Strike

19 Mar Faculty FAQ on Grad Worker Strike

Last week, we released initial guidance to faculty on how to conduct yourselves during a potential grad worker strike. Naturally there were many follow-up questions, so here is an FAQ that we hope will help answer some of them. Please email UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com if you have questions beyond what is covered here!

How should I discuss the strike with my GA’s/TA’s?
While some contact on the subject of the strike may be unavoidable, we strongly recommend that faculty not discuss the strike with their TA’s/Ga’s. It is unlawful to encourage or discourage participation in union activities (including membership, striking and other actions), and likewise is unlawful to inquire about individual grad workers’ intentions to participate. Finally, it’s unlawful to surveil or record the names of grad workers participating in union activities.

Given these realities, it is best to avoid even the appearance of interference, by simply not engaging in discussions of the strike with grad workers where possible. Grad workers who seek your input or ask specific questions about the strike should be directed to contact UIC GEO and/or their department administrators.

When is it okay to cross a picket line?
While it is permissible to enter a facility when pickets are not active UICUF urges faculty to honor active grad worker pickets unless absolutely unavoidable. This includes crossing lines to access your own office or lab. You should follow your own department/college guidelines to relocate or reschedule classes, exams, etc. to times or locations not being picketed, including online. This may require some advanced planning, and/or coordination with your department office.

If crossing a picket line is unavoidable, faculty should practice solidarity as best they can, by positively engaging with/marching with picketers before entering a picketed building, and informing them why you have to cross their line.

Can I be asked to report on grad worker strike participation?
Recording or reporting strike participation is a clear violation of grad workers’ rights to participate in a labor action free from coercion or intimidation. Such actions will likely be viewed as unfair labor practices by UIC GEO, and therefore are likely to be litigated accordingly. We have also submitted a demand to bargain over the change in working conditions. UICUF does not view a directive to record or report on strike participation as legally enforceable at this time. If you are asked to record or report on strike participation, inform UICUF immediately.

Can an Administrator ask if I Rescheduled/Relocated/Cancelled Class Because of the Strike?
No, faculty are not obligated to report why you altered your class schedule. The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act prohibits an employer from interfering, restraining or coercing employees in their exercise of rights under the act 115 ILCS 5/14(a)(1).

Asking whether an employee cancelled their class in solidarity with another strike (as opposed to because of illness, weather, poor attendance, or any other reason) is an unfair labor practice. Whatever procedure was already in place for reporting class cancellation has to stand, they cannot create a new procedure for reporting class cancellation because of the strike.

Can grad workers cover classes if there is no active picket at that time/location?
Grad workers can choose to participate in the strike, or not, at their sole discretion, regardless of picket times/locations. The work stoppage, however, is not limited to when pickets are active. Faculty should not, therefore, ask grad workers to work around the picket, or ask whether grad workers intend to withhold their labor at any time while the strike is in effect.

Do I have to cover my grad workers’ classes, grading, etc. until the strike ends?
We advise that faculty should not voluntarily cover work that would otherwise be assigned to TA’s/GA’s, so long as it does not violate department/college policies. Should department/college policy require you to cover certain work, or if you are directly ordered to do so by an administrator, we recommend that you comply within the limit of the requirement, and report it to UICUF immediately. This will help us offer guidance to colleagues in similar situations, or begin the process of pushing back if such direction is inappropriate.

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15 Mar Updated Guidance: Supporting Grad Workers on Strike

From our grad worker colleagues and fellow union members with UIC GEO, further guidance on how you can support them as they prepare to strike for a fair contract.



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UIC GRAD WORKERS DEMAND A FAIR CONTRACT NOW!

The Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) is the union representing over 1500 Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants at UIC. We have been negotiating a new labor contract with the University administration since March 1, 2018, and we have now announced our intent to strike on March 19. The administration has until then to respond with a fair contract with living wages, more take-home pay, and clear hiring policies.
Specifically, we are fighting for:

Living wages: Grad workers at UIC are among the lowest paid grad workers in Chicago, making $10,000 less than our colleagues at other Research 1 universities in the city.
Fee waivers: UIC grad workers have to pay nearly $2,000 in fees every year. That’s over 10% of our income, amounting to wage theft. We shouldn’t have to pay to work here!
Appointment/reappointment policies: Grad workers often have no idea how hiring/rehiring decisions are made, leading to favoritism, discrimination, and retaliation in our departments.

Of these the demands, the university has outright refused to give us any proposal on fee waivers and re-appointment policies, and has offered us a “raise” that does not keep up with the cost of inflation, which would actually be a pay decrease in real dollars. We deserve better.

Here’s how your union/organization can help:

Donate to/share our strike fund: We have set up a strike fund to make sure we can outlast the administration. If your union/organization could please donate to our fund and share this widely to help us get donations, that would be a HUGE help. You can also mail a check donation to the following address:

UIC GEO
C/o Noah Glaser
815 W Van Buren, Ste 203
Chicago, IL 60607

Send a statement of support: Please send your statement of support to either Jeff Schuhrke or Anne Kirkner, our co-presidents, at president@uic-geo.net or to our Executive Director Dawn Tefft at uicgeodawn@gmail.com
Join us on the picket lines: Unless the administration decides to give us a fair contract before we intend to strike, we will be out on the picket lines starting Tuesday, March 19, and every day afterwards, until we get the fair contract we deserve. We will be on the picket lines from 8:50am-4:00pm on M/W/F, and 9:20am-4:00pm on T/TH. If you can, please join us on the picket lines in solidarity with us!
Come to our rally: We are planning to hold a big rally on East Campus on March 20 around noon. Please come to support during this rally if you can.

