Contract Bargaining

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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13 Feb UIC United Faculty Calls for Mediation

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  • UICUF Negotiators call for mediation, citing lack of progress on most critical issues
  • Mediation is intended to clarify and overcome sticking points in negotiations
  • The move underscores the urgency of addressing core issues after 8 months at the table
  • MEMBER MEETING: Wed, 2/20, 3:30-5pm @SCE, 3rd floor, Cardinal Rm
  • BARGAINING SESSION 18: Fri, 2/22, 1-4pm @SCE Tower, Rm 603


What’s Missing?
Faculty and the Administration continued having robust conversations around our proposals at the bargaining table last Friday, but something was still missing. Absent from the proceedings was any hint at compromise on some of the most consequential issues on the table, like raise pools. Admin negotiators, for example, insist on pegging merit pools to Campus Wage, which would put the figures well below inflation for the year. They simply haven’t moved an inch on raise pools, despite having returned several counter proposals on this article already. They also won’t discuss protections for health and retirement plans.

Meanwhile, Admin’s bait-and-switch tactics, like demanding repeated rewrites of discipline and academic freedom articles, only to discard them without comment, has caused deep concern among our team. We are certainly happy to see a surge of progress at the table recently, but we should have been having these conversations months ago, and are still far from an agreement.

A Call for Mediation
That’s why we have asked the Admin team to join us in requesting a 3rd party mediator to join the process. This is both a practical and technical step that we believe is necessary to move forward. On the practical side, it is our hope that a mediator will help cut through any confusion, and get negotiations on track where they have been stalling. Attempting mediation is, however, also a required step before a strike vote can be called. This move underscores the seriousness of our position in these negotiations: after 8 months of bargaining, failure to constructively address core issues is no longer an option.  

For those interested in the full briefing on bargaining, why we’ve taken this step, and what comes next, we will have an All-Members Meeting on Wednesday, 2/20, 3:30-5pm @SCE, Third Floor, Cardinal Room. RSVP to UICUFJeff@gmail.com if you are able to attend.

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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 Feb The Union is You

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As we bargain, participating in events gives you a voice in the process, and strengthens our negotiating position. Here are a few opportunities to participate in February:

  • BARGAINING SESSION 17: Fri, 2/8, 1-4pm @SCE, 3rd floor, White Oak Room AB
  • MEMBER MEETING: Wed, 2/20, 3:30-5pm @SCE, 3rd floor, Cardinal Rm
  • BARGAINING SESSION 18: Fri, 2/22, 1-4pm @SCE Tower, Rm 603
  • RSVP to UICUFJeff@gmail.com


Members Win Contracts
Across the country, unions are winning contracts that improve conditions not only for members, but for the communities they serve. From the LA teachers, who struck for fair pay and better staffing in their schools, to the Wright State faculty, who refuse to let administration’s financial mismanagement be balanced on the backs of staff and students, this movement is driven by solidarity: Regular members, with no formal union role, taking action alongside their colleagues.

Our bargaining team is doing a great job leading our own negotiations, but the participation of regular members is what will help them win the fair contract we deserve. Rank-and-file members signalled their priorities from the start of the process, and have been observing bargaining sessions, caucusing with our team, and providing testimony. It was also regular members who recently turned out en masse for informational pickets, and demonstrations at BoT meetings.

It’s Up To You
As negotiations continue, we need more union members like you to join in solidarity with this effort. Every action, from proudly wearing a UICUF button on bargaining days, to attending our next membership meeting, demonstrates our commitment to improving conditions at UIC.

We have 2 bargaining sessions coming up (2/8, 2/22), and a critical all-members meeting (2/20) on the future of our contract campaign. With Admin offering below-inflation raises, and lowering expectations on shared governance and academic freedom, we are considering all options to win the contract we deserve. Participating in union events gives you a voice in those decisions, and strengthens our collective power to win on the issues you care about most.

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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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31 Jan Negotiations Gaining Momentum, But Not Where It Matters Most

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  • MEMBER MEETING: Contract campaign check-in, 3:30-5pm, 2/20, @SCE, 3rd floor, Cardinal Rm. RSVP to UICUFJeff@gmail.com.
  • Both sides building momentum toward agreement on key issues
  • Admin still intractable on below-inflation raises, caught moving goalpost on other items


This is What Bargaining Should Look Like
Faculty and Administration negotiators had another round of meaningful movement on key issues in bargaining this Tuesday. Coming from half a year of gridlock, this is actually what we think bargaining should look like. While there still is some distance to cover, agreements to protect faculty workloads, mitigate punitive uses of our flawed student evaluation system, and raise the floor for our lowest paid faculty may be within reach.

Admin Sticks with Meager Merit Raise Proposal, Inconsistent on Other Positions
Meanwhile, Admin offered once again its same salary proposal, which is below inflation. They also refused to consider mitigating increases should the state raise healthcare costs. Their justification: we don’t have the money to provide robust raises and hire new tenure-lines. But that rhetoric doesn’t match their bargaining positions because they also have dismissed our article specifying the hiring of new tenure-track faculty. The message is pretty clear: despite plans to up enrollment by 15%, and to find $1 BILLION DOLLARS to pay for new facilities by increasing fees on students, they won’t commit to growing faculty salaries or numbers.  

Admin also moved the goalpost on academic freedom. For months, they’ve claimed the protections we’ve sought would infringe on the role of the Senate. After ensuring our proposals preserve and strengthen the Senate’s voice, however, we are now being told these protections infringe on the Board’s discretion to fire faculty. This begs the question of what academic freedom really means at UIC. Clearly we have a ways to go before finalizing this contract.

Critical Member Meeting on Contract Negotiations Scheduled
UICUF has scheduled a critical membership meeting to discuss the progress (or lack thereof) in contract negotiations. We urge faculty to attend, as important decisions on the direction of negotiations and the contract campaign will be considered. The meeting will be held from 3:30-5pm, Wednesday, February 20th, at Student Center East, third floor, in the Cardinal Room.   

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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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16 Jan Back to the Bargaining Table

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  • UICUF will return to the bargaining table this Friday
  • We will bring counter-offers on some major articles “in our court”
  • We look forward to anticipated counter proposals from the Administration’s team
  • Show your solidarity – wear your pins and t-shirts to work on Friday


A Fresh Start
UICUF will return to the bargaining table this Friday, looking forward to a fresh start on contract negotiations in the new year. There is still much work to do, with the majority of our proposals still on the table waiting for responses from the Administration’s team. We hope to see some progress, as we were promised at least one substantial counter proposal. In the spirit of moving forward, UICUF is also preparing potential counter proposals for items that are “in our court.”

Setting a Tone for Progress
Our last bargaining session became quite heated, with frustrations boiling over among faculty attendees who witnessed how unwilling the Administration’s team was to engage constructively with important union proposals.  While that frustration is understandable, our bargaining team recognizes that it can be difficult to move forward when tensions in the room run high.

With this in mind, the UICUF bargaining team believes that a more staid approach to our first negotiating session of 2019 is in order in order, to set a productive tone for what still promises to be a long process. We are asking that faculty members forego attending this Friday’s session to allow for a cool-down. Don’t worry, we will provide you an update early next week.

Show Your Solidarity and Support
Faculty are highly encouraged to show their support for a strong contract by wearing their UICUF t-shirts and pins to work this Friday. We are also still preparing for a broader contract campaign, as mentioned in last week’s update. If you want to joining the organizing committee, meeting next Tuesday, 1/22, 2-4pm at the UICUF office, or you need t-shirts and buttons delivered to you, please contact UICUFJeff@gmail.com.


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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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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.

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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

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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!

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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.

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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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