Author: Tony Floriani

21 Apr An Example of Workload Policies Created by UIC Faculty

uicufwebB

  • UICUF has recommended faculty use shared governance to adopt workload policies protected by our contract ASAP.
  • We’ve just received a copy of the newly approved workload policy for the English Department, which we hope can be used as a template for other academic units.
  • Contact us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com for assistance in requesting and/or creating policies through shared governance.

 

The current UIC United Faculty Collective Bargaining Agreements require that each academic unit have a written workload policy developed through shared governance practices. Given the uncertainty around many aspects of work due to Coronavirus, we are recommending faculty begin working on creating these policies as soon as possible. We wanted to share a quick example of one department at UIC, the English Department, which has finalized one such policy. You can view a copy of the English Department’s workload policy on our website. We’ve also reproduced this policy below for your convenience.

It is our hope that this policy can serve as a template that will help other faculty groups craft policies of their own or review policies they already have in place. If you need help initiating this process, or determining if your department already has a workload policy in place, you can reach out to us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com or to your college’s union representative any time.

UIC English Department Policy on Workloads
Tenure Track Faculty:
The standard teaching load for tenure track faculty is two courses per semester (2-2). Tenure track faculty are expected to teach a range of courses across the curriculum, 100-500-level. Class size will vary, depending on the course and course level, with smaller seminars at the 400- and 500-level and larger classes for general education courses and English major core courses. In general, though not in all cases, classes that are larger than 25-30 students will be assigned a graduate TA.

In addition to teaching, tenure track faculty are expected to carry out a substantial course of research leading to publication and to perform substantial service for the department and university. Service expectations rise in accordance with rank, with Full Professors expected to take on the greatest service obligations and responsibilities.

Faculty taking on major administrative responsibilities will be granted comparable course release, unless otherwise negotiated.

Non-Tenure Track Faculty:
The standard teaching load for non-tenure track faculty is three courses/sections per semester (3-3). Class size will vary, depending on the course and course level, but, in general, courses/sections taught by non-tenure track faculty will not exceed 25 students. In general, though not in all cases, classes that are larger than 25-30 students will be assigned a graduate

In addition to teaching, lecturers; senior lecturers; and clinical faculty are expected to perform substantial service for the department and university. Service expectations rise in accordance with rank, with Senior Lecturers and Clinical Full Professors expected to take on the greatest service obligations and responsibilities.

Faculty taking on major administrative responsibilities will be granted comparable course release, unless otherwise negotiated.

***

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!

WeHeartUIC - Logo

Read More

16 Apr Uncertainty in Academia and How You Can Prepare

uicufwebB

  • Our contract offers many protections on issues ranging from workload policies to evaluations, but faculty must take advantage of them through shared governance!
  • While we bargain the impacts of COVID19, we strongly recommend faculty review departmental workload, evaluation and reappointment policies and go to work now on creating them if they don’t already exist!
  • Contact us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com for assistance in requesting and/or creating policies through shared governance that will be guaranteed by our contract!

 

It’s no secret that academia is facing a great deal of uncertainty right now, and faculty will very likely face changes in the future that we can’t immediately predict. While UIC United Faculty has a right to bargain new contractual agreements over the impact of COVID-19, we want to remind our members that we already have a variety of tools to ensure fair treatment in these unpredictable times. Specifically, we fought for and won provisions in our current contract that give faculty the right to shape workload, evaluation, and reappointment policies through shared governance in their departments.

UICUF strongly encourages any faculty member reading this message to consider how they can ensure that their department has policies in place for workloads, evaluations, and reappointment processes. We want to further encourage you to reach out to us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com or to your college’s union representative for help crafting these policies if they are not already in place.

Defining Workload
After our current contract was finally settled, we emerged with robust protections for workloads. This was one of the hardest fought issues in our negotiation with the administration, and represents a powerful tool for faculty to exert influence over working conditions. Critically, the contract stipulates that workloads must be defined through shared governance at the academic unit level, and that once defined, they can’t be changed without faculty input. Of course, to enjoy the benefits of this contractual protection, your academic unit has to first take steps to create the policy!

In light of current conditions, we strongly recommend that even if you already have a written policy in place, you consider revisiting it. This policy should address the number and size of classes expected to be taught in a semester/academic year, as well as any administrative, research, or service duties faculty are responsible for. At this time, we also recommend considering how this policy might be used to define fair conditions for remote work.

