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05 Mar Facilities Shortcomings Highlighted by Faculty Survey

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  • This week, we look at the results of our Faculty Survey dealing with facilities, safety, and staff support.
  • We encourage all faculty to demonstrate support for SIEU, the workers who help maintain facilities and guard our safety, as they negotiate their new contract for fair pay and staffing.
  • UICUF Officer Elections will be held this April 13th and 14th for all elected positions in the union. Nomination forms are available on our website’s “People” page, and are due Monday, 3/30 by 5pm.

 

Last week, we closed our Faculty Satisfaction Survey and began sharing results. To get a deeper understanding of the survey, we’ll be reviewing each major section in their own segment over the next few weeks, starting with facilities and faculty support.

Deteriorating Facilities
Our first big question of the survey asked if there are physical conditions on campus that limit faculty’s ability to perform work duties, and an overwhelming 84% answered in the affirmative. By far the biggest portion of these cited deteriorating facilities, which just under half (49%) of faculty respondents complained about. In the most extreme examples, people have complained about buildings that are literally crumbling, or suffer from degraded utilities like broken elevators, poor air circulation, and damage to floors or walls. About a third (33%) pointed specifically to broken equipment, ranging from dead air conditioners and radiators, to defective classroom technology.

Lack of adequate temperature control was the second leading issue at 44% reporting issues with their workspaces being too hot or too cold. Only slightly less widespread, but perhaps more concerning, 42% of all respondents said they lacked sufficient office, lab, classroom, or meeting space fit for their functions.

Finally, while the reporting numbers are smaller, significant portions of the faculty have complained about lack of access to appropriate bathroom facilities (10%) and/or lack of accommodation for disabilities (5%). These issues in particular signal that we’ve still got work to do to create an inclusive environment for all UIC faculty and students.

Campus Safety Concerns
Safety continues to be a major area of faculty concern. Almost two thirds (63%) of faculty said they had safety concerns about one or more areas on campus, with nearly half (48%) stating that the parking lots are a particular issue. Some of these issues were raised in contract negotiations last year, but we were largely rebuffed by the Administration. We did secure a clause giving the union the opportunity to meet and confer on campus security, and we intend to exercise that prerogative in light of the widespread concerns we’re hearing.

Staffing Shortages
When asked if there was adequate staff support for faculty, over half (55%) said there was not, or that they weren’t sure. While we do not have a further breakdown of what lead to these answers, comments tended to describe difficulty getting offices and classrooms cleaned, as well as problems with technology support for classes. We know from our colleagues in SIEU, the union representing support staff, that they are chronically understaffed, and that the understaffing has even led to safety concerns among these workers. As a first step to better support for faculty, we hope you’ll demonstrate solidarity with these workers as they are currently negotiating for their own fair contract.  

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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 better place to work and learn!

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27 Feb Member Meeting Recap and Initial Survey Findings

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  • On Wednesday, we held our Spring Member Meeting!
  • Discussions included advocacy efforts locally, in the UI system and legislatively. We also heard some early findings from our recent faculty satisfaction survey.
  • Our survey is now closed and initial results show that there is a lot of work ahead to educate both faculty and administrators on faculty rights
  • UICUF Officer Elections will be held this April 13th and 14th for all elected positions in the union. Nomination forms are available on our website’s “People” page, and are due Monday, 3/30 by 5pm.

 

While we covered a lot of ground in our membership meeting this Wednesday, a few things definitely stood out.

Advocacy Efforts
First, though this is not a bargaining year, our committees are hard at work on initiatives to improve faculty working conditions. Our colleagues in the Faculty Senate reported back that progress is being made toward drafting resolutions that will add Teaching Professor ranks to the UI statutes, allowing current Instructors and Lecturers added opportunities for recognition and advancement. Work is also being done to increase the maximum multi-year appointment for NTT faculty in the statutes. Meanwhile, our COPE team is working concurrently to change state law to give NTT faculty notices of reappointment months earlier than currently required, and force the university to give written explanations for non-renewal.

Protecting Jobs
We also heard about a local victory by our union members in the Tutorium for Intensive English, a program jointly run by UIC and Shorelight Education LLC. This program has been managed in partnership with Shorelight, but UIC faculty provide the actual classroom work that makes the program run. Recently however, these faculty members became aware that plans were under consideration to outsource their work, in violation of their contracts. With assistance from UICUF, the TIE faculty were successfully able to push back and quash any further speculation about eliminating their positions, a major win for both TIE faculty and the union!

