Contract Bargaining

23 Apr Faculty to Vote on Contract After Reaching Tentative Agreement

  • UICUF reached a tentative agreement on contracts, narrowly averting a strike
  • Contract must be ratified by membership, signed by the BOT before taking effect
  • Ratification meetings and ratification voting to be held on both campuses

Faculty negotiators have been at the bargaining table with the administration for nearly a year now, trying to forge the fair contract that our members and UIC students deserve. As of Monday afternoon, we believe we have won that contract. Team members signed a tentative agreement with administration, effectively ending negotiations, and locking in terms that will now go to union membership and the UI Board of Trustees for ratification.

UICUF will hold meetings this week where members can see the full contract, hear from the bargaining committee, ask questions, and vote on ratification. Additional ratification voting will take place next Monday and Tuesday. Faculty should plan to attend and vote at one of the following times/location:

Thursday 4/25:
East Campus Ratification Meeting 11-12:15 @BSB 145
West Campus Ratification Meeting 3:30-5 @SCW Thompson A

Friday 4/26:
2nd East Campus Ratification Meeting 4-5:30 @BSB 145

Monday 4/29 – Tuesday 4/30:
Voting stations open 10-5 @UH, SEO, Public Health.

We believe we have secured the best possible contract for our members in this round of negotiations, but it has become clear that more work lies ahead. As long as the underlying funding formula for the UI system remains as it is today, UIC students and the educators who serve them will continue to be shortchanged. As we’ve seen so many times since forming this union of UIC faculty, it’s never too early to start looking at the next challenge ahead.

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23 Apr Press Release: UIC Faculty Win Contract, Avoid Strike

UIC Faculty Avoid Strike
Workplace rights and increased minimum salaries among key wins for union

CHICAGO – After nearly a year of bargaining, the union representing University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) faculty have reached a tentative contract agreement with the administration. Faculty previously authorized a strike, which would have begun tomorrow.

Aaron Krall, bargaining committee co-chair for UIC United Faculty (UICUF), said, “This contract will create an improved work environment for our faculty, and improved learning conditions for our students.”

The union secured key wins in this agreement, including increased minimum salaries and greater job protections for non-tenure track faculty.

“I am particularly excited about new policy protections for our Non-Tenure System faculty, who are integral to the teaching, research and service at UIC. This contract represents significant wins in an ongoing fight for the resources needed to fulfill UIC’s mission,” said Janet Smith, UICUF president.

The contract contains a 4 percent total raise pool per year, and includes specific funds set aside to target faculty equity and compression, which has increased in recent years due to a decade of underfunded salaries. The remainder of the pool is awarded for merit and will be distributed to faculty based on yearly performance reviews.

Kevin Whyte, bargaining committee co-chair, said, “The bargaining process has revealed systematic problems in how UIC is funded. We plan on working to correct these issues in future years.”

Over 90 percent of UIC students are Illinois residents. More than 70 percent of our students remain in Illinois after graduation, contributing to UIC’s position as an economic powerhouse in the state. UIC directly contributes $7.6 billion per year to the state economy (or 1 percent of the state’s gross product).

The UIC United Faculty (Local 6456) represents all full-time tenure and non-tenure track faculty at UIC. UICUF is affiliated with the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

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18 Apr Bargaining Update 4-17-19

Dozens of members observe bargaining between UICUF and UIC Administration.Dozens of members observe bargaining between UICUF and UIC Administration.

  • UICUF negotiators win longstanding proposal strengthening progressive discipline protections
  • Merit raise figures and protections for NTT reappointment remain outstanding issues that must be settled to avert a strike next week
  • Bargaining:  Tomorrow, 2:30-5pm, at Student Center East, White Oak Room AB
  • Sign up for picket line shifts here

We cleared some issues off the table today at bargaining, including one of our earliest proposals strengthening positive progressive discipline procedure with clear steps and protections for NTT faculty. Both sides also moved closer on merit raises. UICUF negotiators proposed a 2%|4%|4% merit schedule over three years, and admin countered by moving on this issue for the first time since bargaining began, offering 2%|2%|2%.

The new willingness by admin to move on merit comes with just one scheduled bargaining session left before a potential faculty strike next week. This is a trend in the right direction, but final merit raise figures are still under serious debate, and we are also still seeking stronger reappointment protections for our NTT faculty.

Bargaining will resume tomorrow, 2:30-5pm, at Student Center East, White Oak Room AB. Again, this is the last currently scheduled session before a potential strike next week, so members are highly encouraged to attend, observe, participate in critical caucusing with the team, and make strike signs.

Lastly, with the strong possibility that a strike could be called next week, we have set up a picket sign-up form. Members should sign up for as many shifts as they are able to attend if a strike is called, in lieu of your usual work activities.