Reviewing Evaluation Policy
All academic units are required by contract and University policy to have a written policy in place regarding how evaluations are done. Per university policy, FPPG Section 701, there are a number of things that every academic unit must include, such as self-evaluations, and the policy must be reviewed every 5-7 years through shared governance. In light of current guidance on the use of teaching evaluations, we strongly recommend faculty review their academic unit policy before evaluations are administered this semester.

Reappointment Procedures
Per our contract and University policies, reappointment procedures MUST BE DEFINED in unit bylaws. Unfortunately, many departments have not met this minimum standard. If your department has not defined this procedure, now is a critical moment to do so.

We highly encourage any faculty member reading this to get involved, and to contact your union via our general email, UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com for information and support.

 

***

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!

WeHeartUIC - Logo

Read More

10 Apr Impact Bargaining: NTT Retention and a Seat at the Table

uicufwebB

  • UICUF sat down for a second meeting with the Administration this Thursday to bargain the impact of COVID19 on faculty working conditions.
  • We’ve already won some victories over the last several weeks since bringing our demands to the Administration, and have new movement on other items, like reaffirming  intellectual property rights.
  • Despite some additional agreements around items like extending tenure clocks, we are still advocating for a broad commitment to faculty retention and for a seat at the table on decisions affecting faculty.

 

A Good Start
UIC United Faculty sat down via Zoom for our second session with the Administration Thursday, to bargain over the impact of COVID-19 on faculty working conditions. Over the weeks since we presented our demands, the Administration has updated policies or changed direction on a number of issues. Some examples include closing the library after union faculty organized against reopening under unsafe conditions, and clamping down on questionable work-from-home agreements that were being demanded by some departments.

New Agreements and Understandings
Today we secured some additional agreements and confirmed understandings on issues we’d been advocating on over the last few weeks:

  • Provost Poser agreed to proactively remind Deans of faculty members’ exclusive intellectual property rights to course content, including classes made for online delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Provost said that equipment and technology purchased to aid in online course presentation are reimbursable under the new CARE Act. If you have made such purchases, we recommend submitting those expenses to your unit head or business office ASAP with a note that they are related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Nancy Freitag welcomed suggestions from us on some alternative ways contractually mandated professional development (PD) funds  may be used while conference travel remains disrupted. If you have ideas to contribute, please send them to UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com
  • Probationary faculty can now opt-in to extend their promotion and tenure clocks by up to a year. We’ve also confirmed that this will NOT impact a faculty member’s options for roll-back or hold of their clocks for future interruptions. IMPORTANT NOTE: the first deadline for filing your extension paperwork is May 15th. Please check the above link to see if the May 15th deadline applies to you!

 

Faculty Retention
We still have a number of significant issues to work out, the most important of which is a broad commitment to faculty retention. UICUF has asked that the administration commit to re-appointing NTT faculty for the next academic year, both to protect the jobs of faculty members in this time of uncertainty, and to ensure UIC is prepared to meet student needs in the fall and beyond.

We understand that the university is in a place of great uncertainty around budgets and enrollment, but fulfilling UIC’s educational mission by retaining excellent faculty must be a top priority. Beyond protecting faculty jobs, we believe it’s critically important to plan for a future in which enrollment may rebound or even surge. The Administration should demonstrate its commitment to teaching by protecting UIC’s most precarious faculty members, many of whom teach first year classes. It is also possible that in-person courses may resume under new social distancing guidelines, necessitating more sections for the same number of students. Since the administration has expressed the importance of returning to physical classrooms and in-person, hands-on education in the future, it seems counter-intuitive not to prioritize retention of our exceptional faculty now.

A Seat at the Table
We appreciate that the Administration has had to move quickly to make important decisions in the context of the covid-19 pandemic, and that it will need to continue to do so as conditions continue to change. At the same time, UICUF leadership has conveyed to the Administration our need to be involved in that decision making in a proactive manner, so that we are not left simply reacting to their decisions, as happened with their initial decision to reopen the Library after spring break. Union representatives will bring the perspectives of front-line faculty, and they are uniquely suited to understand how changes in working conditions interact with the terms of our collective bargaining agreement. Any administrative decision affecting our working conditions or other terms of our contract must be formally bargained, but proactive consultation with UICUF before decisions are made will make that process much smoother.

