Contract Bargaining

19 Dec Ending this Semester’s Bargaining with a Bang

UIC United Faculty's Bargaining Team caucusing with our members during a break in negotiations.

UIC United Faculty’s Bargaining Team caucusing with our members during a break in negotiations.

Tensions Boil Over (and Why That’s Okay)
It’s no secret that as time wears on, our bargaining sessions with Administration are becoming more contentious. The Administration team, for their part, appear perplexed with the pace of negotiations, claiming the ball is now completely in our court. Yet, they fail to even acknowledge the bulk of our proposals, choosing simply not to offer written counters despite demanding numerous rewrites from our side. This is not how we – or most people for that matter – bargain over a complex and nuanced written contract. In addition, faculty are frustrated with the low-ball salary numbers we’ve been given. That sentiment has only been exacerbated by claims that the Administration has no money available for more, because they have to choose their battles when seeking funding from the system. In translation, that seems to mean that they’ve chosen to pressure the union into accepting their meager merit raise offer, rather than ask the U of I system to adequately fund faculty salaries at UIC.

With all of these misgivings swirling about, it was hardly surprising that the situation exploded Monday, in plain view of the nearly 30 faculty members who came to observe the proceedings. Faculty members, who testified on a range of issues, expressed their distaste for what they see as Administration’s time-wasting and contrarian bargaining tactics. The Administration team, in turn, accused UIC United Faculty of acting and bargaining like a group of assembly-line workers, a shockingly tone-def attack on our identity as workers. 

Barbs were exchanged. Voices were raised. A recess was called. And then we all came back to the table and got on with the tough business of negotiating.

It may sound crazy, but that’s okay. Some things needed to be said, and we feel the bargaining process will proceed, if nothing else, more honestly for having this frank exchange.

In the aftermath, we feel that we have now made it very clear that we are unimpressed with the contention that Administration’s hands are tied on funding faculty raises. We also think they have finally gotten the message that we don’t intend to walk away from our non-economic priorities. This was underscored by faculty speaking their minds, and making sure concerns about workload and other matters are taken seriously.

Governance is Not a ‘Management Right’
One faculty member’s testimony, in particular, poignantly addressed the fine line between governance and management. Historically, faculty have enjoyed shared governance in US institutions of higher education, meaning that they advise on matters affecting their work, and have a direct say in areas like curriculum. Lately though, some UIC administrators have been appropriating exclusive rights over what faculty feel should fall into the realm of shared governance.

Workload is a prime example. Administration believes that assigning work is a management right, and to some extent that may be true. However, UIC United Faculty contends that setting standards for such assignments should be a collaborative process in which shared governance is applied, working through the unit’s advisory or executive committee. A Dean may ultimately make the final decisions, but shared governance means that faculty are consulted. It means that faculty have input. It means that faculty have a voice, even if it is not the final say on the subject. And having a voice does matter!

As an immediate example, faculty in Applied Health Sciences last year were faced with a unilateral decision by their Dean to increase their course loads without a corresponding increase in pay. With the union’s help, they were able to push back and re-engage the process of shared governance, before the new policies took effect. Their voice mattered, and using it made a difference, even if final decisions technically still lie in the hands of an administrator. Such critical decision-making, however, shouldn’t have to rise to this level of imposition and outrage for faculty to be consulted, which is why our proposals on expanding shared governance matter so much.  

A Silver Lining
With so much tension in the room, we’re actually fairly pleased with the outcomes. Administration, to their credit, came back to the table after our recess, offering to submit a written counter to our workload proposal. That matters because, to date, Administration has been keen to point out why they think our proposal language doesn’t work, but won’t accept rewrites they themselves asked for, and won’t offer their own. Getting counter proposals in writing has been something the union has pushed for since the earliest days of bargaining, and now it appears we will get that.

Next Semester
This was our last meeting of the semester. We will resume after the break at a date and time to be determined. However, we do have one imminent event which you should keep in mind for January. On January 31st, the U of I Board of Trustees will return to UIC for another board meeting. Administration negotiators have squarely pointed to budget constraints as a reason they won’t offer more robust salary figures, and the Board controls that budget. You can do the math here on your own, we’re sure, but suffice it to say, the union will be looking at possible activities around the board meeting on January 31st. We figure the Trustees may need to be reminded that faculty aren’t going to accept raise figures that fall below inflation, while massive administrative bonuses and capital development are being funded without a care.

