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05 May Telework Agreements, PD Fund Deadlines, Faculty Town Hall

ADVISORY ON NEW TELEWORK AGREEMENTS:
 We are aware of the announcement of new telework options, including a telework agreement created by the university. This was not bargained with or vetted by the union and may be unenforceable if it breaches our contract. We recommend against signing such agreements without consulting a union representative first at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

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Demanding Answers on Job Security | PD Fund Reminder

  • Strong Showing for NTT Job Security: Our members and allies have written 225 letters to UIC administrators to date, imploring them to accept our demands for NTT job security and retention. You can still write your own letter via our Action Network page!
  • UIC Faculty Town Hall: Admin will hold a faculty and staff Town Hall on Thurs, 5/6, 11-12:30pm. UICUF has asked the administration to respond to our NTT Job Security demands in that meeting. You can submit questions via this link if you wish to reinforce our demands or ask about other issues.
  • Reminder on Professional Development/Travel Funds: The university’s fiscal year ends on June 30th and we strongly recommend spending any available PD/Travel funds (which can be used flexibly during the pandemic) by that date.

 

Dear Members,

Thanks to everyone who has thus far written a letter to UIC administrators asking that they agree to the union’s demands supporting NTT job security. Between our members and allies, 225 people have taken action on this important subject.  If you have not sent a letter, you can still do so by visiting our Action Network page. We are asking the administration to take the opportunity presented by this week’s Faculty and Staff Town Hall and respond to those demands, and we encourage our members to join that call and submit your own questions.

If you are interested in working more directly with the efforts to win greater job security for NTT faculty, you can sign up for our issue mailing list on this subject, or email our organizer, Sophie Bauerschmidt-Sweeney at UICUFSophie@gmail.com.

Updates/Reminders on Professional Development Funds
As the semester comes to a close and the end of the fiscal year on June 30th nears, we want to remind members to spend their contractually guaranteed professional development (PD) and travel funds. Though we are negotiating over another extension to these deadlines, we cannot guarantee an agreement will be reached in time. In order to avoid unnecessary complications in using your funds, you should plan to request them before June 30th, as well as consult with your Unit Head or Business Office to confirm timelines and get pre-approval.

Below are some answers to frequently asked questions about PD and travel funds:

How Much Funding Am I Entitled To Each Academic Year?
Our contract includes two annual funds for professional expenses: Research & Professional Development funds ($900 for TT; $600 for NTT) and Travel Funds ($600 for TT and NTT).

What Can I Use These Funds For?
Per Article A.1.c of our contract, professional development funds can be used for “research and/or teaching-related professional development.” This is typically understood to include conferences, professional memberships or training, and relevant journal subscriptions, but may be used for other purposes at the discretion of your academic unit.

Travel funds, per our contract, are reserved for travel to academic conferences, but due to the pandemic ban on travel, these funds are authorized for expanded use on purchases including home office or remote teaching equipment and traditional Research & Professional Development uses.

Do Unused Funds Carry-Over To The Next Academic Year?
Typically, no. However, because travel was disrupted due to the pandemic, unused Travel Funds from the 2019-2020 academic year were carried over to this academic year, 2020-2021. They still must be used by June 30th, 2021 to ensure that they are not lost.

Is the Union Negotiating Over PD And Travel Funds
Yes. We are still attempting to bargain over expanded use of and/or carry over of the Travel Funds for the 2020-2021 academic year.  But the university has refused to continue meeting with us at this time while unfair labor practice charges are pending–an illegal act on their part– and thus, we cannot guarantee any resolution before the deadlines to use funds.

What Should I Do If I Have Trouble Accessing My Funds?
If members are being denied the use of their funds for any reason, they can contact us for support at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

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We hold regular office hours from 12-1pm Wednesday and Thursday each week. Use the following links to add them to your calendar:
Wednesday 12-1pm | Thursday 12-1pm

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 SAFER place to work and learn!

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29 Apr Support NTT Jobs – Write to UIC Admin Now!

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Let Your Voice Be Heard – Demand UIC Admin’s Prioritize NTT Job Security TODAY!  

Dear Members,

We are calling on you and our allies to help us make it clear to UIC administrators how important non-tenure track faculty are to UIC. The administration is creating unnecessary uncertainty for NTT faculty by delaying decisions on funding for many of their positions, despite continued enrollment growth and a healthy, stable state budget.

