Know Your Contract

08 Jun Contract Bargaining Continues: Get to Know Your Contract!

  • U of I System announces 2022 salary program: Similar to past practice, administration refuses to grant merit-based salary raise pool to UICUF members.
  • UICUF Bargaining team met with UIC admin for 4th session: The power of GEO’s strike continues, as admin accepted Article IV revisions that mirror the new GEO contract and rejected our attempts to take their wins farther.
  • Get to know your contract: Article XV of our faculty contract discusses processes in matters of faculty Discipline.

University-wide 2022 salary program announced

On May 31 System President Tim Killeen announced a 3.5% merit-based raise pool for the U of I system. In line with past practice, the announcement stated that members of collective bargaining units would not be a part of this pool until contract negotiations were concluded. 

Withholding campus salary raises from the bargaining unit is not a necessary part of the contract negotiation process.  Without a doubt it is a choice made by the administration as a part of their negotiation tactics. We are particularly concerned that this decision, this year, shows a great disrespect for faculty, given our struggles with inflation and, even more, our substantial collective sacrifices during the pandemic. 

That said, we wish to remind members that in the past our contracts have always used the salary program as a baseline for our raise pool–which we will demand be applied retroactively to faculty salaries upon the completion of the new contract


Contract Bargaining Updates

The UICUF bargaining team met with the administration bargaining team for a fourth session on Monday. Last session we submitted five articles for consideration: 

  • Article IV. Non-Discrimination
  • Article XV. Discipline and Dismissal
  • Article XVI. Labor Management Meetings
  • Article XVII. Access to Personnel File
  • Article XVIII. Grievance and Arbitration 

Our proposals for Article IV. Non-Discrimination mirrors the language of the current GEO contract with a few important changes. Thanks to the incredible work of our GEO colleagues who struck for eight days to win significant protections for survivors, the administration team offered us nearly everything that GEO won in their last contract. However, they rejected our additional proposals, including timely notification of faculty who are the subject of an OAE complaint, a clearer definition of and condemnation of workplace bullying, and removal of the “responsible employee” designation for faculty to support survivors’ right to decide when and how to report misconduct. 

 We also continued to discuss Article XVI (Labor Management Meetings), Article X (Academic Freedom) and Article XI (Governance). A central issue in all of these articles is increasing our ability to collaborate with the administration through greater faculty and union representation in important decision-making committees and direct access to top administrators. While we did not resolve our disagreements on these issues, we had a productive discussion. 

Get To Know Your Contract
UIC UF Faculty Contract (2018-2022)
Article XV. Discipline and Dismissal (NTT Version)

A. The University may discipline, suspend, or dismiss a non-tenure track system bargaining unit member prior to the end of their appointment term for just cause. 

B. The University and Union agree with the principle of positive progressive discipline intended to correct deficiencies when possible, and that a reasonable process under the circumstances is required to impose discipline for just cause. Progressive discipline is based on the idea that as offenses occur appropriate discipline will be administered in a progressive manner.  The parties acknowledge that discipline might not be progressive if the offense is sufficiently serious.  

C. The levels of progressive discipline for bargaining unit members are (1) verbal counseling, (2) letter of warning, (3) suspension, and (4) dismissal.

D. In cases of disciplinary verbal counseling the unit head must inform the non-tenure track system bargaining unit member that they are receiving a verbal counseling and must provide the reasons for the verbal counseling. 

E. A unit head shall convene a pre-disciplinary meeting if discipline other than a verbal counseling is contemplated, and notify the non-tenure track system bargaining unit member in writing of the purpose of the meeting at least two (2) days in advance of the meeting. The non-tenure track system bargaining unit member shall be given the opportunity at or before the meeting to rebut the reasons for the contemplated discipline.

F. Non-tenure track system bargaining unit members have the right to Union representation throughout the disciplinary process, including during any investigatory interview that may reasonably lead to discipline.

G. Except for purposes of determining a pattern of behavior, letters of warning will remain in effect for purposes of progressive discipline for only two full consecutive semesters.

H. Situations in which a faculty member is placed on paid leave pending the conclusion of an investigation shall not be considered discipline.

I. A non-tenure track system bargaining unit member may utilize the Grievance and Arbitration procedure set forth in this Agreement to appeal any discipline, suspension or dismissal issued under this Article.  If the arbitrator fails to sustain the University’s action, they may not award any remedy (e.g., compensation, reinstatement, reappointment) for time beyond the terminal date of the appointment during which the non-tenure track system bargaining unit member was disciplined, suspended or dismissed.  Any award of back pay shall not exceed the amount the faculty member would have earned from the date of suspension or dismissal to the end of the term of appointment. 

This article from the non-tenure track contract establishes a protocol for positive progressive discipline in disputes between faculty and administrators related to perceived deficiencies in faculty workplace performance. Positive progressive discipline is a formative process that is intended to correct deficiencies and give faculty opportunities to develop before discipline resulting in professional harm occurs. Letters D through H articulate what each of the 5 levels of action entails.

When an issue with faculty performance is identified by an administrator, the administrator must first address the issue verbally with the faculty member. This does not mean an informal elevator conversation. Verbal counseling must begin with a statement by the administrator that the conversation is a part of the formal progressive disciplinary process, as well as an explanation of the cause for the counseling and a recommended action for resolution. Upon the receipt of a verbal counsel, faculty should contact union representation–all faculty have the right for union representation at any and all stages of the disciplinary process. If the deficiencies are perceived to continue, the faculty member, a union representative of their choosing, and the supervisor must meet so that the faculty member has an opportunity to rebut or question the perception of deficiency. A written letter of warning enumerating the problems must be provided at least two days before the meeting, giving the faculty member the chance to understand the complaints and gather information. 