 

Initial Survey Findings
Our survey to gauge faculty satisfaction and program adherence to our contract is now closed, and we do have some interesting results to share. We’ll dive much deeper into individual colleges and departments in the future, but it became immediately apparent that a few big issues stand out:

  • 85% of faculty say that one or more issues related to physical facilities are interfering with their work.
  • As much as 20% of the bargaining unit may not be getting yearly evaluations,
  • Nearly 40% feel uncertain whether they can express dissenting opinions in their academic units without reprisal.

 

Some of the most disturbing results came regarding academic freedom. At least 5% of faculty responded that they were pressured by a supervisor to change grades or grading curves. We will be discussing this particular outcome and its implications in much greater detail in future messages. Faculty urgently need to join the conversation about the factors leading to grade pressures and student support at UIC, and how these issues should be addressed.

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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 better place to work and learn!

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19 Feb UICUF Membership Meeting and Survey Extension

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  • Membership Meeting: Our Spring Membership Meeting is coming up next Wednesday, 2/26, 3:30-5pm, at Hull House. You can become a union member at the door!
  • We will preview survey results, discuss upcoming officer elections, and launch a legislative advocacy campaign on UI budget equity
  • Faculty Survey deadlines have been extended to midnight, Sunday 2/23 to give more time for faculty participation. Email us if you didn’t get one!
  • UICUF Officer Elections will be held this April 13th and 14th for all elected positions in the union. Nomination forms are available on our website’s “People” page, and are due Monday, 3/30 by 5pm.

 

Member Meeting
UICUF holds a membership meeting each semester to inform and engage our members in the ongoing efforts of the union. Our Spring Membership meeting is coming up NEXT WEDNESDAY, 2/26/20, and we hope to see many of you there! As always, members will be welcome to stay after for a reception with light refreshments to meet their fellow members and the union’s leadership and staff. Membership meetings are members-only events, but anyone in our bargaining unit can sign up to join the union at the door if they wish to attend!

This semester, we will be sharing preliminary results from our Faculty Satisfaction Survey (deadline extended, see below for more details), and launching an advocacy campaign around creating greater inter-campus equity in the U of I system’s budgeting process. We have been told time and again in bargaining that the university has no money, even as it is clear that the system has plenty of money to spend on other priorities and in other places, where incidentally, our fellow unionists are also being told there is no money! Pushing for greater budget transparency and equity in distribution is not just a bureaucratic shuffle, but a necessary first step in pushing for a model that takes into account the distinct needs of UIC students, who require greater financial assistance on average than UIUC students to pursue their degrees. Taking a close look at the system’s budgeting model will also better position us to fight for the needs of students and faculty next time we’re at the bargaining table.

Faculty Survey Deadline Extended
As you’ve likely already noticed, we have been running a Faculty Satisfaction Survey over the last couple of weeks. While the survey was scheduled to close yesterday, we have chosen to extend the deadline through the weekend to allow more faculty to participate. This survey is open to all faculty in our bargaining unit, regardless of whether they are or are not a union member, and covers questions on shared governance, academic freedom and facilities. Your input will help us identify what is and isn’t working for faculty at UIC.

Check your email for the survey invitation, or contact us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com if you need help getting access.

UICUF Officer Elections
We are currently accepting nominations for UICUF officers and Reps, with elections coming in April. Any faculty member who has signed up to be a UICUF member is eligible to vote or run for office. Nominations and endorsements should be submitted electronically via the forms below, which are also available on our website’s “People” page.

  • Executive Board
  • Representative Assembly:

 

Nomination forms must be submitted by 5pm, Monday, March 30th. The election will be conducted April 13th – 14th.

Benefits Highlight
As UICUF Members, you are entitled to benefits from all of our affiliate unions, including the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the American Federation of Teachers, and the American Association of University Professors.

Today, we want to highlight a free program through the American Federation of Teachers that provides free identity theft protection to our members. In partnership with CLC ID Protect, AFT is offering basic identity theft protection through their website. This is just one of many free and reduced-price benefits our affiliates have to offer, and you can learn more about ways to save at https://www.unionplus.org/!