At our town hall yesterday, we asked everyone present to raise their voices in demanding that UIC hold the line on retaining current NTT faculty, and develop a more transparent and equitable system for reappointment. Please take a moment to join your colleagues’ efforts by emailing the administration now. We have set up an automated mailing for you to use.

All you have to do is visit our Action Network Campaign Page, complete the contact form, and personalize the message if you wish, then hit SEND! Every email matters, and with all of our members acting together, we believe we can convince the administration to:

  • Maintain the current number of NTT teaching faculty positions
  • Notify all faculty of reappointment by the initial contractual deadline on or before June 1
  • Ensure transparency around budget and reappointment decisions
  • For this year, suspend the 3-year limit for visiting faculty

 

We also invite you to share this campaign broadly, with colleagues, students, and other community members. The video above was made by a few of the many undergraduate students who consider their NTT instructors to be a highlight of their UIC experience. We are grateful to have their support, as well as the support of anyone in the UIC community who wants to stand with our NTT faculty.

If you have any questions or want to get more involved, please contact our organizer on this project, Sophie Bauerschmidt Sweeney, at uicufsophie@gmail.com.

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We hold regular office hours from 12-1pm Wednesday and Thursday each week. Use the following links to add them to your calendar:

Wednesday 12-1pm | Thursday 12-1pm

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22 Apr NTT Job Security Town Hall and Fall Teaching Plans

Admin’s Announcement on Fall Planning
You likely received a Campus Announcement today outlining in greater detail the administration’s plans for teaching in the fall. We will carefully examine and respond to these plans shortly, but for now, we will simply say that they were, once again, formulated without consultation with the union, and over a preponderance of concerns expressed by both faculty and administrators. We encourage members to attend the provost’s last office hour tomorrow to give voice to your concerns while hearings over the administration’s failure to bargain continue.

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  • NTT Job Security Town Hall: All TT and NTT faculty, and students, are encouraged to join us for our NTT Job Security Town Hall next Wednesday, 4/28, from 4:30-6pm. See the flyer below for details, and come ready to discuss action! Zoom link: ly/UIC-NTT
  • Provost’s Last Office Hour: Provost Poser’s last office hour of the year is this Friday, 4/23, 10-11am. Join via zoom if you have any concerns you want to address, including refusal to bargain, fall teaching plans, or job security for academic staff.
  • Backlog on Overcomp Payments: We’ve received numerous reports that authorization for spring overcomp payments have been left in administrative limbo throughout the semester. Contact us ASAP if you are still waiting on spring overcomp pay.

Dear Members,

Our NTT Job Security Town Hall is just around the corner, and we hope everyone who’s able will join us to discuss moving UIC toward a more equitable and accountable system for retaining these vital faculty members. The Town Hall will be held virtually via zoom (link: bit.ly/UIC-NTT) on Wednesday, 4/28, at 4:30pm, and all members, both tenure track and non tenure track are welcome. Students are also welcome, and we encourage you to share the flyer with your classes. As a reminder, our major demands are:

 

  • Maintain the current number of NTT teaching faculty positions
  • Notify all faculty of reappointment by the initial contractual deadline on or before June 1
  • Ensure transparency around budget and reappointment decisions
  • For this year, suspend the 3-year limit for visiting faculty

 

These demands have been endorsed unanimously by both our Executive Board and Representative Assembly, and are, we believe, a minimum basis for an fair system of renewals for NTT faculty.

We are also still building a mailing list (sign up here) for those interested in working more directly on these issues, and we are collecting testimonials like the one above. Please contact our organizer on this project, Sophie, at uicufsophie@gmail.com if you’d like to make a video testimonial, and we will work with you to craft one.

Provost’s Last Office Hour
This Friday is Provost Poser’s final office hour of the semester before she leaves her position for a new job as Hofstra University President. Though she is leaving the last week of May, significant policy decisions still appear to be coming out of her office and we especially encourage you to sign on with this graphic as your Zoom background and ask whatever questions you have. A few possibilities: What is happening with the new American Rescue Plan funds, and how will those be used for faculty retention? What is the process for changing the limit on visiting appointments? Why is that not something the Provost has already done?