We call on the administration to listen to our demands and build a better UIC for graduate student workers! #WeNeedGEO #WeSeeUIC #FairContractNow #uicUnionPower

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14 Mar MEDIA ADVISORY – UIC faculty to picket during U of I Board meeting

***MEDIA ADVISORY***

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UIC faculty to picket during U of I Board meeting

Chicago, IL – After sacrificing for years, members of the University of Illinois – Chicago United Faculty (UICUF) are seeking salary improvements, protection of existing benefits, and a commitment from the University to hire new tenure-track faculty to serve UIC’s growing student population.

On Thursday, March 14, 2019, UIC United Faculty will rally and picket at UIC’s University Hall, coinciding with a meeting of the U of I Board of Trustees in Urbana. The faculty union will draw attention to the extended and increasingly difficult negotiations with the administration for a fair contract.

WHO: UIC United Faculty (Local 6456), a union representing full-time tenure and non-tenure track faculty at UIC

WHAT: Rally and informational picket highlighting the University’s history of forcing strikes and a potential faculty strike vote

WHERE: UIC University Hall, 601 S Morgan St, Chicago, IL 60607

WHEN: Thursday, March 14, 2019 – 11:30 AM – Rally, 12-1 PM – Picketing

UIC faculty have been working without a contract since August, 2018. As in the past, the administration seems intent on forcing a strike before they will bargain productively. Graduate employees at UIC are currently on the brink of a strike, and faculty may soon be forced to take a strike vote if the administration continues its refusal to compromise.

Follow the UICUF on Facebook for updates.

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UIC United Faculty (Local 6456) is an affiliate of the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT).The IFT is made up of more than 100,000 teachers and paraprofessionals in PreK-12 school districts throughout Illinois, faculty and staff at community colleges and universities, public employees under every statewide elected constitutional officer, and retirees. 

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08 Mar Guidance on Faculty Conduct During a Grad Worker Strike

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The UIC Graduate Employees Organization (GEO), which represents Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants, intends to begin their indefinite strike on Tuesday March 19th, 2019 (assuming contract negotiations continue to be stalled). This guide describes how faculty can support GEO, as well as the legal rights of striking workers which must be respected.

SUPPORTING GEO DURING THE STRIKE
The following activities are both legally permissible and recommended by UIC GEO and UICUF for faculty who wish to support striking graduate workers:

  • Avoid crossing picket lines between ~9am and 4pm (detailed hours and location of the pickets below)
    • Consider alternative forms of teaching (e.g. on-line/virtual meeting)
    • Move classes to either evening hours, to an off campus location, or to non-struck buildings, if possible and allowed under your unit’s policy.
  • Don’t perform, or hire replacement workers to perform, duties assigned to TAs or GAs
  • Join GEO members on picket lines when not working.
  • Donate to GEO’s strike fund and share this link among your personal social networks.
  • Wear GEO pins, shirts and other items that demonstrate solidarity in your workplace.
  • Talk to students about why GEO is striking, including fair wages, fee waivers, and appointment transparency.


RESPECTING THE LEGAL RIGHTS OF GRAD WORKERS DURING THE STRIKE
Union membership, organizing in the workplace, and taking part in a strike are all legally protected activities. Broadly, participation in these activities cannot be punished, interfered with, restrained, or discouraged by an employer. We recommend that faculty be especially mindful of the following legal protections for striking grad workers:

  • It is unlawful to fire, discipline, or retaliate against grad workers for participating in a strike or union activity.
  • It is unlawful to ask grad workers to inform anyone in advance of participating in a strike or union activity.
  • It is unlawful to record or threaten to record the names of grad workers participating in a strike or union activity.
  • It is unlawful to discriminate against, restrain, or coerce grad workers regarding union membership or activity.  


PICKETING TIMES AND LOCATIONS

  • Picket lines will be at the following days and times:
    • 8:50am-12pm and 1pm-4pm Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays
    • 9:20am-12:30pm and 1:30pm-4:00pm Tuesdays and Thursdays
  • The buildings that will be struck between the hours of 9am and 4pm are as follows:
    • University Hall (UH)
    • Behavioral Sciences Building (BSB)
    • Lecture Centers A, B, C, D, E, and F
    • The East Campus Library
    • Grant, Douglas, Lincoln, Taft, Burnham, Adams, and Stevenson Halls (GH, DH, LH, TH, BH, AH, SH)
    • Science and Engineering Labs (SEL)
    • Science and Engineering South (SES)
    • Engineering Research Facility (ERF)
    • Education, Theatre, Music, and Social Work (ETMSW)
    • Public Health


As fellow union members, we thank you in advance for respecting the rights of organized graduate employees during any upcoming labor actions, and encourage you to lend your support outside the classroom as you are able.


If you have any questions, please email UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

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