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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 better place to work and learn!

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13 Feb UICUF Officer Elections and Free Speech on Campus

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  • Campus Conversation on Free Speech: The Provost is hosting a discussion Thursday, Feb. 13, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in the Illinois Rooms, Student Center East.
  • Faculty Surveys are out and we need your participation to get the best results! Email us if you didn’t get one!
  • UICUF Officer Elections will be held this April 13th and 14th for all elected positions in the union. Nomination forms are available on our website’s “People” page, and are due Monday, 3/30 by 5pm.

Campus Conversation on Free Speech
Provost Poser has announced that the university will hold a Campus Conversation concerning the contours of free speech on campus this week. The discussion will be held Thursday, Feb. 13, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in the Illinois Rooms, Student Center East. Legal scholars will weigh in, and Q&A is welcome. We highly encourage you to participate, or tune in via youtube live at UIC’S YouTube channel.

Faculty Surveys
We’re surveying everyone in our bargaining unit, and your participation will give us a much better understanding of what’s working and what’s not at UIC today. Topics covered include Academic Freedom, Facility maintenance, and Shared Governance. Check your email for an invitation to take the survey!

UICUF Officer Elections
We’ve just mailed the official announcement that the terms for our current UICUF officers and Reps will be expiring soon. Pursuant to our Constitution, nominations are now being accepted for the positions listed below.  Descriptions of the duties of these offices can be found on the nomination forms and under Article VI of our Constitution.

Executive Board Positions

  • President
  • Executive Vice President
  • Secretary (no election; filled by immediate past-president)
  • Treasurer
  • Vice President for Tenure System Faculty
  • Vice President for Non-Tenure Track Faculty
  • Vice President Chief Steward

Representative Assembly Seats

SEATS  COLLEGE/GROUPING
1  Applied Health Sciences
2  Architecture, Design & the Arts
1  Business Administration
1  Education
2  Engineering
4  LAS / Humanities & Interdisciplinary Programs
3  LAS / Natural Sciences
2  LAS / Social & Behavioral Sciences
1  Library
2  Nursing
2  Public Health
1  Tutorium in Intensive English
1  Social Work
1  Urban Planning & Public Affairs

 

Any faculty member who has signed up to be a UICUF member is eligible to vote or run for office. Nominations and endorsements are submitted electronically via the forms below, which are also available on our website’s “People” page.

 

Nomination forms must be submitted by 5pm, Monday, March 30th. The election will be conducted April 13th – 14th.

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We issue regular updates via email, FacebookTwitterYouTube, 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!

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07 Feb 2020 Faculty Satisfaction Survey Now Live!

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  • UICUF just released our 2020 Faculty Satisfaction Survey to all bargaining unit members. Check your email for an invitation to participate.
  • This survey will help us track faculty satisfaction and contract implementation around key issues.
  • SAVE THE DATE: Our Spring Membership Meeting is 3:30-5pm, Wednesday, 2/26/20.
  • Email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com if you did not receive a survey link, and/or to RSVP to the member meeting!

 

A Survey About Satisfaction, and Our Contract
While you may expect to see surveys from the union leading up to contract negotiations, gauging satisfaction and the effectiveness of contract implementation in between bargaining is equally important. We’ve just released a survey to help us better understand how faculty are feeling about the university and UICUF, and to learn if hard-won rights now enshrined in our contract are actually being implemented.

The survey asks questions in three broad categories: Physical facilities, academic freedom, and shared governance. Appropriate facilities, whether that be convenient lactation areas or simply clean and functional classrooms, can have a major impact on the working environment of faculty, and the learning environment for students. Meanwhile, Academic Freedom is critical to all we say and do in our classrooms, research and service. UICUF is committed to gathering more information so we can effectively push back on any erosion of this important right. Finally, shared governance is a cornerstone of academic decision-making, and is now also a cornerstone of how our contract is implemented, making it’s even and appropriate application even more important. We want to encourage faculty to think about these issues, and whether your rights are being taken seriously, so we can make a candid assessment of whether things are improving, or need more work.

Spring Membership Meeting
As we do each semester, we will be holding a Spring Membership meeting, from 3:30-5pm, Wednesday, February 26th, at Hull House, followed by a reception. You must be a member to attend, but faculty can join at the door if they wish to participate.