 

Backlog on Pay for Overcomps and Other “Extra” Work
UICUF is increasingly concerned about a series of notifications from our members that overcomps, which they were approved for at the unit level, and are almost done teaching, have still not been approved for payroll. While this is clearly not affecting everyone, it does appear to be a widespread enough problem that we want to alert members, and encourage you to contact us if you are having problems getting paid for your overcomps this semester. Contact us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com if you are having this problem or want help looking into it.

ULP Hearings
Hearings at the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board (IELRB) have been ongoing this week and last week over Unfair Labor Practices (ULP) charges we filed last summer. We have made the case that the university failed in its duty to bargain over Covid policy impacts, especially in terms of refusing to put in writing contractually enforceable agreements, even as they implemented policies under discussion at the table. These actions fly in the face of the very definition of bargaining and are, we believe, illegal. We will keep you informed as the case evolves, though it may be weeks or months before a determination is made.

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We hold regular office hours from 12-1pm Wednesday and Thursday each week. Use the following links to add them to your calendar:
Wednesday 12-1pm | Thursday 12-1pm

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 SAFER place to work and learn!

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Town Hall on Non-Tenure Track Faculty Job Security

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14 Apr NTT Job Security Town Hall & Union Vaccine Distribution

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  • NTT Job Security Town Hall: Save the date for our NTT Job Security Town Hall, Wednesday, 4/28, from 4:30-6pm. There is much more UIC can do to prioritize NTT retention, and we’ll discuss how to make them do it. Sign up for updates if you want to hear more about these issues.
  • Union Vaccine Distribution: The Chicago Federation of Labor will distribute Pfizer or Moderna vaccines on Sunday, 4/18, and Wednesday, 4/21. Appointments available for union members, and non-medical volunteers also needed to help. See details below.
  • ULP Hearings: This week, we finally get a hearing on the administrations’ questionable methods in bargaining COVID impacts over the past year. At issue is their unwillingness to sign enforceable agreements, even on proposals they have announced as policy.
  • SURS Solicitation Warning: Some members have recently reported being contacted by a retirement advisor via emails designed to imply they are officially endorsed by SURS. SURS advises all members to carefully read emails before agreeing to a consult.

 

Dear Members,

As a reminder, we are working on making NTT retention a priority for this coming academic year. NTT faculty are indispensable to UIC’s teaching and research mission, yet some are being threatened with non-renewal due to vaguely justified budget cuts, while many more have come to expect late renewal notices or none at all. We will be holding a Town Hall on Wednesday, 4/28, at 4:30pm to discuss these issues and what to do about them. We highly encourage all our members to join us if you’re able, regardless of whether you are Tenure Track or Non-Tenure Track, and to encourage your students to attend as well. We are also still collecting testimonials like the one above, and will work with you to craft one if you contact us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

Union Vaccine Distribution and Volunteering
Our union colleagues at the Chicago Federation of Labor have arranged to distribute vaccines to union members, and will be holding clinics this coming Sunday and Wednesday:

  • Sunday, April 18 at Cement Masons Local 502 (739 25th Ave, Bellwood, IL 60104) from 9AM – 3PM (Volunteers arrive at 7:30AM)
  • Wednesday, April 21 at Painters District Council 30 (1905 Sequoia Drive Aurora, IL 60506) from 9AM – 3pm (Volunteers arrive at 7:30AM)

 

They will be distributing either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, and have reserved spots just for UICUF members, so if you have not been vaccinated and would like to get the shot, we highly encourage you to sign up. You may need proof of membership to enroll. If you need your membership number, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com and we will look it up for you.

There are also non-medical volunteer opportunities to help with: directing traffic, checking patient temperatures, photocopying documents and ID’s, assisting with patient registration, form preparation/distribution, and directing patients within the event space. Parking will be available for volunteers, and all volunteers will receive a boxed lunch. In addition, all interested volunteers will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine the day of their shift. Please reach out to mroach@chicagolabor.org or 312-261-0171 with your full name, phone number, whether or not you want a vaccine and any dietary restrictions to sign up or with any additional questions. In addition, if you are bilingual and/or could bring a laptop to the clinic please let us know in your email.

You also may have heard that UIC students are now eligible to receive a vaccine through UI Health (accessible in their MyChart). While vaccines are not mandated for faculty or students at this time, we highly encourage you to get vaccinated and to share information about eligibility with your students.

