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17 Sep Shame: UICUF Appalled by Regressive Strike Breaking Tactics

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SHAME
UICUF Statement Against Regressive Strike Breaking Tactics

UIC United Faculty (UICUF)—the union representing over 1,400 tenured and non-tenured faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago—is disturbed and appalled that the university administration has recruited scabs to substitute for UIC workers exercising their legal right to strike for fair and just contracts.  The university has contracted with firms that specialize in providing strikebreakers, which allegedly includes bringing scabs in from states currently listed on the City of Chicago’s Emergency Travel Order.

Union members in SEIU Local 73 and the Illinois Nurses Association have been working without a contract while risking their own health and safety as frontline hospital workers in the fight against COVID-19.  Rather than negotiate new contracts that recognize the invaluable labor and heroism of their employees, the administration has refused to bargain seriously and, when challenged, turned to scabs.

The administration has in effect refused to treat its unionized workers as members of the university community or even the Chicago community.  The administration has not provided adequate health protections and insists on paying below the city minimum wage on the basis of a technicality, claiming UIC workers are state workers and not workers in Chicago. The city has made clear what a minimum wage for those working in this city must be, yet the administration insists on using a loophole in the law to pay them less.

In these shameful acts the administration is taking a position reminiscent of unscrupulous employers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, before the New Deal.  This is the old deal: take an unsafe job that pays below the minimum wage or be replaced by a scab.  UICUF is ashamed that the UIC administration has taken this regressive position, and has doubled down on defending it with vile strike breaking tactics.  We fully support SEIU 73 and the Illinois Nurses Association in their efforts to achieve  fair and safe contracts.

In Solidarity,
UIC United Faculty

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13 Sep INA/SEIU Strike Updates

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  • INA Nurses Begin 7 Day Strike: UIC Nurses strike over COVID safety, safe staffing levels, and wages began Saturday 9-12-20 and will continue through the week, or until they get a fair contract.
  • SEIU To Begin Striking Monday: SEIU, representing service staff, building services, and custodians both on campus and at the hospital, will strike Monday, 9-14-20, over similar concerns
  • Expired Contracts, Lost Colleagues: Both unions are working under expired contracts and have lost colleagues to serious illness and deaths related to COVID-19.
  • How Does This Affect Faculty: Below is info on how these strikes may affect you and your students, what you are and are not required to do, and what you can do to support our colleagues in their fights for fair contracts.

 

Dear UICUF Members,

Our colleagues in the Nurses and Staff unions, INA and SEIU, are striking for their lives, starting this week. COVID19 has sickened over 100 workers, and killed at least 5, so this is no exaggeration. They are also fighting for safe staffing levels, as admin has maintained critically low numbers of nurses and custodians, even while the pandemic increases the need for these essential roles. As fellow union workers at UIC, we support these necessary strike actions to win real protections through enforceable, fair contracts. We encourage you in the strongest possible terms to consider how you can help, by taking solidarity actions, or even simply sharing social media posts.

Below is our at-a-glance advice on supporting the strikes, respecting striking workers’ legal rights, and where to expect pickets during this work stoppage.

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

 

  • Rally with Strikers: Monday, 12pm, @1717 W. Taylor
  • Avoid crossing picket lines (detailed location of the pickets below).
    • Consider alternative forms of teaching if necessary (e.g. on-line/virtual meeting if you are not already remote).
    • Move classes to either evening hours, to an off campus location, or to non-struck buildings, if necessary and allowed under your unit’s policy.
  • Don’t perform, or hire replacement workers to perform, duties assigned to striking workers.
  • Sign the Community and Labor support letter here, and  sign up to hear about support actions here.
  • Join picket lines when not working.
  • Wear union pins, shirts and other items that demonstrate solidarity in your workplace (including work related video meetings and classes).
  • Talk to students about why nurses and staff are striking, including COVID safety, appropriate staffing levels, fair wages, and professional respect.
  • Follow, like, share, comment on social media accounts

 

RESPECTING THE LEGAL RIGHTS OF STRIKING WORKERS
While our members will not likely face many situations that call into question the legality of actions relative to striking workers, we want to remind everyone that it is generally unlawful to take actions dissuading or punishing workers for exercising their right to strike. Specifically:

  • It is unlawful to fire, discipline, or retaliate against workers for participating in a strike or union activity.
  • It is unlawful to ask 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 workers participating in a strike or union activity.
  • It is unlawful to discriminate against, restrain, or coerce workers regarding union membership or activity.