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

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05 Dec Building Bargaining POWER

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Power in Context
Monday was a significant day in our campaign to gain a fair contract offer from U of I Administration, but not because they’ve given significant ground. No, the import of Monday’s activities, including the bargaining session itself, and the mass demonstration that immediately preceded it, is all about context rather than content.

Power in the Streets
UICUF and UIC GEO, both currently involved in contentious negotiations with U of I Administration, started the day off with a massive informational picket. Well over 100 members of both unions showed up despite inclement weather, and marched outside of Student Center East, chanting their demands for a #FairContractNow. Picketers continued chanting, reminding Administration as bargaining began, that “We Will Be Back!” even as 30 or so faculty peeled off to observe the session itself.

This action built off of the success of our demonstration at the U of I Board of Trustees meeting last month, and earlier marches on the boss decrying union busting tactics over the summer. It was one of our largest actions to date, and we intend to continue gathering strength and taking actions like this one until a fair contract has been signed.

Power in the Meeting Rooms
Faculty and Grads have not only been flying signs and chanting slogans. Union buttons and blues are becoming a more common sight in board and meeting rooms across the university. This trend was perfectly exemplified by the dozens of Faculty Senators wearing union colors in last week’s Senate meeting, showing solidarity with the bargaining effort.

Dozens more have shown up to each of our bargaining sessions as well. They’ve had the chance to observe first hand the way that U of I negotiators equivocate, prevaricate, and demand revisions to our proposals, only to leave those proposals entirely unacknowledged in their own counters. In fact, over the last 4 sessions during which we’ve invited faculty members to observe, we’ve had over 100 individuals take us up on the opportunity, and from the sound of it, they don’t much like what they’ve seen.

In this last bargaining session, Lisa Stolley, an English Lecturer, volunteered with testimony regarding U of I’s lackluster salary proposals thus far, speaking passionately on the need for respectable professional wages for NTT faculty:

“The amount I am paid is not commensurate with what I do for UIC,” she explained. “It is clear that UIC is investing in self-improvement. Buildings are going up at warp speed, and there will soon be a UIC affiliated law school. UIC is seeking to boost its reputation as a top rate research university, yet is unwilling to invest in what is, without question, one of its greatest assets – non-tenure track faculty… What is the justification for staffing hundreds of UIC classrooms with accomplished, graduate-degreed people, but refusing to pay them a salary that can sustain a modest standard of financial wellbeing?”

Lisa’s story resonates with many faculty. Even those who have tenure positions resoundingly indicated through union surveys their non-tenure track colleagues deserve much more for their contributions to the university, amid calls for a stronger salary program in general.

Power Responds to Power
In our latest session, as in so many sessions before, the U of I negotiating team has indicated broadly that they are unwilling to give serious consideration to most of our proposals. However, we’ve noted some curious behavior since the session prior. For starters, they came to the table this time, recanting their last salary proposal before we even had a chance to ask questions, or make a counter offer. They unilaterally replaced it with a slightly improved offer, though even the new offer is still completely insufficient. Noting the picketers outside the building at the time, we do not think they simply had a change of heart, deciding to become more generous overnight.

We’ve also heard reports that administrators are speaking in department meetings about the negotiations, asserting that the union is dragging its feet, holding back a potential agreement. Perhaps from administration’s perspective, that is so. After all, we’ve consistently reminded them that we’re not agreeing to an objective pay cut for the majority of our members. We’ve rejected their blanket abdication of responsibility from addressing the myriad other issues on the table. We’ve insisted on them discussing our proposals, and treating the bargaining process and  by extension, our membership, with respect.

If holding out over basic principles, like maintaining a professional standard of living for all faculty, and making real progress on working conditions, means we are dragging our feet, then perhaps we should dig in our heels a little more firmly. It’s clear that Administration is taking notice, after all, and that is the clearest signal of all that mounting pressure is having an effect.