ULP Hearings
This Thursday and Friday, the Illinois Education Labor Board will hold a hearing on the Unfair Labor Practice charges we filed against UIC Administration last summer. The charges speak to the administration’s failure to negotiate over COVID impacts, and in particular their unwillingness to reach written and enforceable agreements, even as they implemented policies under discussion at the bargaining table. While the hearings will take place this week, this process may take weeks or months to fully adjudicate. The administration has, for now, said they are unwilling to continue meeting and negotiating until after these hearings (which may represent a further illegal act on their part). We will report back on the proceedings and our expectations for future discussion of COVID issues as the process develops.

SURS Solicitation Warning

Recently, our members alerted us to growing incidents of unsolicited offers via email for retirement consultations. SURS has posted a warning on their website as well. These emails are apparently designed to lead SURS members to believe they are from official representatives or partners of the SURS system. They are not, and we advise members to proceed with caution before agreeing to a consultation.

The messages shared with us were from My403bonline.com, but the company owning this domain is known to use many others in ways that resemble a phishing scam operation. Our best advice is to pay attention to the domain of the sender of such emails, and not to trust domains you don’t recognize.

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We hold regular office hours from 12-1pm Wednesday and Thursday each week. Use the following links to add them to your calendar:
Wednesday 12-1pm | Thursday 12-1pm

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 SAFER place to work and learn!

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12 Apr Fighting for NTT Job Security

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  • Unresolved Issues with NTT Renewal: UICUF has done much to improve NTT job security, but there is still a long way to go. The time is right to consider ways that NTT faculty can be made more secure without new negotiations or rewriting of any statutes.
  • Join the Cause: We want to keep our members informed as we roll out a campaign to address this issue. If you are interested in receiving more information and/or action notices specifically on this topic, let us know here.
  • Statement Demanding NTT Job Security: Our Executive Board has produced a statement Supporting NTT Job Security and demanding UIC take action on this issue.

Dear Members,

Our NTT faculty are indispensable to the teaching and research missions of UIC and to their individual units, yet too many remain in precarious employment positions. In many ways, the precariousness of even full-time NTT faculty is the result of the university pursuing a just-in-time staffing model that harms not only faculty, but also our students. UIC can, and must, reconsider this model. There are a number of ways we believe our university can immediately ensure job security without renegotiating contracts or rewriting statutes.

As we are less than two months away from the first re-appointment notice deadline in our contract (June 1), we are calling on our members to get involved in supporting greater job security for our NTT colleagues. You can sign up to get action notices and information specifically on this topic by submitting your name and email here. You do not need to be an NTT member to sign up. In fact we need all the support we can get from more senior tenure-track and tenured faculty, so please consider signing up even if your position is secure. The loss of experienced faculty affects everyone.

Below is a statement from the UICUF Executive Board, which includes specific demands for our university to better support NTT faculty:

UICUF Executive Board Statement on NTT Job Security

As faculty committed to our university’s teaching mission, we affirm the importance of non-tenure track faculty to that mission and the wellbeing of the UIC community as a whole. Retention of non-tenure track faculty must be a top priority in any budget decisions. NTT teaching faculty are frequently the first people incoming students come into contact with, and their hard work as teachers and mentors creates a crucial foundation for students’ experiences at UIC. 

We demand that the UIC administration, including the Chancellor, Provost, and deans, ensure the following as they create and implement budgets and planning for the coming academic year: 

Maintain the current number of NTT teaching faculty positions

Notify all faculty of reappointment by the initial contractual deadline on or before June 1

Ensure transparency around budget and reappointment decisions

For this year, suspend the 3-year limit for visiting faculty 

Maintaining current numbers: We know first hand that UIC has long used a just-in-time hiring model to employ the minimum number of faculty needed to teach the maximum number of students. During the pandemic, this has led to extreme uncertainty for non-tenure track faculty and increased class sizes,despite clear guidelines that online instruction should include smaller classes. It is essential, both for the quality of education we are providing to our students and for the security of our faculty, that we at least maintain the current number of teaching faculty. By prioritizing faculty retention, we can ensure our students’ needs are served with appropriately sized classes, while providing greater job security for faculty who are foundational to undergraduate education at UIC. 

