10 Apr Impact Bargaining: NTT Retention and a Seat at the Table
- UICUF sat down for a second meeting with the Administration this Thursday to bargain the impact of COVID19 on faculty working conditions.
- We’ve already won some victories over the last several weeks since bringing our demands to the Administration, and have new movement on other items, like reaffirming intellectual property rights.
- Despite some additional agreements around items like extending tenure clocks, we are still advocating for a broad commitment to faculty retention and for a seat at the table on decisions affecting faculty.
A Good Start
UIC United Faculty sat down via Zoom for our second session with the Administration Thursday, to bargain over the impact of COVID-19 on faculty working conditions. Over the weeks since we presented our demands, the Administration has updated policies or changed direction on a number of issues. Some examples include closing the library after union faculty organized against reopening under unsafe conditions, and clamping down on questionable work-from-home agreements that were being demanded by some departments.
New Agreements and Understandings
Today we secured some additional agreements and confirmed understandings on issues we’d been advocating on over the last few weeks:
- Provost Poser agreed to proactively remind Deans of faculty members’ exclusive intellectual property rights to course content, including classes made for online delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Provost said that equipment and technology purchased to aid in online course presentation are reimbursable under the new CARE Act. If you have made such purchases, we recommend submitting those expenses to your unit head or business office ASAP with a note that they are related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Nancy Freitag welcomed suggestions from us on some alternative ways contractually mandated professional development (PD) funds may be used while conference travel remains disrupted. If you have ideas to contribute, please send them to UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com
- Probationary faculty can now opt-in to extend their promotion and tenure clocks by up to a year. We’ve also confirmed that this will NOT impact a faculty member’s options for roll-back or hold of their clocks for future interruptions. IMPORTANT NOTE: the first deadline for filing your extension paperwork is May 15th. Please check the above link to see if the May 15th deadline applies to you!
We still have a number of significant issues to work out, the most important of which is a broad commitment to faculty retention. UICUF has asked that the administration commit to re-appointing NTT faculty for the next academic year, both to protect the jobs of faculty members in this time of uncertainty, and to ensure UIC is prepared to meet student needs in the fall and beyond.
We understand that the university is in a place of great uncertainty around budgets and enrollment, but fulfilling UIC’s educational mission by retaining excellent faculty must be a top priority. Beyond protecting faculty jobs, we believe it’s critically important to plan for a future in which enrollment may rebound or even surge. The Administration should demonstrate its commitment to teaching by protecting UIC’s most precarious faculty members, many of whom teach first year classes. It is also possible that in-person courses may resume under new social distancing guidelines, necessitating more sections for the same number of students. Since the administration has expressed the importance of returning to physical classrooms and in-person, hands-on education in the future, it seems counter-intuitive not to prioritize retention of our exceptional faculty now.
A Seat at the Table
We appreciate that the Administration has had to move quickly to make important decisions in the context of the covid-19 pandemic, and that it will need to continue to do so as conditions continue to change. At the same time, UICUF leadership has conveyed to the Administration our need to be involved in that decision making in a proactive manner, so that we are not left simply reacting to their decisions, as happened with their initial decision to reopen the Library after spring break. Union representatives will bring the perspectives of front-line faculty, and they are uniquely suited to understand how changes in working conditions interact with the terms of our collective bargaining agreement. Any administrative decision affecting our working conditions or other terms of our contract must be formally bargained, but proactive consultation with UICUF before decisions are made will make that process much smoother.
We have not set a return date for bargaining, but will continue to advocate for faculty, and keep you informed of your rights.
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!