 

PICKETING TIMES AND LOCATIONS
Since much of the campus is already closed or at minimal staffing levels due to COVID-19, pickets will in some cases take place on major thoroughfares rather than individual buildings. This may change if needed as demands of the strike action evolve.

  • Chicago Picket #1: 1740 W Taylor
  • Chicago Picket # 2: 750 S Halsted
  • Peoria: Medical Center
  • Rockford: Medical Center
  • Sign up for pickets here

 

We hope it goes without saying, but do not cross a picket line if at all avoidable. It is disrespectful to fellow workers fighting for their rights, and diminishes all of our collective power to fight for fair contracts. If you are directed by a supervisor to cross a picket or teach class in a picketed building, you may be required to comply, but should make time on either end of your work commitment to join and march with the picketers.

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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 SAFER place to work and learn!

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11 Sep Alert: UIC May Assert Rights Over Online Course Materials

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  • Intellectual Property Rights NOT Guaranteed: Admin has refused to extend IP protections on remote course materials being prepared for spring 2021.
  • Course Prep Support May Trigger Rights Transfer: According to policies shared by Provost Poser, accepting course-builders, ION training, or a stipend may all be conditions conferring licensing rights to UIC after fall exceptions end on Dec 31, 2020.
  • Strike Updates: SEIU/INA art build is Friday, 9/11/20. INA pickets begin Saturday, SEIU pickets begin Monday. Email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com to get involved.

 

Dear UIC Faculty,

We write today to express our growing concern that the UIC administration may seek to assert ownership and/or licensing rights over online course materials developed for spring classes. We strongly advise you at this time to refuse any ION or Course-Builder assistance, or planning stipends, for spring course prep until assurances are made that you will retain all ownership and licensing rights to your work.

Faculty are, by the university’s general rules (Article III) and via our contract (Article VII.G), entitled to full ownership of traditionally copyrightable academic works, including lectures and lesson plans. However, this right may be considered forfeit if you create materials as a specific requirement of employment, or make use of resources beyond what is usually provided by UIC. The administration has made clear in contract negotiations and general communications that they believe the acceptance of ION training, Course Builders, or a course planning stipend, would all be qualifying events allowing them to take ownership and licensing rights to your work.

Provost Poser reinforced this principle in communications to faculty on August 5th, where she shared an interim policy explicitly stating these conditions as conferring rights to the university, while exempting them temporarily for the fall semester. Despite repeated calls to do so, and with the deadlines to enroll in ION courses or ask for Course-Builder assistance approaching on October 1st, the administration has refused to extend these exemptions.

At a time when UIC is actively exploring expanded licensing deals with third party online education providers, we find this failure to reassure faculty on ownership rights to be provocative to say the least. Their insistence on language giving them licensing rights to faculty course materials appears to be a grave threat to our intellectual property, and possibly to the integrity of our work in the long term.

If you are considering accepting course-builder assistance, ION training, or a planning stipend, especially to prepare for large asynchronous classes, we encourage you not to agree to anything without written assurance protecting your intellectual property and licensing rights to those course materials. Short of such written assurance, we must assume that it is the university’s intention to claim said rights and use those course materials as they see fit, with or without permission of the faculty member.

If you are being pressured or forced to accept such assistance, contact us ASAP, and as ever, please email us any questions at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

Solidarity,
UIC United Faculty

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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 SAFER place to work and learn!

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07 Sep Happy Labor Day from UIC United Faculty

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Dear Fellow Union Members,

Happy Labor Day to you, and all the working people in your lives! We hope you may take a moment to reflect on the meaning of this holiday honoring everyday workers, and the labor we all do that keeps our world running. Especially now, as thousands of our colleagues in the Nurses and Staff unions at UIC are preparing to strike for their lives over safety concerns, a recognition of labor’s role in society, and our collective power when we organize, is all the more critical.