If the situation escalates, and a faculty member is placed on suspension, the suspension itself cannot be considered punishment and should be paid pending the outcome of a formal investigation presumably following university policy. It is only after these steps have been observed that dismissal is a potential outcome of faculty disciplinary processes. 

Our proposals for this article in the new contract include further articulation of these steps and protections. We hope to ensure that in cases where non-faculty entities, such as the Office of Access and Equity, are part of the process that the faculty member is included in all communications between that entity and their supervisors and that these entities cannot determine punishment of faculty. Our final and most important proposal for this article is to include this language in the Tenure-Track version of our contract. Right now there is no specific protocol for tenure-track faculty in disciplinary situations. For pre-tenure faculty, the lack of a clear process for normative development and progressive discipline is not only a clear danger, but an oversight in regards to the mentorship and support of junior faculty. The university and its executive officers have the responsibility to mentor and develop faculty in meaningful ways, and we envision this policy as a way to ensure faculty have the opportunities to develop when problems arise. 
 

In Solidarity,
The UIC UF Bargaining team

Xochitl Bada (Associate Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies) | Aaron Krall (Senior Lecturer, English) | Andy Baker (Clinical Assistant Professor, Music) | Anna Kornbluh (Professor, English) | Becky Bonarek (Lecturer, Tutorium in Intensive English) | Charitianne Williams (Senior Lecturer, English) | Gosia Fidelis (Associate Professor, History)  | Ian Collins (Clinical Assistant Professor, Daley Library) | Jim Drown (Senior Lecturer, English) | Jeff Gore (Senior Lecturer, English)  | Jennifer Rupert (Senior Lecturer, English, Gender and Women’s Studies) | Kate Floros (Clinical Assistant Professor, Political Science) | Kate Lowe (Associate Professor, Urban Planning and Policy) | Kevin O’Brien (Clinical Associate Professor, Library of the Health Sciences) | Kevin Whyte (Professor, Math, Statistics, and Computer Science) | Laurie Quinn (Clinical Professor, Biobehavioral Nursing Science) | Paul Preissner (Professor, Architecture)

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20 May UICUF Contract Negotiation: Bargaining Update 

  • UIC UF Bargaining team met with UIC admin for 3rd session: UICUF presented 5 articles for discussion
  • Get to know your contract: Article X of our faculty contract discusses processes in matters of faculty Academic Freedom.

Bargaining Updates
The UIC UF Bargaining Team met with the Administration team yesterday. We presented proposals developing Article IV. Non-Discrimination; Article XV. Discipline and Dismissal; Article XVI. Labor Management Meetings; Article XVII. Access to Personnel File; and Article XVIII. Grievance and Arbitration. Administration is expected to respond to our proposals at our next meeting in approximately 3 weeks.

Contract bargaining is currently taking place on Zoom, but we do hope to meet for in-person sessions soon. Union members are invited to observe sessions and collaborate with the bargaining team during caucuses. You can find out about upcoming sessions and other union events by following the UICUF calendar here or emailing UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

Get To Know Your Contract
UIC UF Faculty Contract (2018-2022)

Article X, Academic Freedom

  1. It is the policy of the University to maintain and encourage full freedom within the law of inquiry, discourse, teaching, research, and publication and to protect any member of the (tenure/non-tenure) track system bargaining unit against influences, from within or without the University, which would restrict the member’s exercise of these freedoms in the member’s area of scholarly research and interest. 
  2. As a citizen, a faculty member may exercise the same freedoms as other citizens without institutional censorship or discipline. A faculty member should be mindful, however, that accuracy, forthrightness, and dignity befit association with the University and a person of learning, and that the public may judge that person’s profession and the University by the individual’s conduct and utterances.
  3. A faculty member who believes that they do not enjoy the academic freedom which is the policy of the University to maintain and encourage shall be entitled to a hearing on written request before the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure of the campus Senate.  Such hearing shall be conducted in accordance with established rules of procedure.  The Committee shall make findings of facts and recommendations to the President and, at its discretion, may make an appropriate report to the Senate.  The several committees may from time to time establish their own rules of procedure.
  4. Any substantive dispute under this Article shall be resolved under Article X, Section 2 (d), of the University of Illinois Statutes
  5. Any procedural dispute under this Article under the control of a party to this Agreement shall be resolved under the Grievance and Arbitration procedure in this Agreement, and any such grievance decision thereunder shall be limited to providing a remedy correcting a process error.

Our union contract does not debate what constitutes a violation of academic freedom–that matter is handled by University Policy, U of I System Statutes, and most directly, the UIC Senate. Instead, this article makes clear that faculty do have academic freedom in matters of scholarship and teaching.

In cases where faculty feel their academic freedoms have been violated, members should immediately contact their union representative or email UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com, for advice and support in submitting a written request to the UIC Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure.

Our proposals for this article intend to make violations in the handling of academic freedom cases–such as discipline occurring prior to a UIC Senate hearing–fully contestable and grievable. While university policies exist, we have observed a wide range of administrative responses that are not consistent with those policies. Currently, bargaining unit members have no recourse when university policies are not followed. Therefore, we are pushing to include the language of those policies, including the UIC Student Academic Grievance Policy in Article X, in order to make the failure to follow policy fully grievable through the Union. So far, the administration’s bargaining team has refused to acknowledge the importance of holding UIC accountable to its own policies in this way.

