- Last week, the UI Board of Trustees announced a windfall contract extension for system President Killeen, including a 40% raise
- Mere feet away, union members demonstrated against underpaying and understaffing support and service positions
- Even our award-winning faculty are being nickeled and dimed, as we are currently fighting to have the university honor salary increases related to teaching awards
- When the system’s best-paid employee is so richly rewarded, while others are forced to struggle for a fair wage, it becomes clear the Board’s priorities need re-examination
Stark Contrast: As UI President Killeen is Rewarded, Workers Left Behind
Last week we reported our expectations for the Board of Trustees meeting in Chicago. This included a vote to raise tuition for Fall 2020 and the President’s salary a whopping 40%. While some board members challenged the tuition increase, no one questioned paying the president $835,000 a year for the next four years. This, while promising administrative cost savings and while union members demonstrated just a few feet away over low pay and understaffing of service and support positions. Talk about a study in contrast.
What it Takes to Get a Fair Contract (If You’re a Worker)
We here at UIC United Faculty are frustrated with these developments, to say the least. We have all experienced how hard this institution will fight to keep from paying workers what they deserve, from custodial staff to full professors. You can see in the image above the wisdom that U of I unions have earned the hard way, that to get a fair deal, a strike has to at least be on the table. SEIU is currently bargaining four contracts, but the tone-deaf display at last Thursday’s meeting leaves little hope for an amicable and timely resolution. Given recent history, a strike authorization seems to be required before U of I will even start talking about a fair deal–if you’re a worker.
Even Our Best and Brightest
While some reap magnificent rewards simply for doing their jobs, others are not even able to keep the rewards they’ve won for exemplary work recognized by the university! The highly competitive Teaching Recognition Program awards a handful of best-in-class faculty each year with a permanent bump in their base pay.
Since our first contract, which raised up the base of many NTT faculty, UICUF has repeatedly had to intervene because UIC administrators refuse to add the value of the award to the new base. One of our lowest paid members has had this happen twice! After fighting and winning it back during our first contract, we are at it again – this time for two of our faculty members, whose rights we defended this week in a grievance at Level 3 (Provost). To justify their miserly position in the hearing, the administration stuck with a different definition of base – one that arbitrarily nullifies award-based raises if a faculty member later gets a raise-to-minimum salary increase. The administration’s decision de facto harms lower-paid faculty, and simultaneously gives a painfully honest assessment of how they truly value excellence in teaching: only at their own convenience.
Despite both having excellent records, characterized by consistently going above and beyond what is expected (and we know that the bar keeps rising), and having been publicly honored by UIC, the university is actively fighting to give these faculty less than they’ve earned. Why should these faculty have to grieve to just keep what they have earned and rightfully deserve? Adding insult to injury, the value of both awards, carried over their whole career won’t amount to a fraction of what UI President Killeen was just given for even a single year of his new contract. Needless to say – but we will anyway — the U of I Board needs to seriously reflect on their priorities.
We issue regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and on our website. We encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. If you want to contribute your story, pictures, video, or other content related to the activities of the union, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com. With your support, we are making UIC an even better place to work and learn!