Our own collective actions, meanwhile, have ensured that the vast majority of faculty are able to teach remotely if you wish to, and in the ways that work best for the unique situation of your discipline, and your students. Our contract has also ensured that even as other universities use the pandemic as an excuse to cut wages or furlough faculty, our members will still enjoy the fruits of a 4% raise pool this year.

We also want to remind you that we are still collecting donations for our Mutual Aid Fund, to help support colleagues who have lost, or may lose their jobs and health insurance during the COVID pandemic. We’ve raised over $14,000 dollars out of our $20,000 goal, and have already distributed more than $12,000 to members who have lost their jobs in the worst academic job market most of us have ever experienced. You can donate via our GoFundMe page or by writing a check and mailing to our office at:

UIC—United Faculty
1016 W Jackson Blvd
Chicago, Illinois 60607

On a final note, we hope that above all, today you remember that our union is strong because of members like you. Whether you are an elected union officer, or a dues paying member, your support makes our work, and all the union’s achievements, possible. Labor Day is, in every sense, your holiday, and you’ve earned it!

Solidarity,
UIC United Faculty

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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 SAFER place to work and learn!

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03 Sep UIC Staff and Nurses Prepared to Strike on 9/12

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  • INA, SEIU Members Authorize Strikes: Our colleagues in the UIC nurses and staff unions, INA and SEIU, showed extraordinary resolve in recent votes authorizing their unions to strike over stalled contract negotiations.
  • Scholar Strike Over Racial Justice: A call has gone out for a decentralized “strike” by scholars in support of racial justice next week. Work stoppages are not permitted by our contract, but we encourage you to support the movement in other ways as you are able.
  • Raises Are Going Through: Faculty now appear to be receiving raises out of the 4% merit, compression, and equity pools guaranteed by our contract.
  • IP Rights for Spring NOT protected: Admin has given an October 1 deadline to sign up for ION and Coursebuilder support for Spring classes, but have NOT guaranteed faculty intellectual property rights for courses developed with this assistance.

 

UIC Nurses and Staff are Prepared to Strike for Fair Contracts
In an all-too-familiar pattern that we’ve called out during our own past bargaining efforts, UIC admin has once again pushed two campus unions, representing nurses and university staff, to the brink of a work stoppage. INA, the nurses union, and SEIU, the union representing hospital and university staff, have both negotiated past the expiration of their contracts with no sign that Admin is willing to agree to a fair deal. This adds to more than a dozen examples in just the past few years that tell us UIC Admin will not agree to a fair contract without a strike, or the threat of one.

In response to admin’s failure to negotiate a fair contract, 1000 INA nurses voted to strike two weeks ago and have just set a strike date of Saturday, September 12th. They have expressed ongoing concerns over patient and worker safety due to understaffing and failure to provide enough PPE for all workers. The union will ensure that patients continue to receive adequate care, reducing only non-essential services in the event of a strike.

SEIU has expressed similar concerns, around lack of PPE, inadequate stocks of cleaning supplies, and critical staffing shortages that pre-date the COVID pandemic, which has only amplified the urgency of these health and safety demands. Yesterday, 94% of their 3,000 members voted to strike, and they delivered their notice that they’ll stop work on Monday, September 14th.

Both SEIU and INA have suffered significant numbers of seriously ill members, as well as several COVID-related deaths since the spring.

UICUF will be providing financial support to each group’s strike funds, as well as taking other actions to support their efforts to win a fair contract as appropriate. We invite you to offer whatever personal support, be it monetary, creative, showing up to rallies, or simply amplifying social media. SEIU has also posted a support form you can fill out as an individual.

Scholar Strike
Our affiliate organization, AAUP, recently highlighted a call for a Scholar Strike to bring attention to racial injustice and police violence. While an actual concerted work stoppage is not permitted within the bounds of the UIC United Faculty contract, we do strongly encourage our faculty to engage in other actions next Tuesday, 9/8, and Wednesday, 9/9, that support the cause. You can email Scholarstrike@gmail.com to discuss ways you can help even though we cannot legally strike at this time.