In Solidarity,

The UIC UF Bargaining team

Xochitl Bada (Associate Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies) Aaron Krall (Senior Lecturer, English) Andy Baker (Clinical Assistant Professor, Music) Anna Kornbluh (Professor, English) Becky Bonarek (Lecturer, Tutorium in Intensive English) Charitianne Williams (Senior Lecturer, English) Gosia Fidelis (Associate Professor, History)  Ian Collins (Clinical Assistant Professor, Daley Library) Jim Drown (Senior Lecturer, English) Jeff Gore (Senior Lecturer, English)  Jennifer Rupert (Senior Lecturer, English, Gender and Women’s Studies) Kate Floros (Clinical Assistant Professor, Political Science) Kate Lowe (Associate Professor, Urban Planning and Policy) Kevin O’Brien (Clinical Associate Professor, Library of the Health Sciences) Kevin Whyte (Professor, Math, Statistics, and Computer Science) Laurie Quinn (Clinical Professor, Biobehavioral Nursing Science) | Paul Preissner (Professor, Architecture)

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06 May Bargaining for New Faculty Contract Begins

UICUF Bargaining: Get to Know Your Contract

  • Bargaining is in full swing: UICUF and Administration TA 7 articles.
  • Get to know your contract: Article I of our faculty contract outlines scope and purpose.
  • Only members of UICUF vote to ratify the faculty contract: Join the union to make your voice heard.

Join UIC United Faculty 
We would like to notify all UIC faculty that bargaining for the next faculty contract has begun. Continued updates concerning bargaining will be sent to UIC UF members only–you can join today and take part in this important process. Membership in the faculty union allows you to attend bargaining sessions, share input with the Bargaining Committee, and ultimately vote on whether to accept the contract they bargain. You may sign up here, or contact us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

Bargaining for our next faculty contract
The UICUF and UIC administrative bargaining teams met for the second time this week. The beginning of the season is often uncontroversial as both sides work to determine a process for moving forward and describe their goals for the next contract. As outlined in our bargaining platform available on the UICUF website, our proposals emphasize:

  •  Support & Security for Faculty
  • Accountability & Care in the Workplace,
  • Amplifying Faculty Voice in Shared Governance 

One important item accomplished at this past meeting was reaching Tentative Agreements on 7 articles. Tentative Agreements (TA) are a mechanism in the process where both sides agree to accept the article under discussion. Discussion on that article is then assumed to be closed, and generally can’t be reopened. 

Bargaining is currently taking place on Zoom, but we do hope to meet for in-person sessions soon. Union members are invited to observe sessions and collaborate with the bargaining team during caucuses. You can find out about upcoming sessions and other union events by following the UICUF calendar here.  

Get to Know Your Contract
We would like to focus our communications this summer bargaining season on UIC faculty workplace rights as outlined in our contract and discuss changes to the current contract your bargaining team is proposing. To this end, there is nowhere like the beginning for a place to start. Article I, Purpose is one of the articles TA’d this week:

UIC UF Faculty Contract (2018-2022)
Article I. Purpose
The purpose and intent of this Agreement is to provide for an orderly collective bargaining relationship and the promotion of sound and mutually beneficial relations between the Union, on behalf of bargaining unit employees, and the University.  This Agreement is intended to establish and make clear the wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment of bargaining unit employees and to provide a procedure for the equitable resolution of grievances as required by terms of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act.

While this text could be considered boilerplate, it is a legitimate articulation of what our union contract is to accomplish. The contract represents an agreement between the membership and the administration, but also a plan for all members of the UIC community to handle workplace scenarios in a fair, transparent, and consistent manner. Contracts are certainly a protection for faculty, but ours also provides protocols and guidance for how workplace disagreements should be handled by supervisors and upper-level administrators.

Our contract connects us with a larger system of justice and protection, explicitly the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, which recognizes the unique situation of education workers and the impact their working conditions have upon the Illinois public. In Fall 2021, 81% of UIC’s 34,199 students were permanent residents of Illinois–our working conditions are their learning conditions, which makes our contract an important part of maintaining the intellectual, cultural, and economic future of Illinois. 

In Solidarity,

The UIC UF bargaining team

Xochitl Bada (Associate Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies) | Aaron Krall (Senior Lecturer, English) | Andy Baker (Clinical Assistant Professor, Music) | Anna Kornbluh (Professor, English) | Becky Bonarek (Lecturer, Tutorium in Intensive English) | Charitianne Williams (Senior Lecturer, English) | Gosia Fidelis (Associate Professor, History)  | Ian Collins (Clinical Assistant Professor, Daley Library) | Jim Drown (Senior Lecturer, English) | Jeff Gore (Senior Lecturer, English)  | Jennifer Rupert (Senior Lecturer, English, Gender and Women’s Studies) | Kate Floros (Clinical Assistant Professor, Political Science) | Kate Lowe (Associate Professor, Urban Planning and Policy) | Kevin O’Brien (Clinical Associate Professor, Library of the Health Sciences) | Kevin Whyte (Professor, Math, Statistics, and Computer Science) | Laurie Quinn (Clinical Professor, Biobehavioral Nursing Science) | Paul Preissner (Professor, Architecture)

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12 Dec Decisions Subject to Shared Governance

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  • Some decisions at the academic unit level MUST be subject to shared governance per our union contract.
  • In addition to review by an Advisory or Executive committee and/or vote of the full faculty, many of these policies must comply with specific standards across the university.
  • UICUF leaders and staff are available to work with members on understanding and applying shared governance rights in your units. Contact UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com if interested.