Power Grows With Participation
As we all know, union power in negotiations isn’t about having the best arguments, the moral high ground, or the most objectively logical proposals. It is about the participation of union members, and their willingness to fight for what they deserve. Bargaining will resume on Monday, 12/17/18, 1-4pm, at Student Center East, White Oak Room. We hope to have even more members there than we have so far. Further, member testimony has been a powerful inspiration for faculty members, and clearly gives our Administration counterparts pause when as they continue trying to brush off our negotiating positions.

UIC United Faculty’s strength is only growing, and we show that strength every time we arrive at the bargaining table with a large team behind us. If you are able to attend bargaining on the 17th, or are willing to speak on any subject under consideration at the table, please email UICUFJeff@gmail.com.

*        *        *

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

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29 Nov Giving Tuesday: Admin Asks Faculty to Give Up on Raises

UIC UNIONS UNITED_140UIC UNIONS UNITED_055UIC UNIONS UNITED_152
U of I Administration: Not in a Giving Mood
It’s been said that bargaining ideally is a give and take. No one gets everything they want, but everyone should walk away feeling like they’re getting something out of the agreement. U of I Administration seems to have missed the ‘give’ part of that equation this Giving Tuesday, however.

This past Tuesday, our bargaining team met once again with Administration, for the 12th time since beginning negotiations 23 weeks ago. We duly expected a response to the comprehensive proposal we’d handed them almost a month ago, and especially after over 100 union members demonstrated for fair contracts last week, we hoped it would at least be a decent starting point. What we got, however was not a counter proposal so much as a provocation.

As a reminder, UIC United Faculty has offered proposals that we feel are reasonable by any definition, including those asking for salary increases that catch up for lost growth during the budget impasse, and keep up with inflation over the life of the contract. We also proposed flexible solutions to critical areas of concern for faculty, including workload definitions, discipline procedures, use of student evaluations, and much more.

Administration’s response to these proposals left us hanging in almost every category, but here are the most concerning:

  • Year 1 salary increases that won’t even match inflation for 2018, let alone make up for years of lost salary growth
  • No guarantee of any merit salary increase beyond year 1
  • Failure to even acknowledge most non-economic proposals


That’s right, Administration appears to expect faculty to tighten their belts and agree to a contract that will leave almost everyone
objectively poorer than they were last year, even as they sign off on massive building projects and administrator bonuses.

Compounding this brazen approach to faculty compensation, the Administration team has offered nothing but indifference to concerns over workload policy, which we’ve proposed be handled as an issue of shared governance by departments. Administration’s taking on this stance, despite knowing that unilateral workload increases have already happened in one college and been attempted in several other departments, signals to us that they not only accept it, but expect to assign heavier loads in the future. And to round things out, regarding the vast majority of our remaining proposals, Administration has commented only to decree that they don’t think any of it belongs in a labor contract.

UICUF Demands a FAIR CONTRACT NOW!
UIC United Faculty did NOT come to the bargaining table 23 weeks ago to be handed a take-it-or-leave-it, status-quo contract. Even as a first offer, this counter-proposal is, at best, tone deaf to the needs of the faculty whose teaching, research, and service, power this university. As a union, it is our duty to fight for better salaries and working conditions in our contract, and this most certainly is not it.

UICUF plans on showing the Administration, and the public, what we think of this kind of behavior. If you are a faculty member at UIC, and you think you deserve better than stagnant salaries and indifference, now is the time to step up and take action. Here are a few of the ways you can join us in demanding a FAIR CONTRACT NOW:

  • Talk to your colleagues. Ask if they’re aware of what’s happening in negotiations.
  • Wear your union buttons and UICUF T-shirts on bargaining days
  • Join our informational picket with GEO next MONDAY, 12-2pm outside SCE
  • Attend bargaining next MONDAY, 2-5pm, SCE, Ft. Dearborn Room
  • Share your story about why merit raises and working conditions matter, at the bargaining table, and/or online


Please RSVP to
UICUFJeff@gmail.com if you can participate in any or all of the above activities!

