News

13 Feb UIC United Faculty Calls for Mediation

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  • UICUF Negotiators call for mediation, citing lack of progress on most critical issues
  • Mediation is intended to clarify and overcome sticking points in negotiations
  • The move underscores the urgency of addressing core issues after 8 months at the table
  • MEMBER MEETING: Wed, 2/20, 3:30-5pm @SCE, 3rd floor, Cardinal Rm
  • BARGAINING SESSION 18: Fri, 2/22, 1-4pm @SCE Tower, Rm 603


What’s Missing?
Faculty and the Administration continued having robust conversations around our proposals at the bargaining table last Friday, but something was still missing. Absent from the proceedings was any hint at compromise on some of the most consequential issues on the table, like raise pools. Admin negotiators, for example, insist on pegging merit pools to Campus Wage, which would put the figures well below inflation for the year. They simply haven’t moved an inch on raise pools, despite having returned several counter proposals on this article already. They also won’t discuss protections for health and retirement plans.

Meanwhile, Admin’s bait-and-switch tactics, like demanding repeated rewrites of discipline and academic freedom articles, only to discard them without comment, has caused deep concern among our team. We are certainly happy to see a surge of progress at the table recently, but we should have been having these conversations months ago, and are still far from an agreement.

A Call for Mediation
That’s why we have asked the Admin team to join us in requesting a 3rd party mediator to join the process. This is both a practical and technical step that we believe is necessary to move forward. On the practical side, it is our hope that a mediator will help cut through any confusion, and get negotiations on track where they have been stalling. Attempting mediation is, however, also a required step before a strike vote can be called. This move underscores the seriousness of our position in these negotiations: after 8 months of bargaining, failure to constructively address core issues is no longer an option.  

For those interested in the full briefing on bargaining, why we’ve taken this step, and what comes next, we will have an All-Members Meeting on Wednesday, 2/20, 3:30-5pm @SCE, Third Floor, Cardinal Room. RSVP to UICUFJeff@gmail.com if you are able to attend.

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Until we win a fair contract, we will be issuing regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and here 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 can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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06 Feb The Union is You

UICUF WEHEARTUIC

As we bargain, participating in events gives you a voice in the process, and strengthens our negotiating position. Here are a few opportunities to participate in February:

  • BARGAINING SESSION 17: Fri, 2/8, 1-4pm @SCE, 3rd floor, White Oak Room AB
  • MEMBER MEETING: Wed, 2/20, 3:30-5pm @SCE, 3rd floor, Cardinal Rm
  • BARGAINING SESSION 18: Fri, 2/22, 1-4pm @SCE Tower, Rm 603
  • RSVP to UICUFJeff@gmail.com


Members Win Contracts
Across the country, unions are winning contracts that improve conditions not only for members, but for the communities they serve. From the LA teachers, who struck for fair pay and better staffing in their schools, to the Wright State faculty, who refuse to let administration’s financial mismanagement be balanced on the backs of staff and students, this movement is driven by solidarity: Regular members, with no formal union role, taking action alongside their colleagues.

Our bargaining team is doing a great job leading our own negotiations, but the participation of regular members is what will help them win the fair contract we deserve. Rank-and-file members signalled their priorities from the start of the process, and have been observing bargaining sessions, caucusing with our team, and providing testimony. It was also regular members who recently turned out en masse for informational pickets, and demonstrations at BoT meetings.

It’s Up To You
As negotiations continue, we need more union members like you to join in solidarity with this effort. Every action, from proudly wearing a UICUF button on bargaining days, to attending our next membership meeting, demonstrates our commitment to improving conditions at UIC.

We have 2 bargaining sessions coming up (2/8, 2/22), and a critical all-members meeting (2/20) on the future of our contract campaign. With Admin offering below-inflation raises, and lowering expectations on shared governance and academic freedom, we are considering all options to win the contract we deserve. Participating in union events gives you a voice in those decisions, and strengthens our collective power to win on the issues you care about most.

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Until we win a fair contract, we will be issuing regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and here 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 can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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31 Jan Negotiations Gaining Momentum, But Not Where It Matters Most

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  • MEMBER MEETING: Contract campaign check-in, 3:30-5pm, 2/20, @SCE, 3rd floor, Cardinal Rm. RSVP to UICUFJeff@gmail.com.
  • Both sides building momentum toward agreement on key issues
  • Admin still intractable on below-inflation raises, caught moving goalpost on other items


This is What Bargaining Should Look Like
Faculty and Administration negotiators had another round of meaningful movement on key issues in bargaining this Tuesday. Coming from half a year of gridlock, this is actually what we think bargaining should look like. While there still is some distance to cover, agreements to protect faculty workloads, mitigate punitive uses of our flawed student evaluation system, and raise the floor for our lowest paid faculty may be within reach.