 

Last week we discussed some of the rudimentary structures of shared governance at the academic unit level, such as the requirements that all units have accessible bylaws and elected advisory or executive committees. This week we will consider the types of decisions our latest contract mandates be subject to shared governance at the academic unit level, and what guidelines those processes must follow.

Our contract, as well as university statutes, have always indicated situations in which shared governance MUST be applied, like the curriculum, faculty hiring, and standards for tenure, and promotion. Other decision making processes commonly incorporate shared governance by tradition if not contractual obligation. To ensure that faculty are able to get the most out of their right to participate in shared governance, we highlight three new issues below.

Defining Workloads
Per the new UIC United Faculty contract, every academic unit is REQUIRED to set a workload policy through shared governance processes. This is something university negotiators strongly resisted, and we had proposed this precisely because we had seen areas where administrators had been imposing increased teaching loads unilaterally. In some areas this will take assertive action, and UICUF leadership and staff stand prepared to assist you with implementation. Specifically, per Article XII.B of the faculty contract, these policies must “include a teaching statement that sets clear expectations for the teaching assignments, including course load and class size.” Moreover, these expectations can’t be changed without review via shared governance, so they can’t be updated unilaterally by administration without consultation.

Evaluation Criteria
Annual evaluations are another area for shared governance that units need to (re)visit in light of our latest contract. Our contract reiterates prior university policy that there be “a formal process that is open and equitable,”  and goes on to establish that “student evaluation data shall not be considered in isolation….” The specific criteria included in teaching evaluations in your unit will depend upon what you determine through the shared governance process, though its important to remember that UIC does have guidelines on evaluations that must be followed.

NTT Reappointment
New to our contract this year is the requirement that all units have procedures written into their bylaws that govern the reappointment of non-tenure track faculty. We have seen some cases in the past where a lone administrator made what appeared to us an arbitrary decision to not reappoint a faculty member. This decision making ought to be guided by clear policies, and be accountable to faculty.

But isn’t it All “Merely Advisory”?
The exact nature of the shared governance process will differ from unit to unit, based on what faculty think they need, but must ultimately involve decisions/recommendations being made by a vote of the full faculty, or by an elected Executive/Advisory Committee. Processes and resulting policies must be transparent and accessible to faculty. As the above matters are contractual obligations for university administration, failure to set such policies through appropriate shared governance principles is a contract violation which could be grieved by the union.

We understand that being “advisory” does not assure an executive officer for a unit will follow what faculty develop. However, we believe that the fact that the administration resisted contract language requiring shared governance in setting workload policy indicates that they do take it seriously. And we know that for most units on our campus, these things in fact do matter to many administrators. It is our responsibility to bring forward these requirements and self-organize our faculty to get them implemented. We have seen how the shared governance process can be an effective means for organizing your colleagues, and UICUF leaders and staff can help advise and support you around the specifics of your issues and processes.

If you have questions about how assert your rights to shared governance driven decision-making, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

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We issue regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and on our website. We encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. If you want to contribute your story, pictures, video, or other content related to the activities of the union, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com. With your support, we are making UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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12 Sep Know-Your-Contract Collection

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  • UICUF is dedicated to helping faculty understand their rights under the union contract
  • Our Know-Your-Contract Series details how the contract applies to faculty’s everyday work life, and is also available via our website
  • UICUF will offer department-specific Know-Your-Contract workshops this fall. To request a workshop for your department, contact us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

 

Over the Summer, we’ve posted a variety of updates on how the new contract affects faculty day to day. We’ve now compiled this Know-Your-Contract series under the links below so that you can easily navigate to the topics that are most important to you.

Since the contract relies on faculty knowing and asserting their rights, especially in the use of shared governance to set department policies, we will be offering Know-Your-Contract workshops on a department-by-department basis this Fall semester. Workshops can be tailored to the specific circumstances of your department, so contact us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com if you would like to set one up for yourself and your colleagues.

Here is a summary of the Know-Your-Contract postings on our website:

ACADEMIC FREEDOM
One of the most important, but also hotly debated concepts in academia today, we explain specifically what our contract and the UI statutes have to say about academic freedom, how it is protected, and how we can further strengthen these important rights.

 

APPOINTMENT AND REAPPOINTMENT
Reappointments are a big deal, especially for NTT faculty. A key element of our new contract was to speed up time to muti-year appointments, and improve the notification process. Learn about your rights regarding multi-year appointments, when they should be applied, and when you are entitled to know about your appointment status each academic year.

 

DISCIPLINE AND DISMISSAL
A detailed explanation of your rights in the discipline process, including the right to union representation, expectations of due process, and what each step of that process should look like.

 

EVALUATIONS
Learn about your right to a timely, transparent, and appropriate annual evaluation, how they should be performed, how student input can and can’t be used, and what these evaluations should and should not be used for.

 

GRIEVANCES
While we hope not to have to file them often, grievances are the backbone of contract enforcement. This is the formal process by which faculty, with assistance from the union, can seek redress for breaches of the contract. Learn how the grievances work, including your rights, what you should do if you think you have cause to file, and what to expect from the process.

 

LIFE-CHANGING EVENTS
Though this set of rules is most commonly associated with a new child entering the home, it can also cover you if your family is impacted by a terminal condition or untimely death of a loved one. Learn about your rights under FMLA, and the extension of accommodations under existing UI System policy.