We have not set a return date for bargaining, but will continue to advocate for faculty, and keep you informed of your rights.

***

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!

WeHeartUIC - Logo

Read More

08 Apr The Inequities Exposed by COVID-19 are Hardly Novel

uicufwebB

  • COVID-19 may present many new challenges for UIC, but it’s also exposing and exacerbating inequities that have been here all along.
  • As we join together to protect the health and safety of our community, unequal access to the internet, lack of practical spaces for remote work, and the precarity of both students and workers remind us that a lot of folks were struggling even before the pandemic.
  • For these reasons, we think that “back-to-normal” isn’t good enough.
  • IMPACT BARGAINING: Our first session with administration will be tomorrow morning. We will report on the proceedings in a separate update.

 

It has been several weeks since the COVID-19 crisis caused UIC to shut down most in-person activities, and the second week since classes have resumed in mostly remote formats. While the situation is far from normal, some of the initial shock has begun to wear off, and the UIC community is doing its best to get back to at least some sense of normalcy. The big problem though, is that normal for a lot of faculty, students, and staff, wasn’t that great to begin with, and conditions under the pandemic have only exacerbated many peoples’ struggles.

Some of the clearest and most intractable examples come from the stories of people trying to adjust to their new work-from-home realities. In an ideal world, we might imagine students and faculty simply going back to their comfortable, internet equipped homes, secluding themselves in their office or bedroom, and logging in to class. But that’s not the reality for everyone, or even most people.

In reality, even some of the best case scenarios are fraught with challenges, like trying to take care of and even educate children while schools are closed. And it gets harder if, for example, your school district doesn’t have the resources to make remote-learning practical. And that’s not even touching on the possibility that your home may simply not be a suitable place to work at the best of times, which these are clearly not.

For the more precarious, COVID-19 may mean your position, your funding, or your scholarship may be about to expire with no promise of renewal or apparently even much empathy from your employer. Or maybe you have to go to work knowing your work is so invisible to those in charge that they haven’t even thought about how to protect you as you come in contact with potentially sick people.

COVID-19 and the move toward remote work may be new territory for all of us, but too many of the injustices we’re now seeing really clearly have been here for a long time. Going “back-to-normal” without looking these societal issues in the face would be a grave failing indeed, even as there is great pressure to ignore anything beyond the immediate health crisis before us. But we as educators do have choices and agency in how our institutions function, and we can choose to fight for a better new “normal” than the one that came before.

While we won’t be changing the world overnight, tomorrow UICUF will be going into our first official impact bargaining sessions with the administration. We intend to push for, among other things, a much broader commitment to faculty retention, especially for our most vulnerable members. We are also working on this and other issues with our campus union coalition. Look out for more updates in the coming days.  

***

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!

WeHeartUIC - Logo

Read More

02 Apr Union Advocacy in the Wake of COVID-19

uicufwebB

  • 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.  

***

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!

 

Read More

25 Mar FAQ on Work Conditions During COVID-19 Crisis

uicufwebB

  • 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?
No. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 provides special leave provisions for COVID-19 related illness and/or caring for ill family members. The UI System has published their policy related to the Family first Act here.  This leave is good for 2 weeks up to 80 hours for full time workers. Per UIC’s Human Resources guidance on faculty leave in general, most faculty also have 13 days of sick leave per year, plus up to 12 additional days which are accrued throughout the year. Note that you only need to use leave if you are personally unable to work, not if your employer has not provided you the means to work remotely and/or safely. 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 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!

WeHeartUIC - Logo

Read More

19 Mar Transition Tips and UICUF Response During the Pandemic

uicufwebB

  • 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.  

***
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!

WeHeartUIC - Logo

Read More

05 Mar Facilities Shortcomings Highlighted by Faculty Survey

uicufwebB

  • 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.  

***
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!

WeHeartUIC - Logo

Read More

27 Feb Member Meeting Recap and Initial Survey Findings

uicufweb

  • 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.

***

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!

WeHeartUIC - Logo

Read More

19 Feb UICUF Membership Meeting and Survey Extension

uicufwebB

  • 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/!

***

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!

WeHeartUIC - Logo

 

Read More