative advocacy campaign on UI budget equity
  • Faculty Survey deadlines have been extended to midnight, Sunday 2/23 to give more time for faculty participation. Email us if you didn’t get one!
  • UICUF Officer Elections will be held this April 13th and 14th for all elected positions in the union. Nomination forms are available on our website’s “People” page, and are due Monday, 3/30 by 5pm.

 

Member Meeting
UICUF holds a membership meeting each semester to inform and engage our members in the ongoing efforts of the union. Our Spring Membership meeting is coming up NEXT WEDNESDAY, 2/26/20, and we hope to see many of you there! As always, members will be welcome to stay after for a reception with light refreshments to meet their fellow members and the union’s leadership and staff. Membership meetings are members-only events, but anyone in our bargaining unit can sign up to join the union at the door if they wish to attend!

This semester, we will be sharing preliminary results from our Faculty Satisfaction Survey (deadline extended, see below for more details), and launching an advocacy campaign around creating greater inter-campus equity in the U of I system’s budgeting process. We have been told time and again in bargaining that the university has no money, even as it is clear that the system has plenty of money to spend on other priorities and in other places, where incidentally, our fellow unionists are also being told there is no money! Pushing for greater budget transparency and equity in distribution is not just a bureaucratic shuffle, but a necessary first step in pushing for a model that takes into account the distinct needs of UIC students, who require greater financial assistance on average than UIUC students to pursue their degrees. Taking a close look at the system’s budgeting model will also better position us to fight for the needs of students and faculty next time we’re at the bargaining table.

Faculty Survey Deadline Extended
As you’ve likely already noticed, we have been running a Faculty Satisfaction Survey over the last couple of weeks. While the survey was scheduled to close yesterday, we have chosen to extend the deadline through the weekend to allow more faculty to participate. This survey is open to all faculty in our bargaining unit, regardless of whether they are or are not a union member, and covers questions on shared governance, academic freedom and facilities. Your input will help us identify what is and isn’t working for faculty at UIC.

Check your email for the survey invitation, or contact us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com if you need help getting access.

UICUF Officer Elections
We are currently accepting nominations for UICUF officers and Reps, with elections coming in April. Any faculty member who has signed up to be a UICUF member is eligible to vote or run for office. Nominations and endorsements should be submitted electronically via the forms below, which are also available on our website’s “People” page.

  • Executive Board
  • Representative Assembly:

 

Nomination forms must be submitted by 5pm, Monday, March 30th. The election will be conducted April 13th – 14th.

Benefits Highlight
As UICUF Members, you are entitled to benefits from all of our affiliate unions, including the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the American Federation of Teachers, and the American Association of University Professors.

Today, we want to highlight a free program through the American Federation of Teachers that provides free identity theft protection to our members. In partnership with CLC ID Protect, AFT is offering basic identity theft protection through their website. This is just one of many free and reduced-price benefits our affiliates have to offer, and you can learn more about ways to save at https://www.unionplus.org/!

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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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13 Feb UICUF Officer Elections and Free Speech on Campus

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  • Campus Conversation on Free Speech: The Provost is hosting a discussion Thursday, Feb. 13, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in the Illinois Rooms, Student Center East.
  • Faculty Surveys are out and we need your participation to get the best results! Email us if you didn’t get one!
  • UICUF Officer Elections will be held this April 13th and 14th for all elected positions in the union. Nomination forms are available on our website’s “People” page, and are due Monday, 3/30 by 5pm.

Campus Conversation on Free Speech
Provost Poser has announced that the university will hold a Campus Conversation concerning the contours of free speech on campus this week. The discussion will be held Thursday, Feb. 13, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in the Illinois Rooms, Student Center East. Legal scholars will weigh in, and Q&A is welcome. We highly encourage you to participate, or tune in via youtube live at UIC’S YouTube channel.

Faculty Surveys
We’re surveying everyone in our bargaining unit, and your participation will give us a much better understanding of what’s working and what’s not at UIC today. Topics covered include Academic Freedom, Facility maintenance, and Shared Governance. Check your email for an invitation to take the survey!

UICUF Officer Elections
We’ve just mailed the official announcement that the terms for our current UICUF officers and Reps will be expiring soon. Pursuant to our Constitution, nominations are now being accepted for the positions listed below.  Descriptions of the duties of these offices can be found on the nomination forms and under Article VI of our Constitution.

