Heroes and Scabs
Dear UICUF Members,
Record-breaking numbers of UIC workers have gone on strike this week, including nurses and service workers. They are continuing their fights for fair contracts that include safe staffing levels, access to appropriate PPE, fair pay, and job security. All this after 5 deaths and hundreds sickened by COVID-19 (including some who suffered weeks on respirators). Our colleagues and comrades have been working on expired contracts for anywhere from 6 months to a year without meaningful progress in negotiations. Our own member, Jeff Schuhrke, has penned an excellent article explaining the strike, its causes, and its impacts, if you want to learn more.
Appalling Strike-Breaking Tactics
UICUF has just released a public statement denouncing the administration’s costly and dangerous choice to fight their workers rather than treat them with respect. Even as UIC publicly describes their workers as “heroes” for their essential roles in combating the global pandemic, they’ve put forth insultingly little in negotiations. Just a few days ago this week, admin was pushing a 0% raise for 2020 for some workers, only walking back this position after days of pressure from the strike.
Instead of negotiating in good faith, however, UIC has initiated appalling strike-breaking tactics, more reminiscent of the 1920’s than something we should expect in 2020. In particular, they have chosen to spend money they could’ve used for protective equipment and fair wages to hire strike-breaking scabs. These scab workers will end up doing the work UIC’s own employees are now refusing to do because of the deadly conditions and pay below Chicago’s minimum wage. Some of these scabs are even alleged to be coming from states currently under 14-day quarantine orders, though UIC administrators deny the allegation.
Record Enrollments are Cold Comfort to Faculty Denied Timely Renewals
Meanwhile, on the academic side, UIC has been joyously touting record enrollments this year. While this is indeed a good thing, such a celebration completely ignores admin’s hand-wringing about reappointments that pushed hundreds of faculty into dire uncertainty over job security this summer. This only deepens the sense that our administration views their employees, whether faculty on east campus or nurses at the hospital, as just-in-time commodities, rather than individuals who are invested in making UIC a great place to work and learn. We all deserve dignity and respect at work, and to have UIC invest in us the way we invest in our work. Until the UIC administration takes this to heart, all our unions and union members will continue fighting for contractual rights.
Supporting the Strikes
If you want to help support the strikers, INA/SEIU have scheduled multiple events this weekend, and Chicago Jobs With Justice have started a Bread for Ed and Med fundraiser to keep striking families healthy and whole.
Bread for Ed and Med:
UIC United Faculty
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!