Campus Unions Unite for Answers
On July 24th, UIC United Faculty, along with two dozen representatives from our fellow unions, GEO, SEIU and INA, visited the administration’s Labor Relations office. By that time, we had already spent several months trying to negotiate with LR on common-sense policy updates related to the Janus ruling. Particularly at stake was the timely and accurate inclusion of new members, and the exclusion of non-members on dues deduction.
A month after the ruling, LR had not agreed to a mutually workable dues policy, and they appeared to be implementing their own policy changes without informing, much less consulting with, our unions. When our repeated efforts to have them disclose these policy changes were ignored, we felt we needed to take stronger action. That day, we walked into the LR offices to read our demands, and emailed the letter to the head of LR for good measure.
Labor Relations Responds
It’s now clear that Labor Relations did get the message. We were somewhat surprised at how quickly our action elicited a response!
We were also disappointed by the response we finally did get back from the Head of LR, which was blustery and riddled with inaccuracies. We conferred with our fellow unions, and together issued a level-headed follow up, asking for clarification on LR’s erroneous claims. So far, we have not heard back.
In the spirit of openness, here are Labor Relations’ response on post Janus dues deduction and our union coalition’s follow-up to that response.
What Happens Now?
So what *did* we get out of this excursion? Some answers, at least as to how Labor Relations views their responsibility toward campus unions and union members. It’s now very clear we will have to take further action vis-à-vis our own contract, and possibly through legal channels to ensure the protection of our membership. Indeed, it seems clear from their response that LR is inviting such action.
We are now also suddenly in receipt of payroll data that we were essentially told couldn’t be provided prior to this point. That data shows pretty clearly that our action to have the university honor new union memberships in a timely manner WORKED. We should see the proof of that in the next payroll
While the effort to protect our members’ paychecks from petty Labor Relations games will doubtless continue, we consider this a definitive step toward a positive resolution.
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Our next contract bargaining session is Wednesday, August 23rd. In the interim, we will continue to post weekly articles on topics of critical interest to our membership. Look out next week for an overview of student evaluations, how they’re used here at UIC and elsewhere, and the best practices we hope to win for our university in the future.
For the duration of the bargaining process, we will be issuing periodic updates via email, facebook, twitter, and here on our website. We strongly encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. With your support, we can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!