Raises and IP Rights for Spring Courses
Some of you may have already been informed of pay raises going through for the year. As a reminder, UIC United Faculty’s contract, which we fought for to the brink of our own work stoppage just last year, guarantees a combined 4% in raise pools (2% merit, 2% compression/equity) each year. Amid much grumbling by our admin counterparts in impact bargaining this year, they acknowledged that regardless of COVID-related cuts, they are required to honor the contract. This is, of course, why having a legally enforceable contract is so important, and is why we, and our colleagues in the grad worker, nurses, and staff unions, have all been willing to take the exceptional steps of authorizing or initiating a strike to win them.

Meanwhile, ongoing concerns around our own impact bargaining process linger. While we’ve elaborated on immediate health and safety issues recently, we also remain concerned about durable intellectual property rights for those building courses with the help of ION and course-builder assistance from the university. UIC admin chose to narrowly guarantee IP protections for fall semester, framing the action as waiving their right to ownership of your work. They have studiously ignored UICUF calls to make this provision protecting faculty IP rights permanent, or even to extend it to the Spring semester.

With an apparent October 1 deadline to accept ION/Course Builder assistance for Spring, we want to warn all faculty considering these options that your IP rights are NOT currently guaranteed. We therefore must caution against accepting these forms of aid unless or until you receive confirmation in writing that all content being created will remain yours exclusively. Absent this, we must assume that the university intends to use, modify, and/or reproduce your work as admin sees fit.

As ever, if you have questions or concerns around any of these issues, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

Solidarity
UIC United Faculty

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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 SAFER place to work and learn!

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21 Aug Press Release: UIC United Faculty Issues Statement on Campus Safety

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 21, 2020

CONTACTS
Robert Johnston, UICUF Chief Steward
773-610-1442 robert.douglas.johnston@gmail.com 

Aaron Krall, UICUF Executive Vice-President
312-351-4172 aaronkrall@gmail.com 

Charitianne Williams, UICUF Communications Chair
773-531-3265 charitianne@gmail.com 


UIC United Faculty Issues Statement on Campus Safety
Faculty reject administration’s plan for campus reopening as unsafe.

The UIC United Faculty (UICUF), the union representing tenure and non-tenure track faculty at the University of Illinois@Chicago today issued a statement declaring the plan to return to the UIC campus next week unsafe.

We do not have confidence that the Administration’s plan will sufficiently provide for a safe reopening,” the statement reads,“ let alone sustain a healthy open campus for the fall semester.”

The statement also discusses frequency testing and contact tracing on campus which falls short of the rates necessary to identify and contain a campus outbreak.

UICUF has been in impact bargaining with campus administration since March and has filed several Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges over administration intransigence and failure to negotiate at the bargaining table. This reflects the reality of several faculty unions across Illinois, who have filed ULPs against administrative bargaining practices during COVID-19 impact negotiations. Most recently, Western and Eastern Illinois faculty unions (UPI Local 4100) filed ULPs for similar situations. Western has been granted an injunction to delay opening, while this appeal to the law  appears to have forced a tentative agreement at Eastern.

The UICUF statement also coincides with a strike authorization vote taken by University of Illinois Health nurses over working conditions and access to PPE. Additionally, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) staff at UIC plan on taking a strike vote later in September over UIC’s failure to provide adequate safeguards for staff and bargain in good faith at the negotiation table. In the statement, UICUF acknowledges these issues as central to the lack of confidence in the plan to reopen, which depends heavily on the labor of SEIU members to keep our campus and community safe:

“We are troubled by the lack of confidence members of the support and custodial staff have with the current plan and their ability to carry it out to an adequate degree with the personnel and equipment at their disposal.  We aren’t prepared to risk their lives.” 

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

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21 Aug UIC United Faculty Statement on Campus Health, Safety, and Re-Opening

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UIC United Faculty is eager to serve our students and effectively engage in the incredibly important project of education. That said, we have no confidence that the campus is reasonably safe. We do not have confidence that the Administration’s plan will sufficiently provide for a safe reopening, let alone sustain a healthy open campus for the fall semester.  The UIC administration is relying on Illinois Board of Higher Education recommendations that were not endorsed by faculty experts on the committee, who have issued an alternative ‘best practices’ report.