Admin Sticks with Meager Merit Raise Proposal, Inconsistent on Other Positions
Meanwhile, Admin offered once again its same salary proposal, which is below inflation. They also refused to consider mitigating increases should the state raise healthcare costs. Their justification: we don’t have the money to provide robust raises and hire new tenure-lines. But that rhetoric doesn’t match their bargaining positions because they also have dismissed our article specifying the hiring of new tenure-track faculty. The message is pretty clear: despite plans to up enrollment by 15%, and to find $1 BILLION DOLLARS to pay for new facilities by increasing fees on students, they won’t commit to growing faculty salaries or numbers.  

Admin also moved the goalpost on academic freedom. For months, they’ve claimed the protections we’ve sought would infringe on the role of the Senate. After ensuring our proposals preserve and strengthen the Senate’s voice, however, we are now being told these protections infringe on the Board’s discretion to fire faculty. This begs the question of what academic freedom really means at UIC. Clearly we have a ways to go before finalizing this contract.

Critical Member Meeting on Contract Negotiations Scheduled
UICUF has scheduled a critical membership meeting to discuss the progress (or lack thereof) in contract negotiations. We urge faculty to attend, as important decisions on the direction of negotiations and the contract campaign will be considered. The meeting will be held from 3:30-5pm, Wednesday, February 20th, at Student Center East, third floor, in the Cardinal Room.   

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Until we win a fair contract, we will be issuing regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and here 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 can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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25 Jan Tentative Movement in Negotiations, Long Journey Still Ahead

UICUF WEHEARTUIC

  • UICUF and Admin teams make good-faith moves on some articles
  • Admin still seeking to curtail key proposals on shared governance
  • Admin pleads poverty over raises, new tenure lines, amidst billion-dollar expansion plans
  • TAKE ACTION: Attend the U of I BoT meeting 9:30-11:30am, 1/31/19, @SCW


Both Sides Reassert Desire for Progress
In the first negotiating session between UICUF and Administration in 2019, the Admin team returned to the table with some concessions, recognizing that faculty can and will stand firm on our principles. Despite these moves, many issues remain unaddressed or dismissed outright. Proposals to enhance shared governance in certain areas, which is of particular importance to the union, still seems contentious for Admin negotiators. Meanwhile, UICUF presented counter proposals as well, revising some of our own language to create space for dialogue.   

University Growth: It’s About More Than New Buildings
We began this process with high expectations, especially in light of all the positive developments for the University. In contrast to the backdrop of previous negotiations, UIC is currently expanding. Plans to dramatically increase enrollment are being matched with a billion-dollar plan to build new facilities. Amidst this rapid growth, it seemed like a no-brainer that the faculty would share in the prosperity, with raises to catch up from the lean austerity years, and to support a growing student body. Our proposals at the bargaining table reflected this optimism. Unfortunately, our proposals to make faculty wages competitive were not met with the same enthusiasm Administration seems to have for new buildings. Given the contemporary example of Wright State, which has pushed faculty to tighten belts while their board prioritizes other projects, we’re very wary of any similar dynamic developing at UIC.

Act Now to Support a Fair Contract
At this time, after more than six months of negotiations, we remain far from what our negotiation team considers a fair contract. With our priorities clearly on the table, and the board’s only Chicago meeting of the semester coming up on Thursday, January 31st, we are encouraging members to join us from 9:30-11:30 at Student Center WEST to demonstrate our commitment to winning a fair contract. Email UICUFJeff@gmail.com to RSVP to this event.  

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Until we win a fair contract, we will be issuing regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and here 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 can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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24 Jan University of Illinois at Chicago United Faculty Stands with Wright State Faculty

Dear colleagues at Wright State University,

The faculty union at UIC is in full and steadfast support of striking faculty and students at Wright State University. You are on the right side of justice in this struggle, fighting for the soul of higher education.

Your courage to withhold your labor, which we know is hard to do, is really the only thing you can do in order to protect and improve your working conditions – your students’ learning conditions – when the administration stops negotiating with you. We all know that your strike, as opposed to their reaction to it, is truly right for students and Wright State University. And, no matter what they say, the university administration and trustees are responsible for the shutdown and for ending the strike.

Stand Strong!

Solidarity forever!

You will win this!