June 1 notification: The UICUF collective bargaining agreement requires units to notify non-tenure track faculty of reappointment by June 1, but allows exceptions based on budget uncertainty. We urge the administration to forego these exceptions, and provide notice to all NTT faculty on June 1. This is a time of increased uncertainty for everyone, and by postponing this decision, the university is pushing even more uncertainty onto both NTT faculty and the units that rely on them, including the faculty who will have to fill the gaps on short notice should they not be renewed. This practice is unacceptable and must be addressed. We must reappoint our faculty now to be prepared for fall enrollment and determine class sizes based on pedagogy and best practices instead of sacrificing our faculty for the sake of short-term cost savings. 

Transparency: Over the past months, faculty have heard many contradicting rumors, constantly changing plans, or–too frequently–nothing at all about what will happen to their jobs in the fall. We understand that there is currently a high level of general uncertainty, but it is still crucial to clearly communicate with faculty about what is happening around reappointment and to include non-tenure track faculty in the decisions that affect their employment. This is true at the campus level with decisions around budgets that affect hiring, as well as at the unit level. 

3-year visiting faculty limit: Ordinarily, there is a 3-year limit to visiting faculty positions, with the requirement of a national search before they can be converted to long-term positions. Given the limits on searches and hiring during the pandemic and the extra challenges of the academic job market at this time, the 3-year limit should be lifted for the coming academic year. It is in our students’ interest that UIC continue employing their teachers who have spent the past year honing their skills in COVID-era instruction, rather than hiring less experienced faculty to replace them solely because of a rule designed for non-pandemic conditions. The limit on visiting faculty appointments is not statutory or contractual; it is housed in the Faculty Handbook and the Faculty Affairs Policies, Procedures, and Guidelines and is therefore under the purview of the Provost’s office. All policies related to visiting faculty are collected here

We urge the University administration to take the measures outlined above as a way of demonstrating their commitment to the faculty who make UIC run, the students those faculty teach, and the colleagues who rely on them. 

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We hold regular office hours from 12-1pm Wednesday and Thursday each week. Use the following links to add them to your calendar:
Wednesday 12-1pm | Thursday 12-1pm

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 SAFER place to work and learn!

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05 Apr Meeting Recap and Survey Results

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  • Membership Meeting Recap: Key themes from our meeting (slides can be viewed here) included confronting racism and violence in the UIC community, a bargaining update, NTT job security, and a strategy for ensuring campus safety through benchmarks and enforcement this fall.
  • Survey Results: We have produced a report on the results of our Safety and Reopening Survey. Takeaways include a deficit of trust that UIC is doing all it can to meet safety needs, and concern over preparedness for and efficacy of Hybrid Classes.

Dear Members,

This week we held our Spring Membership meeting, where we discussed a number of key issues, from the need to remain vigilant and active in confronting racism in our community, to promoting NTT job security as fall planning gets underway. We also discussed bargaining, which has halted as the administration (illegally) refuses to return to the table pending outcomes of hearings on Unfair Labor Practice charges we’ve filed against them. Last but not least, we reviewed the findings of our Campus Safety and Reopening survey, which garnered 486 responses, about a third of our bargaining unit.

NTT Job Security
While some of the concern over budget cuts appears to be easing with further aid from the recently passed American Rescue Plan in Congress, UICUF is far from satisfied that NTT jobs are as secure as they could or should be. We still must address a legacy of some units not providing timely notice of renewals and a general resistance to transparency in decision-making, both in terms of individual renewals and overall staffing levels. Members agreed — and stepped up — when asked to stand in support of our NTT members without whom UIC could not function. Support from TT faculty has been, and will be especially important. If you would like to volunteer to help, we especially need testimonials on the indispensable work these faculty are doing in your own units. Email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

Bargaining
As a reminder, despite the administration refusing to negotiate actual agreements through impact bargaining, we know that our work in this arena has produced many positive outcomes for our members. These include tenure roll-backs, IP protections, and expanded use of PD funds. We continue to push to make these agreements grievable, and to extend them at least for as long as pandemic conditions remain in place at UIC.

It is also important to point out that while we formed a bargaining team just for the purpose of impact bargaining, the next round of full contract bargaining is just around the corner, with our current contract expiring 8/15/2022.