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Our strike hashtags are #UICFacultyStrike #FairContractNow #Solidarity.

Until we win a fair contract, we will be issuing regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and here 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 can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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17 Apr Bargaining Update 4-16-19

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In bargaining today, we came willing to move on most of the non-economic issues still left unsettled, in the hope that we could reach agreements and move closer to finishing these negotiations. For a final deal to be reached, though, administration will need to move on merit and the NTT reappointment process. On these core issues, we have seen no meaningful movement on management’s side.

Tomorrow, we will be back for another round of negotiations, and discussion of the money proposals still in play. If you haven’t been to a bargaining session, now is a great time to see the process at work. All members joining us will have the opportunity to participate in our caucuses between negotiating with the admin team.

Tomorrow’s bargaining session will be from 1-4pm, at Student Center East, Ft. Dearborn Room. The session will be followed by a guest lecture from distinguished labor activist and organizer, Jane McAlevey, 4-6pm at the UIC Institute for Humanities, 701 S Morgan St.

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Our strike hashtags are #UICFacultyStrike #FairContractNow #Solidarity.

Until we win a fair contract, we will be issuing regular updates via email, FacebookTwitterYouTube, and here 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 can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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28 Mar Bargaining, Mediation, and Strike Developments

Faculty and Grad Workers picket together as our unions negotiate for fair contracts. Photography by Soohyun Kim.

Faculty and Grad Workers picket together as our unions negotiate for fair contracts. Photography by Soohyun Kim.

  • UICUF met with Admin under federal mediation, offered a new comprehensive proposal
  • Proportional moves narrow gaps in negotiating positions, but major differences remain
  • Faculty continue to support GEO strike as we contemplate our own strike authorization  
  • Contact your College Rep to weigh-in/learn more about potential strike authorization vote
  • UIC GEO Rally: Joint faculty/grad action Mon, 12-1pm, 4/1 @East Campus Quad


A New Phase of Negotiations
UICUF and Administration negotiators met with a federal mediator for the first time this Tuesday, marking a new phase in faculty contract negotiations. Mediation is typically sought as a way to continue making progress when negotiations become more difficult or contentious. The mediator’s role is to act as a neutral third party, while helping to broker an agreement both sides can live with.

In this first meeting with the mediator, we presented the Admin team with a newly updated comprehensive proposal, covering every outstanding article under negotiation, to get the ball rolling. Within this proposal, we:

  • Moved proportionally on raise pools (down 1% from 2nd year merit pools in return for Admin coming up .5% on 2nd and 3rd year Compression & Equity pools)
  • Replaced contract language creating a 3rd rank for Instructors/Lecturers with a side letter agreeing to reopen the issue, pursuant to Senate consideration of the subject
  • Agreed to Admin commitment on limiting the use of student evaluations in isolation

 

Admin acknowledged our movement largely without comment, and did not offer any other movement of their own in this session, leaving the ball in their court on all outstanding proposals. As such, no new articles where TA’d, and despite narrowing gaps in several areas, our key positions remain far apart, especially on compensation. In addition to fair raise pools, faculty are seeking protections for health/retirement benefits, a commitment to hire new tenure-line faculty, and clear procedures for discipline, dismissal and addressing academic freedom violations.

GEO Strike Continues, Faculty Strike Vote Remains Under Consideration
Our grad worker colleagues remain on strike as Administration refuses to discuss limits on student fees or other money issues. Grads have garnered a major influx of support, both internally from departmental faculty and student resolutions, and externally from national groups and Bernie Sanders. Faculty can refer to our Faculty FAQs for information about rights and responsibilities during the strike. UICUF members are encouraged to join the GEO rally at 12pm Monday, 4/1 in the East Campus Quad to show our solidarity.

UICUF organizers and volunteers, meanwhile, are continuing to have one-on-one conversations with colleagues about the potential for our own strike authorization vote. Though negotiations are still fluid at this time, the distance between the two sides, particularly on pay and equity issues, remains large. From the hundreds of conversations we’ve had with faculty thus far, there is a growing concern that a fair contract won’t be reached without putting the possibility of a strike on the table.

As we discussed last week, a strike authorization vote is the first step toward being able to strike, but does not guarantee a strike will happen. Once a strike has been authorized through a vote by the membership, it is up to the bargaining team to decide whether to call it based on what is happening at the table. Authorizing a strike is one of the strongest tools union members have to exert pressure on management at the bargaining table, and it is crucial for every member to vote so that the results are an accurate representation of what the full membership wants. Members and non-members who want to weigh in or learn more, are encouraged to reach out to your College Rep or our Executive Board.