Janet Smith, President
UIC United Faculty, Local #6456 AAUP, AFT-IFT, AFL-CIO
#Fighting4Wright
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21 Jan Faculty Voices Winter 2019 Edition

If you want to catch up with what’s been happening with the union over the last semester, you’re in luck! Our Winter newsletter is now published and available, covering topics including the Janus decision, contract bargaining (and campaigning), our new Committee on Political Education, and our everyday union victories. There are also plenty of actions and events coming that you’ll want to check out, as well as a number of scholarship opportunities for union members and their families.

Download the PDF versions here:
Faculty Voices Issue 2

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16 Jan Back to the Bargaining Table

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  • UICUF will return to the bargaining table this Friday
  • We will bring counter-offers on some major articles “in our court”
  • We look forward to anticipated counter proposals from the Administration’s team
  • Show your solidarity – wear your pins and t-shirts to work on Friday


A Fresh Start
UICUF will return to the bargaining table this Friday, looking forward to a fresh start on contract negotiations in the new year. There is still much work to do, with the majority of our proposals still on the table waiting for responses from the Administration’s team. We hope to see some progress, as we were promised at least one substantial counter proposal. In the spirit of moving forward, UICUF is also preparing potential counter proposals for items that are “in our court.”

Setting a Tone for Progress
Our last bargaining session became quite heated, with frustrations boiling over among faculty attendees who witnessed how unwilling the Administration’s team was to engage constructively with important union proposals.  While that frustration is understandable, our bargaining team recognizes that it can be difficult to move forward when tensions in the room run high.

With this in mind, the UICUF bargaining team believes that a more staid approach to our first negotiating session of 2019 is in order in order, to set a productive tone for what still promises to be a long process. We are asking that faculty members forego attending this Friday’s session to allow for a cool-down. Don’t worry, we will provide you an update early next week.

Show Your Solidarity and Support
Faculty are highly encouraged to show their support for a strong contract by wearing their UICUF t-shirts and pins to work this Friday. We are also still preparing for a broader contract campaign, as mentioned in last week’s update. If you want to joining the organizing committee, meeting next Tuesday, 1/22, 2-4pm at the UICUF office, or you need t-shirts and buttons delivered to you, please contact UICUFJeff@gmail.com.


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Until we win a fair contract, we will be issuing regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and here 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 can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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10 Jan UICUF Prepares for Contract Campaign Escalation

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  • Progress remains elusive as tense contract negotiations set to resume Spring Semester
  • UICUF plans next steps and the imminent escalation of the contract campaign
  • Failure by Admin to acknowledge faculty issues in negotiations could lead to strike vote
  • Union urges faculty to speak with their college Representatives for info on future actions
  • To join the Organizing Committee, email UICUFJeff@gmail.com


Negotiations Continue With No End In Sight
UICUF and U of I Administration have been negotiating over the faculty union contract since June of last year, and our previous contract expired in August. In the final session between the two parties before winter break, discussion became heated as faculty attendees expressed frustration with Administration’s dismissive stance toward faculty proposals, hampering the pace of the proceedings. Cautious hope for fair treatment at the bargaining table notwithstanding, it is becoming clear that we will need to take action beyond those negotiations to win a contract we can all be proud of.

Organizing Committee to Escalate Campaign, Prepare for Possible Strike Vote
An Organizing Committee was convened yesterday to plan a campaign of escalating pressure on Administration. That campaign is intended to continue until faculty get a fair contract, and may incorporate workplace actions, including calling for a limited or indefinite strike before the end of the semester. The consideration for a strike is not taken lightly, but is seen as an increasingly likely outcome, if Administration continues to disregard faculty concerns and proposals in the negotiating process.  

In light of the growing need for direct action to secure a fair contract that respects faculty and enriches the UIC community, UICUF leadership is calling on all members to watch for ongoing union communications, and get involved in any way you are able. At this time, participation in our Organizing Committee, or as a Contract Action Team member are of paramount importance. To get involved, please email UICUFJeff@gmail.com. With your support, we can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

***

Until we win a fair contract, we will be issuing regular updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and here on our website. We strongly 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 can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

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03 Jan 2018 – A Busy Year for UICUF

UICUF and allies from UIC Unions United make our concerns known at a meeting of the U of I Board of Trustees

UICUF and allies from UIC Unions United make our concerns known at a meeting of the U of I Board of Trustees

 

A Year of Challenges
2018 was a year of challenges for UIC United Faculty, and indeed, unions around the United States. From dealing with the Janus decision in the US Supreme Court, to engaging U of I Administration in what’s turned out to be a very contentious contract bargaining process, there has been plenty to keep our union members on their toes. We can, however, proudly say that we’ve tackled all of these challenges head-on, preparing for the worst, handling the bumps in the road as they came, and in many cases turning potential pitfalls into opportunities. While UICUF began 2018 with many uncertainties on the horizon, we ended the year stronger than ever.