Per our Bargaining Chair, Aaron Krall, the timeline for bargaining our next contract looks something like this:

 

○ Now: Assemble a bargaining committee

○ Fall 2021: Survey members and begin drafting proposals

○ Spring 2022: Demand to bargain

○ Summer 2022: Bargain a new contract

 

So if you are interested in helping with bargaining in any aspect, please message us at UICUnitedfaculty@gmail.com. As in the past, we will build a diverse and inclusive team to meet at the table, and can always use more support behind the scenes with research, communications, etc, if you wish to contribute in different ways.

Survey Results and Benchmark Proposals
Our Benchmarks Committee put out a survey last month to measure how faculty feel about their risk factors, campus safety measures, and plans to teach hybrid/hyflex classes. The results are in, and we have a full analysis here.

The results give a strong impression that faculty are concerned about reopening plans, both in terms of safety and pedagogy. The following highlight some of the most revealing outcomes from the survey:

 

  • 89% anticipate returning to campus with an average of 6 classes each. This could mean as many as 2300 classes meeting at least partially in-person this fall.
  • Fewer than half (47%) are confident that UIC is doing enough to make the campus safe.
  • Only a slim majority (52%) have been consulted on moving to hybrid classes.
  • Less than half (47%) are confident in teaching hybrid/hyflex classes, and 40% do not believe hybrid/hyflex models are effective.
  • 29-40% of faculty surveyed have underlying health conditions putting them at high risk from COVID. 28-32% say they live with or care for someone with COVID risk factors.
  • Only 27% of faculty feel that the current process to opt-out of in-person work is reasonable.

 

In order to address these concerns, UICUF is currently developing benchmarks to ensure a safe and effective re-opening of campus. Based on an instant poll at the membership meeting, there is broad support for UICUF to independently authorize an expert review of safety conditions at UIC and develop a stakeholder committee that will hold the university accountable to safety claims for the sake of both workers and students.

We thank everyone who was able to make it to the meeting this week, and encourage anyone who couldn’t be there to message us if you want to comment or get involved in the above endeavors.

Solidarity,
UIC United Faculty

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We hold regular office hours from 12-1pm Wednesday and Thursday each week. Use the following links to add them to your calendar:
Wednesday 12-1pm | Thursday 12-1pm

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 SAFER place to work and learn!

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26 Mar UICUF Spring Membership Meeting Next Wednesday 3:30pm

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  • Membership Meeting: UICUF will hold its Spring Membership Meeting next Wednesday, 3/31/21, from 3:30-5pm. All members are welcome and should have received login info by email message us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com if you didn’t receive that info, or you wish to join the union.
  • Meeting Agenda: We will be discussing the results of our recent Safety and Reopening Survey, updates from the bargaining table, and updates on organizing for NTT job security.
  • UIC Senate Addresses Student Evals, NTT Sabbaticals, Tenure Rollbacks: The senate recently weighed in independently on a number of issues UICUF is currently working on. They have resolved against using student evals in faculty reviews, proposed new NTT sabbaticals, and supported automatic tenure rollback extensions for all who want them!
  • Teaching Modifier Update: We now have the statutory language, approved by the Board of Trustees, that will allow for the new “Teaching” modified titles. Notably the language leaves the conversion process to colleges and departments to decide.

Dear Members,

Our Spring Membership Meeting will be next Wednesday, 3/31, from 3:30-5pm (see full login information for this remote meeting below). Among the topics under discussion, we will hear from our COVID Benchmarks Committee on the results of the Safety and Reopening Survey, and benchmarks to ensure a safe campus reopening in Fall 2021. We will also discuss bargaining, which appears to be stalled as Unfair Labor Practice charges filed against the administration for failure to bargain in good faith move forward. In addition, we will hear from members organizing to fight for stronger NTT job security.

UIC Senate Resolutions
UICUF and the Senate have separate and distinct roles in policy-making at UIC, and we are always excited to see those roles complement each other in supporting faculty. Recently the Senate has been particularly active on issues that UICUF has been working on independently, and we think UIC faculty will benefit greatly from the new motions just passed. In particular, the Senate has passed a resolution against the use of student evaluations in upcoming faculty reviews, directly acknowledging both the flawed nature of these evaluation measures in general, and the distortion of metrics under the stresses of the pandemic. They’ve also proposed NTT sabbaticals for the first time in UIC history, laying out a roadmap to start the process and amend the statutes so that teaching faculty can take advantage of this much sought academic privilege. Finally, while the administration has announced that tenure rollbacks are to be extended in a general statement, the senate has gone farther, specifying that these rollbacks should be automatic for any who want them, rather than at the administration’s discretion.