 

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FUNDS
A deep dive into Professional Development funds, including guaranteed amounts, and how to use them.

 

RAISES
Extensive information on how pay raises are determined, including the types of raises (Minimums, Merit, Compression/Equity, Promotions), the role of shared governance in deciding pay increases, use of guaranteed Professional Development funds, and how retro pay will work. Note that the university has advised that retro-pay will be distributed in October paychecks at the time of this writing.

 

TECHNOLOGY
Technology is central to the work of a modern university, and our new contract has a lot to say on the subject. Learn more about faculty rights to university provided computers, in-classroom technical support, and even a bit about the intersection between classroom tech and intellectual property rights.

 

WORK LOADS
The new contract specifies a role for shared governance in defining work loads in each department. Learn more about how those definitions should be created, what must be covered in these definitions, and how your work expectations are protected from abrupt changes mid-contract.

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We issue regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and on our website. We encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. If you want to contribute your story, pictures, video, or other content related to the activities of the union, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com. With your support, we are making UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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15 Aug Know Your Contract – Life-Changing Events

  • All full-time faculty experiencing life-changing events are entitled to modified duties for up to 1 semester
  • This option is available in addition to the use of any paid leave you have accumulated at UIC, and/or unpaid leave under FMLA
  • Eligible circumstances include a new child entering the home, as well as a terminal condition or death in the immediate family
  • This entry refers to article VI.B of the 2018-2022 NTT contract and TT contract, university policy FPPG Section 501, and the Family & Medical Leave Act
  • TAKE ACTION: Welcome new faculty to UIC, afternoon of August 21st. Sign up here.

 

Faculty have a right to these accommodations, but since the laws and university policies governing them are broadly defined, the exact outcomes may differ depending on your circumstances. Also, given the mix of policies involved, thinking this through to best meet your needs can be a challenge. We have members experienced in navigating these policies who are able to assist you and advocate for you, so please reach out at UICUnitedFacultly@gmail.com for assistance.

What Qualifies as a “Life-Changing Event”?
Per university policy FPPG 501, in the context of eligibility for modified duties a Life-Changing Event is defined as one of the following:

  1. A new child enters the home 
  2. A spouse/partner, child, sibling, or parent is diagnosed as having a terminal illness and requires intensive life-saving treatment or is in the end stages of the illness
  3. Death of a spouse/partner, child, sibling, or parent

So, while this type of policy is usually associated with the birth of a child, it’s actually significantly more expansive. It’s also important to note that these qualifying events aren’t open to debate or interpretation by your supervisor. If you fall into a qualifying category, they MUST work with you on accommodations if that’s what you want.

These circumstances are also typically eligible for consideration under the Family & Medical Leave Act, FMLA, which grants expanded options for taking paid or unpaid leave.

When/How Long Can I Take Modified Duties?
You are entitled to modified duties for up to 1 semester, typically within 12 months of the event in question. This can be in lieu of, or in addition to other leave you intend to take in relation to these circumstances, including paid or unpaid leave under the FMLA.

Under the FMLA, you’re entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, some or all of which can be substituted with any paid leave you have at your disposal. At UIC, using paid leave time in this way is optional. So you might use the two weeks of paid sick days you have, a week of paid vacation time, and then take up to 9 additional weeks unpaid leave. You cannot be denied this time, nor can you be penalized, disciplined or fired for taking it.

What Does “Modified Duties” Mean?
Under university policy, you have to be given accommodations that make it possible for you to continue working in alternative capacities to those you normally perform.

There are some qualifications here. First and foremost, modified duties should be something you actually can do given your current circumstances. Equally important, you will keep your full pay. Your modified duties also should not entail a greater work commitment than what you are already doing, so you can’t be asked to replace two classes with 40 hours of administrative duties, for example.

Beyond this, there is a great deal of flexibility in what might be considered as modified duties. This is owing to the fact that work across departments and job titles at a major university are incredibly diverse, and typically require case-by-case solutions. Typical alternate tasks often include research or service responsibilities for Tenure Track faculty, or various administrative duties for Non-Tenure Track faculty. Depending on your circumstances, the modifications might be as minimal as scheduling all of your on-campus duties on the same day to simplify balancing care-giver responsibilities. You and your unit executive officer can get creative with it, as long as the solution you arrive at is mutually agreeable.

Lastly, though it is not required, it’s not uncommon for a unit executive officer to forgive up to one class worth of work time for a semester.

What Is FMLA?
FMLA is the Family & Medical Leave Act, which grants an array of rights and protections to people experiencing life-changing events like those described above. We touched incidentally on some aspects of FMLA, but it is a complex law, and we aren’t going to be able to describe all of its implications here. You can visit the FMLA area of the Department of Labor website for more detailed information on this law.

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We issue regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and on our website. We encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. If you want to contribute your story, pictures, video, or other content related to the activities of the union, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com. With your support, we are making UIC an even better place to work and learn!

 

 

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08 Aug Know Your Contract – Grievances

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  • Grievances are a formal way to seek redress when the university violates the contract.
  • UICUF can assist in securing informal resolutions where possible, but faculty should still be mindful of the 30-day deadline to file a grievance.
  • We recommend faculty consult with UICUF ASAP to assess and preserve your options.
  • UICUF will NOT file a grievance on your behalf without your consent.
  • This entry refers to Articles XVIII of the 2018-2022 NTT contract and TT contract
  • TAKE ACTION: Welcome new faculty to UIC, afternoon of August 21st. Sign up here.