 

  • We are troubled by the lack of confidence members of the support and custodial staff have with the current plan and their ability to carry it out to an adequate degree with the personnel and equipment at their disposal.  We aren’t prepared to risk their lives.

 

  • We are concerned that the current testing and tracing program will be insufficient to stop an outbreak on campus from spreading widely and back into the various communities where we and our students work and live.

It appears that the current plan meets only minimum standards, with decisions prioritizing opening rather than saving lives and preventing illness–which should take precedence over all other concerns. We should never put our students, staff, faculty, and all of their families at unnecessary risk.

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20 Aug Despite Lingering Concerns, Faculty Voices DID Make A Difference

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  • You Made a Difference: Despite ongoing issues, our actions as a united faculty dramatically reduced the number of people who will be on-campus and at risk this fall, won compensation for (some) faculty this summer, and secured faculty discretion in course delivery/recording.
  • Safety Concerns Still Loom: As classes begin this fall UICUF remains deeply concerned about campus safety, and significant policy differences remain unresolved with Admin.
  • UICUF Continues to Fight for Faculty: Whether you have individual or collective concerns, our union is ready to continue the work of representing you and making UIC an even SAFER place to work and learn. Email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com to reach a union representative.

Union Pressure DID Make a Difference
As we prepare to resume classes next week, its important to recognize that our union, through the vocal support of our membership, DID make a difference in the shape of the coming fall term. Many unilateral administration policies on everything from how and where we teach, to whether faculty got paid for off-contract summer prep work, were overturned or altered when we raised our voices together to demand better. We didn’t get everything we wanted, and much remains in policy-by-email form rather than signed agreements, but we hope you’ll agree that the following achievements would not have been possible without the collective actions of our members:

Initial Policy

Current Policy

On-Campus Teaching

No opt out policy beyond pre-COVID ADA process — 300+ faculty expected to teach 10,000 students.

Opt-out from traditional classroom instruction at faculty discretion (window is now closed)

Course Delivery

Top-down policy requiring synchronous or asynchronous formats, recording of classes

Faculty “encouraged” but not required to conduct asynchronous classes, record class sessions

Summer Pay

Mandated 80hrs unpaid prep time for online classes

$1m compensation pool for large asynchronous classes

Ongoing Safety Concerns and Policy Disagreements
Unfortunately, even with these changes, UICUF continues to have many concerns about the safety of on-campus work and learning. They began with the lack of transparency on a back-to-campus safety plan, and have only grown with the administration’s broad refusal to include union stakeholders in that planning process. Perhaps our gravest concerns, however, come from the stories of our union colleagues in SEIU and INA, who are currently considering strike votes over their working conditions. The administration’s failure to provide sufficient PPE or even enough disinfectant for custodial workers, the chronic understaffing of custodial ranks that continues despite promises of increased cleaning, and the fact of multiple unreported deaths and fresh infections (including cases reported in academic buildings this week), have been damning revelations to our members.

Last week, finally, an opt-out policy was enacted, giving faculty only 2 working days to act, and coming far too late to be practical for many faculty to use, though many in-person classes had already been cancelled under union pressure. This is only the latest decision in a pattern of the administration walking back their inscrutable on-campus instruction mandates at the last minute, leaving little time for faculty or students to adjust. Even this policy pointedly failed to address on-campus work outside of traditional classrooms, especially for our library faculty.

We want to firmly state that regardless of the administration’s stated opt-out deadline, which has passed, UICUF will support any faculty who wish to opt out of on-campus work for safety reasons. Emails us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com if you want help seeking accommodations.

The Work Continues
Conditions will certainly continue evolving over the coming weeks and months, and our union will continue to make UIC an even SAFER place to work and learn. Whatever your situation, we highly encourage you to engage with your colleagues and with the union through our elected representatives if you have any concerns about COVID or other campus policies this semester.

To all our colleagues, please stay safe as you continue your exceptional work!