It is worth pointing out in the wake of these resolutions that the administration has frequently attempted to drive a wedge between faculty by asserting, falsely, that certain issues are the sole domain of the Senate, and not appropriate for bargaining. Though UICUF retains full rights to bargain over working conditions, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our colleagues in the Senate on these issues sends a strong message of unity to the administration. We will, of course, keep up pressure on the administration to follow through on these resolutions and to work out and sign agreements at the bargaining table.

Solidarity,
UIC United Faculty

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We hold regular office hours from 12-1pm Wednesday and Thursday each week. Use the following links to add them to your calendar:
Wednesday 12-1pm | Thursday 12-1pm

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 SAFER place to work and learn!

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19 Mar UIC Admin Punts on Reopening Concerns, Calls Halt to Bargaining

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  • UIC Admin Side Steps Reopening Concerns: Chancellor Amiridis issued this statement in response to our open letter on reopening concerns, carefully avoiding addressing the problematic decision-making process on reopening, or any other specific issues raised.
  • Labor Relations Halts Bargaining: In a separate (and illegal) move, Labor Relations has signalled their unwillingness to negotiate further over COVID and reopening, pending results of upcoming Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) hearings on charges filed by UICUF.
  • ULPs and Illegal Actions: UICUF filed ULP charges last summer over unilateral decisions made by admin that affect our contract. They are repeating those illegal patterns in their approach to planning for this fall.
  • UICUF Demands a Return to Bargaining in Good Faith: We are disappointed with admin’s protracted approach to bargaining, but we continue to believe it is the only appropriate venue to address ongoing effects on our members’ working conditions.
  • COVID VACCINE UPDATE: Chicago is on track to start phase 1C of vaccine distribution, which includes postsecondary faculty, on 3/29. Vaccine appointments will be offered via MyChart, and both the administration and UICUF encourage you to set up accounts.
  • COVID SAFETY AND REOPENING SURVEY ENDS 6PM TODAY: You still have until 6pm today to complete our Safety and Reopening Survey. The results will be presented at our member meeting, 3:30pm, 3/31. Zoom link to follow closer to the date.

 

Dear Members,

Last week we sent an open letter to the Chancellor, asking him to address concerns around the decision-making process that led to an announcement on reopening classrooms in the fall. We also expressed concerns over the implications of those apparent plans, in particular the impact of shifting most classes to what looks like a Hybrid/HyFlex model of course delivery. Hybrid course delivery means presenting course content simultaneously to students both in person and via remote learning, while Flexible models are those that allow students to choose how to attend class while offering the same learning outcomes regardless of in-person or remote venues.

This week, we received a response that is, unfortunately, quite disappointing. We can appreciate the optimistic approach of hoping most faculty will be vaccinated by fall, and that the university can return safely to some level of in-person instruction. But hope is not a plan, and optimism is not an explanation for how these plans were made. UICUF continues to hope that the university will include faculty voices in reopening plans, but since that does not appear to be on the agenda, we are and will continue exploring other options to advocate for our members and the university as a whole.

Labor Relations Halts Bargaining Process
One major avenue we have pursued since the beginning of the pandemic has been collective bargaining. This is, UICUF believes, the only appropriate venue for negotiating plans that will impact our members’ working conditions, which are contractually protected. Unfortunately again, admin has not engaged with this process in an earnest and collaborative way. Indeed the administration apparently plans to celebrate a year of obstruction with an indefinite halting of ongoing negotiations.

Labor Relations is now saying that they have no interest in further bargaining sessions until after the resolution of Unfair Labor Practice hearings set for later this Spring (though the proceedings may continue into the summer, or even beyond). These ULP charges are, perhaps ironically, themselves a direct result of the administration’s pattern of obstructing bargaining and taking action on issues under negotiation without reaching agreements with the union.

To be clear, refusing to bargain by insisting future negotiations are contingent on a judicial process, and refusing to render agreements on changes to contractually protected working conditions into writing, are illegal actions by the administration. UICUF is demanding that the administration return to the table in good faith and finalize an agreement–which was making slow, but steady progress up to this point.