 

Today, we’re talking about grievances, both as they are described in our contract, and as they work in reality. Grievances can be intimidating, especially if you are in a situation serious enough to potentially warrant one, but they are also an important mechanism for enforcing the contract and empowering members when informal efforts fail. The first thing to remember when you’re in such a situation is that you are not alone; your union is here to help.

UICUF strongly recommends that faculty consult with a union representative as soon as possible if they believe they have cause to file a grievance, or are unsure of how to proceed. Given the complexity of the grievance process, and the unique nature of each individual grievance, this segment should be used for reference only and should not be considered a substitute for professional assistance by your union. You can reach UICUF via your own college representative or via our general email address, UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com if you prefer.  You can also feel free to contact Chief Steward Robert Johnston (History) at robert.douglas.johnston@gmail.com. It is best to use a non-UIC email account for these communications.

What Exactly Is a Grievance?
In the context of our union contract, a grievance is a formal method for addressing contract violations. According to Article XVIII.A:

A grievance is defined as a complaint filed by an employee, a group of employees, or the Union alleging that the University breached a Section or Sections of this Agreement.”

As stated, faculty, or the union itself, can file a grievance. It should also be noted that faculty can file with or without the participation of the union, though UICUF does not recommend proceeding without professional support. The UI system also has its own grievance procedure, which may be pursued instead of, or in parallel to, a contract grievance.

What If I’m Uncertain Whether My Concerns Are Grievable? Can UICUF Still Help?
Yes! UICUF can offer assistance to members on a variety of issues, including ones that never rise to the level of filing a formal grievance. Indeed, a majority of requests for assistance that the union receives never result in a grievance being filed. The best thing to do if you have an issue you’re uncertain about is to contact UICUF as soon as you are able. This is both to help you assess your options, but also to ensure that your option to file a grievance is preserved against filing deadlines.

How Long Do I Have To File A Grievance?
According to Article XVIII.D, there is a 30-day deadline for filing a formal grievance from the time the issue/incident occurred, or from the time when it should reasonably have been discovered. This means its critically important that you consult with UICUF immediately if you think you have such an issue. While a formal grievance may not be the best way to proceed, if you wait too long, it may no longer be an option.

If I File A Grievance, How Long Will It Take To Be Resolved?
How quickly a grievance is resolved is highly variable. Some cases are settled almost immediately, but many more take months. In general, a grievance must be filed at Level 1–the  academic unit level. Appeals after that include Level 2 (Dean) and Level 3 (Provost/University Labor Relations). Level 4, the final level, involves an impartial third-party arbitrator.

As you might expect, all of this can take a lot of time and effort, which is one of many reasons our union seeks informal solutions where possible. When a formal grievance is necessary, however, it’s important to bear in mind that resolution may take considerable time.

What CANNOT Be Grieved (And What Else Can Be Done)?
There are a number of issues explicitly described in our contract which cannot be addressed through the grievance process. Most commonly, these include determinations of pay/raise amounts, unfavorable evaluations, decisions not to offer promotion/tenure, or the findings of academic freedom inquiries.

HOWEVER, the processes by which the above kinds of decisions were arrived at are indeed grievable. So, while you cannot grieve, say, the amount of your merit raise, you may be able to grieve an inappropriate decision-making process. In this example, that may be a failure to perform an annual evaluation necessary to determine merit increase. That would in fact be a violation of the contract.

What If I Just Need To Talk Something Out?
Even if a matter is not formally grievable, UICUF representatives are often able to offer suggestions or provide support in difficult or unjust professional circumstances. You should never hesitate to reach out!.

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We issue regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and on our website. We encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. If you want to contribute your story, pictures, video, or other content related to the activities of the union, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com. With your support, we are making UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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25 Jul Know-Your-Contract Mid Summer Roundup

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  • UICUF completed contract negotiations this Spring and our 2018-2022 NTT contract and TT contract are available online for your review.
  • Our Know-Your-Contract Series is also available via our website, and will continue through the summer to help explain your contract rights.
  • UICUF will offer department-specific Know-Your-Contract workshops this fall. To request a workshop for your department, contact us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.
  • Save The Date: Help welcome new faculty to UIC, the afternoon of August 21st.

 

As most readers will know, UICUF completed negotiations for new faculty contracts this past Spring, after a prolonged bargaining process and a last-minute deal to avert a strike. If you haven’t done so already, we highly encourage our members to visit our website and review or download your new contract.

In addition to publishing the actual contract language on our website, we’ve committed to an ongoing effort to help our members actually understand what that contract means for their day-to-day lives. To that end, we’ve published a series of Know-Your-Contract articles this summer on various topics of interest to our members, and will continue the series through the end of the summer.

Beginning in the Fall semester, we will also be offering Know-Your-Contract workshops on a department-by-department basis. In particular, many of our contractual rights must be asserted and maintained through shared governance (example: defining work load expectations), and the 2018-2022 contract adds new dimensions to faculty rights through these principles. Union staff, officers, and volunteers will be available to help members ensure that their departments are fully informed about their rights. If you would like to schedule a workshop for your department on a particular subject, or simply for an overview and discussion of these rights, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

In the meantime, here is a summary of the Know-Your-Contract topics we’ve covered so far:

KNOW YOUR CONTRACT – RAISES
Extensive information on how pay will be determined, including the types of raises (Minimums, Merit, Compression/Equity), the role of shared governance in deciding pay increases, use of guaranteed Professional Development funds, and how retro pay will work. Note that retro-pay is still being calculated at the time of this publication.