This semester we’ll be discussing advocacy campaigns here at UIC, the UI system, and the state legislature. We’ll also have more information about the upcoming UICUF Officer Elections, and will consider proposals for updating dues reduction rules that affect our lowest paid members. We hope you’ll join us for the meeting, and stay for a reception with light refreshments afterwards!

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We issue regular updates via email, FacebookTwitterYouTube, 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!

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31 Jan UICUF Wants You To Vote!

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  • This year, we will be voting for everything from state legislators to US President, and UICUF strongly encourages all of our members to vote!
  • Registration deadlines for the March primaries are coming up 2/18. Online registration is available until 2/29.
  • It’s a great time to join our Committee on Political Education for as little as $1/mo.
  • UICUF Officer and Rep elections will also be run this semester by members of our Election Committee. Contact UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com to help with the elections!

 

Get Ready to Vote!
As a union that stresses democratic participation in our workplace, we’d be remiss if we didn’t urge every member to participate in local and national elections as well. For most, the next big round of contests will be the State Primaries on March 17th. Of course, in order to vote, you need to be registered, so this is our first reminder to make sure you take this necessary step. This is particularly important if you or anyone in your life has recently moved, or just turned 18. To vote in the Illinois Primaries you should ideally register by 2/18. If you’re uncertain whether you are registered, you can check online.

Do More with UICUF COPE
If you want to get more involved in how our union endorses and supports state and local candidates (we do not intend to independently endorse in national races), join our Committee on Political Education for as little as $1 a month. COPE is an independent group which, unlike UICUF, can raise and donate money to political campaigns. This gives our members the peace of mind knowing that dues never go toward paying for political candidates, while offering the opportunity for faculty to voluntarily pool resources in support of races that will affect higher education.* The COPE Board of Trustees is currently assessing which candidate(s) to endorse for the March 17 Illinois primary. Any questions about the UICUF COPE can be directed to uicufcope@gmail.com.

UICUF Officer and Rep Elections
UICUF will be holding our own elections this year, so look out for the official announcement by mail in the next two weeks. Since our internal elections are run by a committee of members who neither hold, nor intend to seek, elected positions within the union, we are currently looking for faculty to volunteer. This is a short-term commitment that is central to the democratic functioning of our union, and participating members will be supported by our experienced staff at each step of the process. Contact us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com if you’re interested in joining this committee.

Tentative dates for UICUF’s election cycle are as follows:

  • Notice of Elections sent by mail no later than 2/17
  • Nominations closed and polling information posted by 3/30
  • Elections held 4/13-4/14

We hope you will take the time this year to participate in the democratic process at all levels!

 

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*Contributions or gifts to the UICUF COPE qualified fund are not tax deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. A copy of our report filed with the State Board of Elections is available on the Board’s official website, www.elections.il.gov, or for purchase from the State Board of Elections, Springfield, Illinois.

We issue regular updates via email, FacebookTwitterYouTube, 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!

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23 Jan Killeen Windfall Stands Out Amid Staffing Concerns

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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.

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We issue regular updates via email, FacebookTwitterYouTube, 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!

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15 Jan UI Holds Back Yet Another Union Contract

**Visiting Faculty are invited to join our first meeting of the Visiting Faculty Caucus**
**10-11:30am, Friday, 1/24/20 @UICUF Offices, 1016 W. Jackson Blvd**
**to discuss and address issues specific to visiting titles at UIC**

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  • ACTION: UICUF Faculty are invited to join a demonstration at the Board of Trustees meeting TOMORROW – 10:15, Thursday, 1/16/20 @Lobby of Student Center West.
  • SEIU is negotiating several contracts, seeking to address chronic understaffing which has led to safety concerns and contributed to the death of a union member.
  • UI Labor Relations are once again holding back an agreement on a fair contract.
  • The UI System has a history of unproductive bargaining practices that have led to at least 18 strike authorizations and 9 actual work stoppages in the last 10 years.

 

The Semester has barely begun, but UI Labor Relations seems determined to start the year with their signature intransigence in negotiating labor contracts, this time with our fellow workers in SEIU Local 73. SEIU is currently bargaining for four different units of support staff, including civil service professionals, clerical staff, and service, maintenance, and technical staff.