*        *        *

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

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07 Nov What Our Labor is Worth

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

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


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

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

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*        *        *

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

WeHeartUIC - Logo

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

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01 Nov Administration’s Frightful Bargaining Position

While Halloween is over, frightening things still haunt us…

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Simply No

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

WeHeartUIC - Logo

In Solidarity,

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

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11 Oct Bargaining Update: A Turning Point

321 Action

Bargaining By The Numbers

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

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

Degrees of Difficulty

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

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

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

Weighing the Odds

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

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

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

A Turning Point

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

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

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

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

Rank and File

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

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

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

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

Remember, solidarity matters, and it starts with you!

*        *        *

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

WeHeartUIC - Logo

In Solidarity,

UIC United Faculty Bargaining Team

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

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28 Sep Bargaining Update: Solidarity Amid Halting Progress

At The Table This Week

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

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

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

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

Solidarity Beyond the Bargaining Table

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

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

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

* * *


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

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

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In Solidarity,

UIC United Faculty Bargaining Team

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

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13 Sep Not For Sale

not-for-sale

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

We won’t.


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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

WeHeartUIC - Logo

In Solidarity,

UIC United Faculty Bargaining Team

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

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06 Sep Summer ’18 Bargaining Roundup

What’s Happened So Far

A new school year may have just begun, but UIC United Faculty has been hard at work this summer negotiating a new contract with University Administration. For those just now tuning in, we wanted to offer a quick review of what’s gone on so far.

There have been 6 negotiating sessions since we submitted a demand to bargain in May.  Below are links to all of our bargaining related articles, with abstracts for those who want to catch up, but don’t have a lot of time!


UIC United Faculty Union Announces Intent to Bargain New Contract – 5/9/18
UICUF presented University Administration with our demand to bargain a new contract. We set goals of addressing

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


Bargaining Update #1: First Session Scheduled, Follow for Updates – 6/12/18
University Administration agrees to meet with us, and initial bargaining dates are scheduled.

Bargaining Update #2: Meet The Team – 6/18/18
UIC UF sets up social media and invites members to meet the bargaining team for the first time.

Bargaining Update #3: First Session Report – 6/21/18
UICUF and University Administration negotiating teams meet for the first time. Beyond introduction, we introduced:

  • Articles ready to sign with no changes
  • Articles altered solely to bring TT and NTT contract language closer together
  • Common-sense updates to our nondiscrimination language.


Bargaining Update #4: Early Tentative Agreements – 6/28/18
UICUF and University Administration teams signed tentative agreements (final, subject to ratification) on 6 articles with no changes, or non-substantive language changes. UICUF Introduces articles on Academic Freedom and Discipline & Dismissal.

Bargaining Update #5: 3rd Session Progress – 7/12/18
We signed agreements on one more set of articles with minor changes, and dug into more challenging issues of Academic Freedom and Discipline & Dismissal. UICUF agreed, after substantial discussion with local UIC administrators at the table, to rework the D&D articles with their comments in mind. We encouraged the Admin team to respond to some of our proposals directly at the next session.

Bargaining Update #6: Administration Finally Responds…Sort Of – 7/19/18
UICUF offered a revised Discipline & Dismissal proposal at the Administration Team’s prompting. The Admin Team, lead by U of I Labor Relations, answered our call for counter proposals by returning our Academic Freedom articles without acknowledging any of our proposed changes.  

Bargaining Update #7: The Football Gag – 8/3/18
The Admin Team responded to our revised Discipline & Dismissal articles by wiping out all of the changes we’d made at their own request, and presenting a counter proposal barely changed from the current contract. They proposed one original change from their side: that non-renewals be classified as non-disciplinary in all cases, and therefore not subject to grievances. UICUF presented articles to improve transparency and accountability of campus safety effort related to the new scheduling grid.

Bargaining Update #8: Defining Workload, Holding the Line on Due Process – 8/24/18
UICUF rejected Administration’s counter on Discipline & Dismissal as an effort to erode the accountability of discipline rather than strengthen it. We moved forward with presenting articles creating shared governance-based accountability for workload definitions, and transparency on the use of SIT Scores.

* * *

Our next contract bargaining session is Wednesday, September 12th. Until we get a fair contract, we will continue to post weekly articles on topics of critical interest to our membership.

For the duration of the bargaining process, we will be issuing periodic updates via email, facebook, twitter, and here on our website. We strongly encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. With your support, we can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

WeHeartUIC - Logo

In Solidarity,

UIC United Faculty Bargaining Team

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

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