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Until we win a fair contract, we will be issuing regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and here 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 can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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21 Mar Faculty Bargaining Continues Amid Grad Worker Strike

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  • Faculty win concessions at the table as grad strike pressure mounts, mediation looms
  • Admin’s financial offers remain disappointing, as does the reasoning behind them
  • UICUF members increasingly support striking, authorization vote now being considered
  • Bargaining Session #20: Observe/caucus with our team, 2-5pm, 3/26, @SCE, Rm 603


Wins at the Table
In our 20th bargaining session the administration brought us counter positions that actually showed movement on their side! As a result, we were able to sign two more tentative agreements and a side letter that include:

  • Course loads and class sizes to be defined through shared governance at the department/program level
  • Commitments to provide all faculty with appropriate office space
  • Commitments to expanded access to lactation rooms and gender neutral bathrooms
  • Reporting on implementation of safety provisions related to the new evening class schedule


Strengthening shared governance has been a central issue for us this year, and contractually codifying its role in defining workloads is a major milestone. We believe this will protect faculty from unilateral, uncompensated workload increases because they must now be included in such decisions.

An “Interesting” Financial Offer
Admin negotiators also moved slightly on money articles. While there was no movement from their merit pool (2%, 1.5%, 1.5%), they did up their offer by 1% on Compression/Equity pools over the life of the contract. However, they also invited our team to reconsider separating this CE pool from Market/Retention. Of course to change what they have offered us would be regressive bargaining (replacing a previous offer with something less favorable) so it was just a discussion, and an interesting one in which the Admin argued that 1) some faculty don’t deserve raises, and 2) that compression/equity issues could be completely addressed within a year.

What this suggests is that some faculty deserve to get poorer, and that an intrinsically uneven system of merit raises won’t continue to produce equity or compression issues over time. Most faculty agree that merit is important, but the Compression/Equity pool is meant to address its inherent shortcomings. Regardless, UICUF believes the best tool for retention is a consistently robust merit pool, which currently sits below inflation figures, and which admin so far has refused to grow.

Movement Amid Growing Pressure is No Coincidence
These agreements aren’t gifts. They are the result of over 9 months of negotiations, and increasing pressure on administration to drop their uncooperative stance with both faculty and grad workers. Grads began their indefinite strike Tuesday morning, hours before this session, and mediation for our negotiations will begin next week. While faculty and grad negotiations aren’t technically related, the mutual support our unions have demonstrated has clearly had an effect at the bargaining table.

Mediation and Strike Authorization
Our next bargaining session will be conducted through a federal mediator. This is a step that indicates the process is not yielding satisfactory results for either side. Despite progress at the table this week, it did not come without pressure including our refusal to bargain against ourselves. While we hope mediation will help us mutually move toward a comprehensive agreement, we are at the point where we must consider the possibility of more direct action to win a fair contract.

Over the last three weeks, union members have been discussing the negotiations one-on-one with each other. What we have heard overwhelmingly indicates members would authorize a strike if a vote were called. For most, it is believed that this may be the only way to move the administration toward agreement on a fair and just contract.

To this end, UICUF is moving toward holding a strike authorization vote the week after spring break. A strike authorization vote is the first step toward being able to strike, but does not guarantee a strike will happen. Once a strike has been authorized through a vote by the membership, it is up to the bargaining team to decide whether to call it based on what is happening at the table. Authorizing a strike is one of the strongest tools union members have to exert pressure on management at the bargaining table, and it is crucial for every member to vote so that the results are an accurate representation of what the full membership wants. Members and non-members who want to weigh in or learn more, are encouraged to reach out to your College Rep or our Executive Board.

***

Until we win a fair contract, we will be issuing regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and here 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 can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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13 Mar Decision-Makers and Priorities: The Board and The Contract

20181203_UICUF_003

  • Admin negotiators may bargain with the union, but the Board ratifies the contract
  • Faculty and grads still getting nickled and dimed while Admin plans massive expansion
  • Board must consider priorities – agree to a fair faculty contract that supports UIC growth
  • Rally/Picket – “Don’t Make Us Strike!”: 11:30-1pm, 3/14, @UH, East Lawn, rain or shine

 

Who are We Bargaining With, Really?
If you follow our posts, you probably have a good idea of what contract negotiations look like. Faculty and Administration negotiators meet, bringing forward proposals and counter-proposals, trying to shape the next faculty contract. But where does the power on the other side lie, really?

Our bargaining team is empowered to negotiate a contract based on member input, which is then voted on by the members. On the Admin side, the Board of Trustees votes to ratify any agreement Admin brings back from the table. The Board may also guide negotiating priorities.

Nickled and Dimed
In the current round of negotiations, Administration has so far danced around non-economic issues, and has insultingly low-balled faculty on money issues. Grad workers, who are negotiating their own contract, have received similar treatment and are on the verge of a strike.