The Janus Decision
Anticipating an anti-union ruling in Janus v AFSCME last spring, we chose to act, rather than wait for the axe to fall. Over the first six months of 2018, UICUF staff and member volunteers embarked on a campaign to meet with as many members as possible. By the time the Janus ruling did arrive in late June, we had met with more than 2/3rds of our members, virtually all of whom signed recommitment cards signalling their ongoing support, regardless of the changing legal environment. Thanks in no small part to member engagement, we experienced virtually no negative membership impact from Janus, and in fact, our membership has only grown since then — a trend that shows no sign of reversing.

U of I Tests the Boundaries and UIC Unions Unite
Just because we were well prepared for the Janus decision does not mean the event passed without incident. In the immediate aftermath of the decision, we found that UIC Payroll, and U of I Labor Relations had chosen to ignore months of meetings and advanced notices meant to keep their records of dues payers updated and accurate. Instead of acknowledging our updated lists and valid membership cards, they chose to arbitrarily end dues for 145 confirmed faculty union members, not fully restoring their dues status for nearly 2 months. Others were hit much worse than we were though, and this is how UIC Unions United was formed.

UIC has many unions involved on campus, but UICUF, UIC GEO, SEIU, and INA are some of the largest, representing over 8,000 workers. All of them realized after the Janus decision, that if we didn’t work together, Administration would simply continue to use the ruling as an excuse to pursue a broader union-busting agenda. Together, we formed a coalition, UIC Unions United, to push back on this agenda. Since then, we’ve demonstrated our strength through a number of actions, including a march on the Labor Relations office, a demonstration at the Board of Trustees meeting in November, and several pickets, to show that we won’t accept unilateral moves by the Administration to disenfranchise our members, or rewrite the terms of our contracts on their own say-so.

Since forming the coalition, the vast majority of members that UIC had cut from the rolls have been restored, though the university administration has done nothing to compensate the unions for these costly “errors.” More alarmingly, they still maintain that they have the right to revoke memberships at their own discretion without so much as informing the union. Every member organization of the coalition is now in the process of filing Unfair Labor Practices and/or grievances against the administration over these claims. We’re sure to see more of this play out in 2019. Regardless of the outcome, we all agree we are much stronger for having come together, even if it took difficult circumstances to galvanize us.

Contract Negotiations
UICUF’s contract was set to expire in August of 2018. Long in advance of that date, we had convened a group of faculty from nearly every college at UIC to prepare for contract bargaining. In the fall of 2017, we polled faculty to learn what they felt were the most pressing issues of the day, and planned for months on how to turn the results into proposals that could make it into a final contract. In May, the Bargaining Committee presented a demand to bargain, and in June, contract negotiations began in earnest. Or at least they appeared to.

What we quickly learned was that the negotiator assigned by U of I Administration had no interest in discussing, well, much of anything really. We presented our non-economic issues first. While there was feedback and even requests for re-writes, few counter-proposals were offered. At the same time, they held back campus wage pools, falsely claiming that it was the union’s fault. To be clear, if they truly wished to give out raises, labor law offers several commonly accepted avenues to do so, with the unions permission, which would have been given if sought. They chose not seek that permission, or even bring up the issue in negotiations beforehand, depriving us the opportunity to proactively offer it.

Since June, we’ve faithfully returned to the bargaining table, despite the growing evidence that the administration does not seem interested in negotiating, so much as dictating terms. Thus, we ended 2018’s bargaining sessions with dozens of faculty in the room, while members testified as to their disappointment in Administration’s disingenuous tactics, and the time wasted while they try to avoid serious negotiations. Discussion became heated, but we did conclude with a note of hope for 2019. When next we meet, we expect U of I’s negotiating team to honor their verbal commitment to return with written counterproposals for at least one of our proposed articles. It’s not much, but even incremental improvements are worth pursuing at this stage. With each effort that fails to bring us closer to a viable contract, tensions between the union and the administration will only rise. While we hope Administration will return to the table in 2019 willing to take seriously our full set of proposals, we are also anticipating the need to significantly increase our visibility beyond the bargaining table.

A New Year Ahead
2018 brought many challenges before the union, some of which are yet ongoing. 2019 is likely to bring more still, but we are ready to rise to the occasion, thanks to the support of our dedicated members and activists, and our allies on and off campus.  We do not yet have new bargaining dates set, but we do know that the U of I Board of Trustees will return to Chicago for a meeting on January 31st. We will continue to keep you informed of every opportunity for you to represent yourselves and your colleagues under the union banner.