KNOW YOUR CONTRACT – PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FUNDS
A deeper dive into Professional Development funds, including guaranteed amounts, and how to use them.

KNOW YOUR CONTRACT – DISCIPLINE AND DISMISSAL
A detailed explanation of your rights in the discipline process, including the right to union representation, expectations of due process, and what each step of that process should look like.

KNOW YOUR CONTRACT – EVALUATIONS
Learn about your right to a timely, transparent, and appropriate annual evaluation, how they should be performed, how student input can and can’t be used, and what these evaluations should and should not be used for.

KNOW YOUR CONTRACT – WORK LOADS
The new contract specifies a role for shared governance in defining work loads in each department. Learn more about how those definitions should be created, what must be covered in these definitions, and how your work expectations are protected from abrupt changes mid-contract.

KNOW YOUR CONTRACT – APPOINTMENT AND REAPPOINTMENT
Reappointments are a big deal, especially for NTT faculty. A key element of our new contract was to speed up time to muti-year appointments, and improve the notification process. Learn about your rights regarding multi-year appointments, when they should be applied, and when you are entitled to know about your appointment status each academic year.

KNOW YOUR CONTRACT – ACADEMIC FREEDOM
One of the most important, but also hotly debated concepts in academia today, we explain specifically what our contract and the UI statutes have to say about academic freedom, how it is protected, and how we can further strengthen these important rights.

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We issue regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and on our website. We encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. If you want to contribute your story, pictures, video, or other content related to the activities of the union, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com. With your support, we are making UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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18 Jul Know Your Contract – Academic Freedom

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Faculty have begun receiving NOAs expressing 2018-19 pay increases, and these increases should be reflected in your July paycheck. Retro pay owed to faculty for August ’18 to June ’19 is still being processed, and we will inform you ASAP as to when you can expect this payment.
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  • Academic freedom and individual freedom of speech are broadly protected in our contract and UI Statutes
  • Seeking remedies for potential violations of these principles presents unique challenges
  • Regardless of remedies specific to violations of academic freedom, inappropriate discipline may be grievable under the union’s current contract language.
  • Want to work on these issues directly? Join our Committee on Shared Governance and Academic Freedom, or our Senate Caucus. UICUnitedfaculty@gmail.com for more info.
  • This entry refers to Articles X, XI and XV of the 2018-2022 NTT contract and TT contract

As many of us recently celebrated the 4th of July, commemorating our freedom from kings and foreign powers, we wanted to discuss another important set of freedoms specific to the academy. These, of course, are collectively known as academic freedoms, and it will probably come as no surprise that they are very important to faculty at UIC. In fact, it was one of the most popular issues in our 2017 bargaining survey, with 62% of respondents regarding it as a major priority for the union and university, second only to the protection of tenure lines. Delving into the comments section of that survey, however, revealed that there is a lot of disagreement about what exactly academic freedom means, and what it should protect.

This segment of our Know Your Contract series will address what specifically is in our contract, and what you can and can’t do if you feel your academic freedom is being violated. There are myriad other resources on this topic, including the UI Statutes, and the authoritative AAUP statement on academic freedom and tenure, if you want to learn more about how the UI system and the academic community define these critical freedoms. As we will discuss, there are unique challenges involved in addressing violations of academic freedom. However, we encourage you to contact us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com if you have such concerns, particularly if they involve inappropriate disciplinary action.

What does our contract have to say about academic freedom?
Article X.A essentially acknowledges and restates university policy:

“It is the policy of the University to maintain and encourage full freedom within the law of inquiry, discourse, teaching, research, and publication and to protect any member of the bargaining unit against influences, from within or without the University, which would restrict the member’s exercise of these freedoms in the member’s area of scholarly research and interest.”

Here we get a broad claim of protection for academic activities, with some specificity to a faculty member’s area of scholarly research. Article X.B further affirms basic freedom of speech principles, with a notable word of caution:

“As a citizen, a faculty member may exercise the same freedoms as other citizens without institutional censorship or discipline.  A faculty member should be mindful, however, that accuracy, forthrightness, and dignity befit association with the University and a person of learning, and that the public may judge that person’s profession and the University by the individual’s conduct and utterances.”

So you can theoretically say what you want in context as an individual, let’s say on your personal social media account, but the university makes explicitly clear that they don’t have to like it. And herein is the tricky part….

What If My Academic Freedom Is Violated?
Currently, you can report academic freedom violations, such as being censored or disciplined by the university for expressing a particular view or opinion, to the University Senate. Per Article X.C of the contract:

“A faculty member who believes that they do not enjoy the academic freedom which is the policy of the University to maintain and encourage shall be entitled to a hearing on written request before the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure of the campus Senate.  Such hearing shall be conducted in accordance with established rules of procedure.  The Committee shall make findings of facts and recommendations to the President and, at its discretion, may make an appropriate report to the Senate.  The several committees may from time to time establish their own rules of procedure.”

Reading this, you might quickly notice that there is no mention of actual remedy should the committee assigned to investigate find that a violation took place. In fact, there is no suggestion that the person making the complaint will even be informed of the findings of this committee. The only guarantee is that the committee will make a report to the university President. There is no requirement for either the President or the Senate to act on the committee’s findings.