Executive Board Positions

  • President
  • Executive Vice President
  • Secretary (no election; filled by immediate past-president)
  • Treasurer
  • Vice President for Tenure System Faculty
  • Vice President for Non-Tenure Track Faculty
  • Vice President Chief Steward

Representative Assembly Seats

SEATS  COLLEGE/GROUPING
1  Applied Health Sciences
2  Architecture, Design & the Arts
1  Business Administration
1  Education
2  Engineering
4  LAS / Humanities & Interdisciplinary Programs
3  LAS / Natural Sciences
2  LAS / Social & Behavioral Sciences
1  Library
2  Nursing
2  Public Health
1  Tutorium in Intensive English
1  Social Work
1  Urban Planning & Public Affairs

 

Any faculty member who has signed up to be a UICUF member is eligible to vote or run for office. Nominations and endorsements are submitted electronically via the forms below, which are also available on our website’s “People” page.

 

Nomination forms must be submitted by 5pm, Monday, March 30th. The election will be conducted April 13th – 14th.

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We issue regular updates via email, FacebookTwitterYouTube, 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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07 Feb 2020 Faculty Satisfaction Survey Now Live!

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  • UICUF just released our 2020 Faculty Satisfaction Survey to all bargaining unit members. Check your email for an invitation to participate.
  • This survey will help us track faculty satisfaction and contract implementation around key issues.
  • SAVE THE DATE: Our Spring Membership Meeting is 3:30-5pm, Wednesday, 2/26/20.
  • Email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com if you did not receive a survey link, and/or to RSVP to the member meeting!

 

A Survey About Satisfaction, and Our Contract
While you may expect to see surveys from the union leading up to contract negotiations, gauging satisfaction and the effectiveness of contract implementation in between bargaining is equally important. We’ve just released a survey to help us better understand how faculty are feeling about the university and UICUF, and to learn if hard-won rights now enshrined in our contract are actually being implemented.

The survey asks questions in three broad categories: Physical facilities, academic freedom, and shared governance. Appropriate facilities, whether that be convenient lactation areas or simply clean and functional classrooms, can have a major impact on the working environment of faculty, and the learning environment for students. Meanwhile, Academic Freedom is critical to all we say and do in our classrooms, research and service. UICUF is committed to gathering more information so we can effectively push back on any erosion of this important right. Finally, shared governance is a cornerstone of academic decision-making, and is now also a cornerstone of how our contract is implemented, making it’s even and appropriate application even more important. We want to encourage faculty to think about these issues, and whether your rights are being taken seriously, so we can make a candid assessment of whether things are improving, or need more work.

Spring Membership Meeting
As we do each semester, we will be holding a Spring Membership meeting, from 3:30-5pm, Wednesday, February 26th, at Hull House, followed by a reception. You must be a member to attend, but faculty can join at the door if they wish to participate.

This semester we’ll be discussing advocacy campaigns here at UIC, the UI system, and the state legislature. We’ll also have more information about the upcoming UICUF Officer Elections, and will consider proposals for updating dues reduction rules that affect our lowest paid members. We hope you’ll join us for the meeting, and stay for a reception with light refreshments afterwards!

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We issue regular updates via email, FacebookTwitterYouTube, 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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31 Jan UICUF Wants You To Vote!

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  • This year, we will be voting for everything from state legislators to US President, and UICUF strongly encourages all of our members to vote!
  • Registration deadlines for the March primaries are coming up 2/18. Online registration is available until 2/29.
  • It’s a great time to join our Committee on Political Education for as little as $1/mo.
  • UICUF Officer and Rep elections will also be run this semester by members of our Election Committee. Contact UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com to help with the elections!

 

Get Ready to Vote!
As a union that stresses democratic participation in our workplace, we’d be remiss if we didn’t urge every member to participate in local and national elections as well. For most, the next big round of contests will be the State Primaries on March 17th. Of course, in order to vote, you need to be registered, so this is our first reminder to make sure you take this necessary step. This is particularly important if you or anyone in your life has recently moved, or just turned 18. To vote in the Illinois Primaries you should ideally register by 2/18. If you’re uncertain whether you are registered, you can check online.