It’s especially frustrating to haggle over relatively small amounts at the table, when a $1 Billion dollar plan for new facilities is being promoted simultaneously. New buildings are important to a growing university, but they don’t educate students, or do research. People do that. As Admin and the Board plan vast expenditures on new construction and deferred maintenance, they must make parallel investments in human capital. New tenure-track positions will be needed, and the deferred maintenance of faculty salaries has to be addressed as well. The Board sets the tone for these priorities, and we hope they’ll consider a more holistic approach to growth.   

Demand Better
The Board of Trustees has a powerful say in Admin’s bargaining disposition. They will be meeting tomorrow, and we have a message for them: “Don’t make us strike just to get a fair contract!” It’s high time the Board took its human capital more seriously, and we will rally and picket to remind them of that: Thursday, 3/14, 11:30-1pm @University Hall.

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Until we win a fair contract, we will be issuing regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and here 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 can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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06 Mar We Shouldn’t Have to Strike to Get a Fair Contract

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  • Grad workers ready to go on strike indefinitely, as faculty negotiations go to mediation
  • Fraught relations with unions are a reminder of UI System’s history of provoking strikes
  • Faculty to rally and picket, appeal to UI BOT: “Don’t make us strike to get a fair contract!”
  • SIGN-MAKING PARTY: w/free pizza! Mon, 3/11, 5-7pm @UIC Latino Cultural Center
  • RALLY AND INFO PICKET: Thurs, 3/14, 11:30am-1pm @University Hall


History Repeats Itself
At our last negotiating session, the Administration team agreed to join us in seeking mediation, acknowledging the deep divide that remains between the two sides. Meanwhile, grad workers, who’ve bargained for a year without meaningful progress on their most important issues, have resoundingly authorized an indefinite strike. Provoking mediation and strikes is not a negotiating record to be proud of, yet this seems to be the UI System’s standard operating procedure. Just last year, grad workers at UIUC were forced to go on strike to protect tuition waivers, and win fair raises. Before that, faculty at UIS, UIUC, and here at UIC, all had to strike to get their first contracts. While not surprising, it is disappointing that UI’s labor relations strategy has once again brought one union to the brink of a work stoppage, while our own union is forced to consider a similar route.

Time to Turn the Page
With that clear pattern of behavior looming over our negotiations, UICUF is making a strong appeal to the UI Board of Trustees, and our Administration, to change the narrative. New board members will be taking their seats on the UI Board of Trustees next Thursday, and letters from the union are already in the mail welcoming them, but also laying out clear expectations that they must do better for unionized workers at all our campuses. It is high time to turn the page on the toxic stance the UI System has taken towards its employees.

To ensure this message is heard, we will have a rally and informational picket at UIC, as the board meets in Urbana. Our goal is to change the status quo, in favor of a more collegial future. To reach that future though, UIC’s unions need fair contracts now. The rally will be held Thursday, 3/14 at 11:30am outside of University Hall, followed by a picket at noon. Members and allies are encouraged to join us in sending the message to the BoT and Administration: “Don’t make us strike to get a fair contract!”  

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Until we win a fair contract, we will be issuing regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and here 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 can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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28 Feb UICUF Commitments and momentum: Update on 2/22 bargaining session

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  • UIC’s budget presentation overlooks investment in faculty.
  • Administration admits to not planning for the economic future of UIC faculty.
  • Both sides agree to move forward with third-party mediation.

 

Dear members,
On Friday we had our 18th negotiation session with the Administration team. Over 40 UIC faculty from across campus attended as observers and caucused with the bargaining team. The experience was as eye-opening as promised, although no counter-proposals were offered by the Administration team, and no TA’s were reached.

Questioning commitments
The session opened with a budget presentation describing UIC’s funding lines and budget priorities, which included a plan for deferred maintenance, but not for deferred investment in faculty. For many of the faculty present, the presentation raised as many questions as it gave answers: How much does the education of a UIC student really cost? Why aren’t they fighting for the BOT and state to fund the education of UIC students? If the paradigm never shifts, is the admin ready to accept the same financial conditions faculty have accepted for the past decade?

We were told in negotiations that university administration is committed in principle to improving faculty working conditions that ensure continued student and faculty excellence, but at this moment in time, administration will not commit to action.

  • They will not commit to every member of the UIC faculty having office space.
  • They will not commit to ensuring every faculty member enjoys academic freedom through clear and transparent processes in which faculty voices play an important role.
  • They will not commit to long-deferred raises that will finally bring salaries in line with rising inflation costs that have essentially created pay cuts for many faculty during past austerity.

 

Gaining momentum
It is our position that in this time of growing enrollments, increased economic prosperity, and a growing national and international reputation, more gains for faculty must be won to continue the  institution’s momentum and progress. We will not accept a contract that does otherwise. On Friday, the administrative team agreed to third-party mediation, which is an important step toward the contract we all deserve.

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Until we win a fair contract, we will be issuing regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and here 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 can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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