Solidarity,
UIC United Faculty

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18 Mar Chancellor’s Response on Reopening Concerns

Last week, we published an open letter outlining concerns our members have expressed over recently announced reopening plans published by the administration. In particular, we have heard frustration over the lack of transparency and inclusion in the decision-making process that seems to have completely bypassed faculty committees formed explicitly to consider this topic, and concerns over what appears to be a move toward Hybrid/HyFlex models of course delivery.

Unfortunately, the response we received seems to carefully avoid addressing these concerns, leaving more questions than answers in its wake. For full transparency, we have reproduced that response from Chancellor Amiridis in it’s entirety, here:

Dear Janet,

Thank you for sharing your concerns regarding UIC’s return-to-campus this fall.  We too are cautiously optimistic about vaccinations – in fact, we expect to start vaccinating the remaining faculty and staff within the next 2-3 weeks – and we hope that we can finally get a handle on the pandemic.  Of course, the situation remains fluid, but it now appears that we can begin our transition back to on-campus learning, consistent with national trends in higher education and relying on guidance from appropriate medical and government entities. 

We recognize that many details still need to be worked out, both on a macro and micro level.  But we are confident that those details will be worked out within the Colleges and the departments with guidance from the Provost office, and that faculty members and their Chairs/Deans will effectively communicate and reach appropriate arrangements to return to on-campus teaching without compromising safety. 

Should any particular issues arise that you feel require more discussion, please do not hesitate to reach out to Nancy or Andrew, and they will include me and Susan as appropriate. The University sincerely appreciates the commitment and flexibility of all our faculty during these challenging times, and we will continue to work with you to achieve our ongoing critical missions for our students and our community. 

Best wishes,
Michael

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12 Mar Open Letter to Chancellor Amiridis on Announced Reopening Plans

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Dear Chancellor Amiridis and Provost Poser,

Monday’s email to students, staff and faculty, “Fall 2021 Information for Undergraduate Students,” has raised many serious questions and concerns – and added substantial confusion as we are trying to plan for fall.

A key concern and source of confusion is how the administration went from asking colleges “to create a set of contingency plans, based on several different scenarios, that maximize the number of students attending class on-campus” (February 26, 2021) to saying this about Fall 2021:

Most sections of classes with enrollment of fewer than 100 students will meet on campus and follow all public health protocols, including required masking and distancing. This will mean that for most on-campus classes, all of the students enrolled in the class will not be able to attend in-person every day, so they will have the ability to view recorded/streamed lectures when not present in the classroom.

The second sentence is confusing in terms of what it even means for teaching: for example, how will this all work, even with additional technology and tents?  Is the plan even viable, much less pedagogically responsible? Also of significant concern, there does not seem to have been much — if any — shared governance or true engagement with the faculty in developing this proposal before it was issued. Moreover, in reading this, we suspect the plan will add substantially more uncompensated work, time, and preparation, adding significantly to the burdens of already greatly overstressed faculty while not providing commensurate benefits to students. It also begs the question: is this something students want (much less understand)? Because most students who will be with us in the fall are here now, we wonder if they have been consulted, as they very clearly should have been.

Most urgent to us now are the requests of faculty to determine their mode of teaching, which is understandable given upcoming registration.  But in doing so, faculty are being asked to “justify” why they chose any mode that is not face-to-face. Some are being told that they will need to apply for approval to teach online through the Office of Access and Equity, following ADA requirements. While we are optimistic about vaccinations and getting a handle on this pandemic, there still is great uncertainty and many unknowns about what the pandemic will look like in the fall. How are faculty to make these determinations without any significant guidance?  More importantly, why are they having to do this right now? We fear that this strategy is motivated by a perceived need to be competitive or to appeal to incoming applicants rather than to do what is best for UIC faculty, staff and current students.

We have heard from many faculty that the administration’s approach is quite upsetting to them. That said, we do want to be clear: we the United Faculty at UIC very much want to work with the administration toward the common goal of returning to campus and meeting the university’s mission of equity and excellence in education. To do so requires collaboration and communication before decisions are made and not after the fact.  We had hoped that the last year would have, by this point, inspired much more of a commitment to genuine collaboration.

We would welcome meeting with you as soon as possible to discuss these matters.

Best regards,

Janet Smith

President, UIC United Faculty

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