Among other issues, SEIU is seeking to ameliorate chronic understaffing, which they report as being as low as 2/3rds of minimum requirements in some units. The low staffing levels seem to be symptomatic of what even HR acknowledges as substandard compensation. Even more concerning, understaffing has contributed to unsafe working conditions which in turn may have contributed to the death of an SEIU union member. Needless to say, if unsafe conditions killed a faculty member, we would have little patience for counterproductive negotiating tactics at the bargaining table.

To push back, SEIU members and allies, including faculty members, will be holding a rally at the Board of Trustees meeting at Student Center West this Thursday, 1/16/20. The UI system’s Labor Relations department has an unenviable record of pursuing negotiating tactics that court conflict with the university’s unions, and we will demand, once again, that the Board of Trustees take notice. Labor Relations represent the Board of Trustees in their dealings with UIC’s unions, and we hope to make it clear to the Board that their problematic stance toward organized labor must change.

Other Issues to Watch for at the BoT Meeting
Among other things, we expect the Board to announce that President Killeen will be offered a 40% raise and a 4-year contract extension. That is roughly what it would cost to hire 5 new full-time faculty, or pay for 18,000 hours of wages for security guards or other badly needed support staff. The Board will also be discussing tuition rates, which we expect will remain flat this year, virtually guaranteeing that UIC will raise fees. We’ll return to these issues in much greater detail in next week’s update.

Setting a Positive Example
Meanwhile, UICUF is proud to announce that we are trying to set our own good example for labor negotiations, as we can now report the signing of our first ever staff union contract! Unlike the grinding year-long process of negotiating with UI Labor Relations, negotiations with our newly unionized staff was acknowledge by both sides to be efficient and fair. We are particularly pleased with anti-bullying language that we’ve jointly crafted, which we hope will be a benchmark for other contracts in the future. Full disclosure: both staff and UICUF members contributed to this weekly message.

A Caucus for Visiting Faculty
Over the years, UICUF has noted an increasing prevalence of visiting faculty at our university, and we recognize that members with visiting titles have their own issues and concerns that may not affect others in the same ways. To dive into these issues, we are convening a Visiting Faculty Caucus, and encouraging our members with visiting titles to attend. Through discussing shared experiences and concerns, we can start to organize around what really matters to visiting faculty! You can join us from 10-11:30am NEXT FRIDAY, 1/24/20 @the UICUF office, 1016 W. Jackson Blvd. Please RSVP or send any questions to UICUFSophie@gmail.com.

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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 better place to work and learn!

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09 Jan Spring Semester Solidarity

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  • UICUF wants to welcome all our members back for Spring Semester!
  • We will continue focusing on Shared Governance with a university-wide survey, and ongoing trainings on contract implementation
  • IFT is hosting candidate forums for local primaries RIGHT NOW, and our Committee on Political Education (COPE) will be keeping you informed throughout the year on elections and issues.
  • We will also be holding our own elections this semester for Executive Board and Representative Assembly.

 

First, UIC United Faculty wants to extend a warm welcome back to all our members as we begin a new year and our Spring Semester! Looking back, we accomplished so much last year, and we intend to carry forward with a strong program this year as well. This Spring, we will continue our focus on shared governance at the academic unit level, and give our members plenty of opportunities to engage with union efforts, and particularly with the political process in this important election year.

Shared Governance Transparency and Implementation
We’ve written a lot about shared governance this academic year, especially in light of the many new provisions we won in our contract that clearly state where faculty input is required. We’ve done several know-your-contract trainings by unit, and will continue offering tailored workshops to help your academic unit (school/department/division) fully take advantage of these new rights. If you would like to hold a training in your unit, please reach out to Jeff at uicufjeff@gmail.com or Sophie at uicufsophie@gmail.com.

We will also be conducting a shared governance survey open to all faculty this semester to better identify issues in need of further consideration, attention or education across the university. We will be relying on our members not only to respond to the survey, but to encourage colleagues to give their honest input as well, so keep an eye out for notifications by email letting you know the survey dates!

Political Engagement and Our Committee On Political Education
You may recall that we created an official Committee on Political Education in June 2018, with the purview to educate faculty and the community about political issues affecting higher education. They also have the power to raise money (separate from union dues which are never used for political campaigns), and endorse/contribute to local political candidates that prioritize support for public higher education in Illinois.