Do More with UICUF COPE
If you want to get more involved in how our union endorses and supports state and local candidates (we do not intend to independently endorse in national races), join our Committee on Political Education for as little as $1 a month. COPE is an independent group which, unlike UICUF, can raise and donate money to political campaigns. This gives our members the peace of mind knowing that dues never go toward paying for political candidates, while offering the opportunity for faculty to voluntarily pool resources in support of races that will affect higher education.* The COPE Board of Trustees is currently assessing which candidate(s) to endorse for the March 17 Illinois primary. Any questions about the UICUF COPE can be directed to uicufcope@gmail.com.

UICUF Officer and Rep Elections
UICUF will be holding our own elections this year, so look out for the official announcement by mail in the next two weeks. Since our internal elections are run by a committee of members who neither hold, nor intend to seek, elected positions within the union, we are currently looking for faculty to volunteer. This is a short-term commitment that is central to the democratic functioning of our union, and participating members will be supported by our experienced staff at each step of the process. Contact us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com if you’re interested in joining this committee.

Tentative dates for UICUF’s election cycle are as follows:

  • Notice of Elections sent by mail no later than 2/17
  • Nominations closed and polling information posted by 3/30
  • Elections held 4/13-4/14

We hope you will take the time this year to participate in the democratic process at all levels!

 

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*Contributions or gifts to the UICUF COPE qualified fund are not tax deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. A copy of our report filed with the State Board of Elections is available on the Board’s official website, www.elections.il.gov, or for purchase from the State Board of Elections, Springfield, Illinois.

We issue regular updates via email, FacebookTwitterYouTube, 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 Jan Killeen Windfall Stands Out Amid Staffing Concerns

Strike for fair contract sign cropped

 

Stark Contrast: As UI President Killeen is Rewarded, Workers Left Behind
Last week we reported our expectations for the Board of Trustees meeting in Chicago. This included a vote to raise tuition for Fall 2020 and the President’s salary a whopping 40%. While some board members challenged the tuition increase, no one questioned paying the president $835,000 a year for the next four years. This, while promising administrative cost savings and while union members demonstrated just a few feet away over low pay and understaffing of service and support positions. Talk about a study in contrast.

What it Takes to Get a Fair Contract (If You’re a Worker)
We here at UIC United Faculty are frustrated with these developments, to say the least. We have all experienced how hard this institution will fight to keep from paying workers what they deserve, from custodial staff to full professors. You can see in the image above the wisdom that U of I unions have earned the hard way, that to get a fair deal, a strike has to at least be on the table. SEIU is currently bargaining four contracts, but the tone-deaf display at last Thursday’s meeting leaves little hope for an amicable and timely resolution. Given recent history, a strike authorization seems to be required before U of I will even start talking about a fair deal–if you’re a worker.

Even Our Best and Brightest
While some reap magnificent rewards simply for doing their jobs, others are not even able to keep the rewards they’ve won for exemplary work recognized by the university! The highly competitive Teaching Recognition Program awards a handful of best-in-class faculty each year with a permanent bump in their base pay.

Since our first contract, which raised up the base of many NTT faculty, UICUF has repeatedly had to intervene because UIC administrators refuse to add the value of the award to the new base. One of our lowest paid members has had this happen twice! After fighting and winning it back during our first contract, we are at it again – this time for two of our faculty members, whose rights we defended this week in a grievance at Level 3 (Provost). To justify their miserly position in the hearing, the administration stuck with a different definition of base – one that arbitrarily nullifies award-based raises if a faculty member later gets a raise-to-minimum salary increase. The administration’s decision de facto harms lower-paid faculty, and simultaneously gives a painfully honest assessment of how they truly value excellence in teaching: only at their own convenience.

Despite both having excellent records, characterized by consistently going above and beyond what is expected (and we know that the bar keeps rising), and having been publicly honored by UIC, the university is actively fighting to give these faculty less than they’ve earned. Why should these faculty have to grieve to just keep what they have earned and rightfully deserve? Adding insult to injury, the value of both awards, carried over their whole career won’t amount to a fraction of what UI President Killeen was just given for even a single year of his new contract. Needless to say – but we will anyway — the U of I Board needs to seriously reflect on their priorities.

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We issue regular updates via email, FacebookTwitterYouTube, 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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