Is There Anything Else I Can Do If I’m Disciplined Inappropriately
While there isn’t a lot of comfort to be found in the article on academic freedom itself, we do have some remedies available for members who feel they’ve been inappropriately disciplined in violation of their academic freedom. Specifically, if action is taken against a faculty member, our new language on discipline in Article XV of the contract requires that discipline take a certain form, which must be progressive and transparent (so it should be clear you are being disciplined, and why). If faculty are disciplined in a way that is counter to this due process, in violation of academic freedom or for any other reason, a grievance may be filed on this basis. Thus, it’s possible to fight inappropriate disciplinary action that contravene academic freedom, regardless of the senate’s findings.

Can We Do Anything To Bolster Academic Freedom Protections?
If you find the protections offered by current university policy to be less than convincing, you are not alone. While we fought to add both more transparency, and meaningful remedies to this process via our contract, Administration was adamant that these issues can only be decided in the University Senate. This is among several issues we intend to pursue in the Senate, and we are now in the process of developing a Senate Caucus to address concerns that were not remedied through contract negotiations. We also have a Committee on Shared Governance and Academic Freedom which is charged with the task of monitoring the state of academic freedom across the university, and educating faculty on their rights. If you want to get involved, either by joining the Committee or the Senate Caucus, please email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

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We issue regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and on our website. We encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. If you want to contribute your story, pictures, video, or other content related to the activities of the union, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com. With your support, we are making UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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11 Jul Know Your Contract – Appointment and Reappointment

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  • Improved guidelines around appointments/reappointments means greater job security for NTT Faculty
  • New contract provides advanced letter of appointment – First notification deadline June 1, fall-back deadline July 16
  • Contract also reduces time to multi-year appointments, requires timely evaluations of faculty
  • This entry refers to Article IX of the NTT contract.
  • Rules for Tenure Track appointments can be found in the TT contract and UI Statutes

 

UIC United Faculty is keenly aware that appointment and reappointment procedures are at the core of defining job security for NTT faculty. In particular, reliable notification timelines, and multi-year appointments can give faculty peace-of-mind, while creating a more collegial atmosphere where faculty feel comfortable and secure in their positions. To maximize stability for our members, our new contract improves upon several aspects of the appointment/reappointment process.

In an effort to give faculty greater clarity on rights regarding the appointment/reappointment process, we’ve answered some of the most common questions and misunderstandings below. If you have further questions, or specific concerns about the implementation of these contractual rights, contact us ASAP at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

When Should I Be Informed That I Am Being Reappointed?
Academic units should inform NTT faculty by June 1st of each year whether you are being reappointed to your position. HOWEVER, an academic unit may choose to postpone this notice until as late as July 16th (this deadline is improved over the August 1st deadline in our previous contract). In the case of postponement, the academic unit still needs to inform you by June 1 that they have opted to postpone their decision.

If you do not receive your notice in a timely manner, contact us ASAP at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

Should I Expect A Letter Of Reappointment If I am Part Way Through a Multi-Year Appointment?
While some departments may choose to give reappointment letters to faculty in the middle of a multi-year appointment, they are not required to do so. If you are, for example, going into year 2 of a 3 year appointment, you may not get a new letter. You should still receive a Notice of Appointment from the Board of Trustees in August for the current academic year, though this notice won’t necessarily note your multi-year status.

When Am I Eligible For A Multi-Year Appointments?
The timeline to receive multi-year appointments have changed under the new contract. After four years of consecutive employment, OR upon promotion, whichever comes first, NTT faculty will get at least a two-year appointment. After six years, an NTT faculty member will get at least a three-year appointment. If the maximum appointment length changes in the UI statutes (currently three years), anyone on a three-year appointment will get the new maximum upon their next reappointment. An NTT faculty member can be offered longer appointments up to the current 3-year maximum set by university statute at any time, at the discretion of their academic unit.

These multi-year appointments cannot be withheld, nor can timelines be extended for any reason, provided that the individual is consecutively employed for the requisite number of years, and is reappointed for the new term.

While this significantly improves job security, it is not the same as tenure, and does not guarantee reappointment.

Do Title Changes Affect My Time Towards Multi-Year Appointments?
No, under the current contract, title changes do not reset the clock toward multi-year appointments or promotions. This includes conversion from a visiting to a permanent position, so time spent as a visiting faculty member will count toward your multi-year appointment and promotion timelines, per Article IX.A.4 of the NTT contract.

Am I Entitled To An Evaluation?
Yes, all full-time (51%+ appointment) faculty are entitled to a formal and transparent evaluation each year. This should give NTT faculty a clear idea of where they stand, and provide data for merit, promotion, and reappointment decisions. See our earlier Know Your Contract article on evaluations for more details on how they should work.

Where Are Reappointment Procedures Specified?
Reappointment procedures MUST be outlined in your unit bylaws under Article IX.B.1 of the new contract. If an academic unit does not currently have a written policy, it is their responsibility to develop one. Contact your department/division/college for more information about unit bylaws regarding the reappointment process. If your unit refuses to provide such policies, contact us ASAP at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

Where Can I Find This Information In My Contract?
Contractual rights regarding appointment and reappointment are described in both non-tenure track and tenure track contracts, which can be viewed on our website. Specific references to the rights described above are found in the NTT contract, Article IX: Appointment, Reappointment, Promotion, Layoff, and Recall.

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We issue regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and on our website. We encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. If you want to contribute your story, pictures, video, or other content related to the activities of the union, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com. With your support, we are making UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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