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Until we win a fair contract, we will be issuing periodic updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, 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!

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19 Dec Ending this Semester’s Bargaining with a Bang

UIC United Faculty's Bargaining Team caucusing with our members during a break in negotiations.

UIC United Faculty’s Bargaining Team caucusing with our members during a break in negotiations.

Tensions Boil Over (and Why That’s Okay)
It’s no secret that as time wears on, our bargaining sessions with Administration are becoming more contentious. The Administration team, for their part, appear perplexed with the pace of negotiations, claiming the ball is now completely in our court. Yet, they fail to even acknowledge the bulk of our proposals, choosing simply not to offer written counters despite demanding numerous rewrites from our side. This is not how we – or most people for that matter – bargain over a complex and nuanced written contract. In addition, faculty are frustrated with the low-ball salary numbers we’ve been given. That sentiment has only been exacerbated by claims that the Administration has no money available for more, because they have to choose their battles when seeking funding from the system. In translation, that seems to mean that they’ve chosen to pressure the union into accepting their meager merit raise offer, rather than ask the U of I system to adequately fund faculty salaries at UIC.

With all of these misgivings swirling about, it was hardly surprising that the situation exploded Monday, in plain view of the nearly 30 faculty members who came to observe the proceedings. Faculty members, who testified on a range of issues, expressed their distaste for what they see as Administration’s time-wasting and contrarian bargaining tactics. The Administration team, in turn, accused UIC United Faculty of acting and bargaining like a group of assembly-line workers, a shockingly tone-def attack on our identity as workers. 

Barbs were exchanged. Voices were raised. A recess was called. And then we all came back to the table and got on with the tough business of negotiating.

It may sound crazy, but that’s okay. Some things needed to be said, and we feel the bargaining process will proceed, if nothing else, more honestly for having this frank exchange.

In the aftermath, we feel that we have now made it very clear that we are unimpressed with the contention that Administration’s hands are tied on funding faculty raises. We also think they have finally gotten the message that we don’t intend to walk away from our non-economic priorities. This was underscored by faculty speaking their minds, and making sure concerns about workload and other matters are taken seriously.

Governance is Not a ‘Management Right’
One faculty member’s testimony, in particular, poignantly addressed the fine line between governance and management. Historically, faculty have enjoyed shared governance in US institutions of higher education, meaning that they advise on matters affecting their work, and have a direct say in areas like curriculum. Lately though, some UIC administrators have been appropriating exclusive rights over what faculty feel should fall into the realm of shared governance.

Workload is a prime example. Administration believes that assigning work is a management right, and to some extent that may be true. However, UIC United Faculty contends that setting standards for such assignments should be a collaborative process in which shared governance is applied, working through the unit’s advisory or executive committee. A Dean may ultimately make the final decisions, but shared governance means that faculty are consulted. It means that faculty have input. It means that faculty have a voice, even if it is not the final say on the subject. And having a voice does matter!

As an immediate example, faculty in Applied Health Sciences last year were faced with a unilateral decision by their Dean to increase their course loads without a corresponding increase in pay. With the union’s help, they were able to push back and re-engage the process of shared governance, before the new policies took effect. Their voice mattered, and using it made a difference, even if final decisions technically still lie in the hands of an administrator. Such critical decision-making, however, shouldn’t have to rise to this level of imposition and outrage for faculty to be consulted, which is why our proposals on expanding shared governance matter so much.  

A Silver Lining
With so much tension in the room, we’re actually fairly pleased with the outcomes. Administration, to their credit, came back to the table after our recess, offering to submit a written counter to our workload proposal. That matters because, to date, Administration has been keen to point out why they think our proposal language doesn’t work, but won’t accept rewrites they themselves asked for, and won’t offer their own. Getting counter proposals in writing has been something the union has pushed for since the earliest days of bargaining, and now it appears we will get that.

Next Semester
This was our last meeting of the semester. We will resume after the break at a date and time to be determined. However, we do have one imminent event which you should keep in mind for January. On January 31st, the U of I Board of Trustees will return to UIC for another board meeting. Administration negotiators have squarely pointed to budget constraints as a reason they won’t offer more robust salary figures, and the Board controls that budget. You can do the math here on your own, we’re sure, but suffice it to say, the union will be looking at possible activities around the board meeting on January 31st. We figure the Trustees may need to be reminded that faculty aren’t going to accept raise figures that fall below inflation, while massive administrative bonuses and capital development are being funded without a care.

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Until we win a fair contract, we will be issuing periodic updates via email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, 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!

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