While our local’s COPE will remain tightly focused on local political races that could have a direct impact on UIC, our state and national affiliates, IFT, AFT, and AAUP will all be working at various levels to keep members engaged and informed on the political process in this important election year. IFT is holding candidate forums RIGHT NOW for state House and Senate primaries which will take place on March 17, and we encourage you to attend in your legislative district if you are able.

UICUF Elections
In addition to it being a major year for state and national elections, UICUF will be demonstrating our democratic values as a union by holding our own elections at the end of April. This is your opportunity to vote (or run) for positions on the Executive Board and Representative Assembly, which lead our union. We will be convening an elections committee shortly to set up and manage the election, and we’ll need volunteers to help! If you aren’t planning on running for other offices, we highly encourage you to contact us about getting involved as an election committee member!

2019 was a busy and successful year for faculty at UIC, and we’re looking forward to working with all of you in making 2020 even better! If you have questions, want to set up a shared governance workshop for your department, or want to get involved with UICUF’s COPE, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

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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 better place to work and learn!

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12 Dec Decisions Subject to Shared Governance

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  • Some decisions at the academic unit level MUST be subject to shared governance per our union contract.
  • In addition to review by an Advisory or Executive committee and/or vote of the full faculty, many of these policies must comply with specific standards across the university.
  • UICUF leaders and staff are available to work with members on understanding and applying shared governance rights in your units. Contact UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com if interested.

 

Last week we discussed some of the rudimentary structures of shared governance at the academic unit level, such as the requirements that all units have accessible bylaws and elected advisory or executive committees. This week we will consider the types of decisions our latest contract mandates be subject to shared governance at the academic unit level, and what guidelines those processes must follow.

Our contract, as well as university statutes, have always indicated situations in which shared governance MUST be applied, like the curriculum, faculty hiring, and standards for tenure, and promotion. Other decision making processes commonly incorporate shared governance by tradition if not contractual obligation. To ensure that faculty are able to get the most out of their right to participate in shared governance, we highlight three new issues below.

Defining Workloads
Per the new UIC United Faculty contract, every academic unit is REQUIRED to set a workload policy through shared governance processes. This is something university negotiators strongly resisted, and we had proposed this precisely because we had seen areas where administrators had been imposing increased teaching loads unilaterally. In some areas this will take assertive action, and UICUF leadership and staff stand prepared to assist you with implementation. Specifically, per Article XII.B of the faculty contract, these policies must “include a teaching statement that sets clear expectations for the teaching assignments, including course load and class size.” Moreover, these expectations can’t be changed without review via shared governance, so they can’t be updated unilaterally by administration without consultation.

Evaluation Criteria
Annual evaluations are another area for shared governance that units need to (re)visit in light of our latest contract. Our contract reiterates prior university policy that there be “a formal process that is open and equitable,”  and goes on to establish that “student evaluation data shall not be considered in isolation….” The specific criteria included in teaching evaluations in your unit will depend upon what you determine through the shared governance process, though its important to remember that UIC does have guidelines on evaluations that must be followed.

NTT Reappointment
New to our contract this year is the requirement that all units have procedures written into their bylaws that govern the reappointment of non-tenure track faculty. We have seen some cases in the past where a lone administrator made what appeared to us an arbitrary decision to not reappoint a faculty member. This decision making ought to be guided by clear policies, and be accountable to faculty.

But isn’t it All “Merely Advisory”?
The exact nature of the shared governance process will differ from unit to unit, based on what faculty think they need, but must ultimately involve decisions/recommendations being made by a vote of the full faculty, or by an elected Executive/Advisory Committee. Processes and resulting policies must be transparent and accessible to faculty. As the above matters are contractual obligations for university administration, failure to set such policies through appropriate shared governance principles is a contract violation which could be grieved by the union.

We understand that being “advisory” does not assure an executive officer for a unit will follow what faculty develop. However, we believe that the fact that the administration resisted contract language requiring shared governance in setting workload policy indicates that they do take it seriously. And we know that for most units on our campus, these things in fact do matter to many administrators. It is our responsibility to bring forward these requirements and self-organize our faculty to get them implemented. We have seen how the shared governance process can be an effective means for organizing your colleagues, and UICUF leaders and staff can help advise and support you around the specifics of your issues and processes.

If you have questions about how assert your rights to shared governance driven decision-making, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

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