Solidarity,
UIC United Faculty

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17 Aug Opt-Out of On Campus Duties Before 5pm TOMORROW

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  • Act NOW to Opt-Out: per an unusual administrative communication this weekend, faculty have until 5pm Tuesday (TOMORROW), to opt-out of on campus teaching.
  • “Exceptions” Under Investigation: Despite the broad statement in the email, we’ve heard from some members that their Deans claim this doesn’t apply to them. We are urgently investigating these reported “exceptions,” as well as whether it applies to library duties.
  • Safety Remains a Major Concern: UICUF continues to have grave concerns about the safety of on-campus classes. We strongly recommend you request accommodations now if desired.
  • Union Support is Available: UICUF will support all requests made, informally or through the grievance procedure if necessary. A written record of your timely request will greatly improve chances of winning accommodations, even if they are initially denied.
  • Email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com if you would like help requesting accommodations, or if you have been denied, told you are ineligible, or are uncertain of your eligibility.

An Untimely Email
Faculty members received an unusual email on Saturday, giving everyone very short notice that we may now opt-out of on campus teaching, but also that accommodations must be requested by 5pm CST, Tuesday (TOMORROW). As has become a pattern this summer, UIC’s administration has taken some apparent action on union demands, but only through vague policy emails that leave more questions than they answer, and which arrive so late as to be nearly panic-inducing.

To add to the confusion, we’ve already heard from faculty, especially those in the College of Nursing, that their Dean claims this option does not apply to them. It is also unclear whether this option extends to duties in the Library, or other duties outside of the traditional classroom setting. UICUF is rapidly moving to investigate these issues and will communicate any updates ASAP.

One thing is clear however: if you wish to exercise your right to opt-out of on campus duties, you must do so IMMEDIATELY, regardless of uncertainty or perceived eligibility.

UICUF Will Back Members on Safety Decisions
For reasons we have discussed previously, UICUF remains deeply concerned about the safety of on-campus work, whether it is in a classroom, lab, studio, or in the library. The safety of our community is absolutely paramount, and to that end, we strongly recommend that our members exercise this option if you are in any doubt about your own safety or that of your community.

The union is committed to backing up our members on your decisions, up to and including filing grievances over denied requests for accommodation if necessary. If you want an accommodation, you should submit a written request to your supervisor before the deadline regardless of any uncertainty about eligibility. Even if you expect the request to be denied, a record of your request will improve the chances that we can successfully press your claim.

If you are uncertain about whether you can opt out, you have been told you are not eligible, or your request is denied for any reason, LET US KNOW IMMEDIATELY. We will continue to fight for universal opt-out discretion, both at the university level and for individuals at risk.

In Solidarity
UIC United Faculty

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11 Aug UIC Faculty Union Files Unfair Labor Practice Against Administration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 11, 2020

CONTACTS
Robert Johnston, UICUF Chief Steward
773-610-1442 robert.douglas.johnston@gmail.com

Charitianne Williams, UICUF Communications Chair
773-531-3265 charitianne@gmail.com

 

UIC Faculty Union Files Unfair Labor Practice Against Administration

Administration has violated its legal obligation to bargain in good faith over changed working conditions.

CHICAGO- The union representing UIC faculty has filed an unfair labor practice (ULP) over a summer compensation program enacted unilaterally by administration while under negotiation at the bargaining table. Rather than following faculty recommendations, the administration stated the money would go only to faculty preparing large online lecture courses for fall, but in fact the distribution of funds appears inconsistent and fraught with error.

This follows a set of ULPs filed simultaneously earlier in the summer for similar actions taken that the union feels have obstructed negotiations. The administration has failed to bargain in good faith over changes in faculty working conditions and the impact on union contracts. Top university officials at UIC have skipped scheduled meetings with faculty union representatives and refused to put agreements in writing.

In March, UIC United Faculty  (UICUF) indicated the intent to bargain over COVID-19 related workplace issues including health and safety, academic freedom, intellectual property, promotion timelines disrupted by the virus, and the reappointment of non-tenure track faculty let go prematurely due to fear of decreased enrollments.

“The health and safety of our members remains the priority,” says Aaron Krall, Executive Vice-President of UICUF and head of the bargaining team.

Trouble at the bargaining table has also prompted an emergency membership meeting this week for union members to discuss confidence in the administration’s plan to return to campus, faculty legal rights if assigned to teach on campus, and possible future actions for the union membership if progress is not made.

“Our concerns are not being addressed,” said Krall. “We worry how many faculty or students must fall ill or die before our demands are taken seriously.”

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

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