News

16 Oct Help Our Students Fight New Visa Restrictions

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  • Proposed DHS Rules Will Harm Our Students: The proposed rules will severely limit visa durations and create significant if not insurmountable barriers to degree completion for current and future international students.
  • Your Public Comment Can Make a Difference: Public comments are open until 10/26. Comments can delay or derail rules that adversely affect our students. We strongly encourage you to submit a comment (here or here) ASAP. See below for more info.
  • Workload Survey: UICUF will be running a brief survey via direct email next Wednesday to determine how the pandemic and remote work are affecting faculty workloads. You can respond to the survey now if preferred!

 

Dear UICUF Members,

We are writing today to alert you to a developing situation that could adversely affect our international students. Some of you may recall a push by the White House and Homeland Security this summer to severely limit student visas, an effort which was halted in the courts after being challenged by many higher education institutions before going into effect. Unfortunately, a new effort to limit student visas is underway right now, and our students, via the organization International Students Supporting Each Other (ISSEO), are sounding the alarm and asking for our help.

What Do The New Rules Do?
Very briefly, the new proposed rules will limit students to 4- or 2-year academic visas, despite the fact that at least 25% of undergrads and a majority of PhD students take longer than 4 years to complete their degrees. The proposal will also require renewing the visa through Citizenship and Immigration Services, rather than allowing students’ educational institutions to extend their student status. USCIS is already struggling under extraordinary backlogs which can delay proceedings by months or even years–due in no small part to the systematic understaffing and underfunding of immigration courts. This could make it difficult if not impossible to maintain a consistent student status, which will force many international students to discontinue their studies. You can review a great deal more information on the rules proposed, and how to support our students, in the ISSEO’s Call To Action Guide.

Submit a Public Comment to Support Our Students
UICUF intends to submit an institutional comment, but our students have asked that we all individually submit public comments, which together can delay, restrict, or build a case for dropping the proposal entirely. The action guide linked above can offer more details.

If you have questions or just want to take action in a supportive environment, ISSEO is hosting a Comment Party next Monday:

What: ISSEO Public Comment Party
When: Monday, October 19th
Time: 5-6 p.m. CST
Where: Zoom (RSVP to receive the event link)
RSVP: http://bit.ly/CmntRSVP2
Questions: Email ISSEO

Upcoming Workload Survey
We have received enough anecdotal reports of increased workloads attributable to the shift from in-person to remote work, that we are going to run a brief, 3-question survey to find out more about the phenomenon. Watch for the survey in your email next Wednesday, or if you prefer, you can fill it out right now!

Solidarity,
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!

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07 Oct Bargaining in the Wake of Two More Strikes

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  • Impact Bargaining Resumes: Impact bargaining resumed Tuesday as we look to work proactively get ahead of ongoing disruptions going into Spring Semester.
  • Labor Board Advances ULP Charges Against Admin: The Illinois Labor Board has issued a complaint regarding our Unfair Labor Practice charges against UIC Admin over failure to engage in impact bargaining prior to implementing new policies.
  • Learning from 2 *More* Strikes: This fall we added two fresh strikes to our pile of evidence that UIC Admin won’t bargain unless forced to do so. UICUF is beginning forward planning for negotiating our 2022 contract, starting NOW.
  • Fair Tax Q & A 4:30pm Thursday: Last week we offered the exact legislative language setting up the Fair Tax so you can review for yourself. IFT is hosting a Fair Tax Q&A tomorrow. Join the session if you have questions and please VOTE “YES” for a Fair Tax.

Dear UICUF Members,

After a break while the semester got underway, and after two strikes from our colleagues in INA and SEIU played out, impact bargaining with the UIC Administration resumed on Tuesday,  We have been bargaining over COVID-19 impacts to our contract since April, with mixed results. Admin has given some concessions, but these changes have typically been dictated after brief discussion, rather than agreed upon. They are also temporary in duration, full of loopholes, and lacking in accountability. The administration’s persistent view that they do not have to bargain to agreement, but rather can “consult” and then do whatever they want, is the subject of nearly 20 separate ULP charges currently moving forward with the state Labor Board.

We are, therefore, continuing to bargain with an eye to spring semester. Few concessions are guaranteed past the fall, and none have been codified in contractually enforceable agreements. Critically, the date for departments to determine courses that must be taught in-person is next week, Oct. 15. We are seeking clarification of the language, which does not directly speak to individual discretion or procedure for opting-out of in-person instruction, and will keep you posted.

UIC Administration’s Unfair Labor Practices
Imposing policy changes on issues currently under negotiation–without first reaching agreement between the parties–is a clear violation of labor law. In June, when it became clear that the Administration would not take its duty to bargain seriously, we filed a series of Unfair Labor Practice charges, citing the failure to bargain in good faith before deciding on policies affecting our contract.

Last week, the Labor Board advanced these charges against UIC Admin by issuing a complaint in the case, a step that confirms the charges are substantial enough to warrant a hearing. The Administration has until the end of the week to respond, and we anticipate a hearing date will be set thereafter.

Learning from Two More Strikes
Just a few weeks ago, UIC was hit by two simultaneous strikes, adding to a contentious record showing the Administration never bargains seriously until workers force them to. For INA, it took nearly half a year and a 7-day strike to win their contract. For SEIU, which bargained on behalf of 4 different bargaining units, it took upwards of a year on average, and a 10-day strike, to win a fair contract. Previously, UIC GEO had to bargain for over a year and go on strike to win their contract, and our own current contract was won only after a year of bargaining and the threat of a strike which was averted mere hours before the deadline.

Are you seeing a pattern here? UIC Admin has approached every negotiation in the last two years with the same attitude: refuse to move on anything until the union membership gets so fed up that they’re willing to strike. While planning for a year-long lead time and a strike every time we bargain a contract is far from our preference, it’s impossible to ignore the precedent.

Our contract expires in a little under 2 years, and it takes months to prepare before bargaining officially begins. If these timelines are predictive, it strongly implies we need to start preparing now. We’ve already begun holding preliminary strategy sessions to this end and invite any interested members to get involved! Email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com if you’re interested in helping us lay out the vision and strategy that will drive our next major contract negotiation!

Solidarity,
UIC United Faculty

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01 Oct Down to Brass Tacks on the Fair Tax

 

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  • UICUF Endorses a Fair Tax for Illinois: UICUF supports the Fair Tax ballot measure. The vast majority of our members (anyone making under $250k) will pay less or the same while the state raises funds vital to public institutions like UIC!
  • The Fair Tax WILL: allow different incomes to be taxed at different rates, like in our federal tax system and 33 other states.
  • The Fair Tax Will NOT: affect retirement income, or allow the legislature to do anything they want. The legislature already has the ability to change overall tax rates, and the Fair Tax will allow the legislature to differentiate tax rates by income.
  • DON’T SKIP THE QUESTION: The Fair Tax ballot measure requires at least 60% approval on the question itself or a majority of those voting in the election. This means that a non-vote is a “no” vote. Vote “YES” to support a Fair Tax.
  • Transparency and Trust: We believe our members will make the best decisions when they are best informed. Therefore, we have included links to the bill synopses and full texts, as well as FAQs below.

 

Dear UICUF Members,

As voting begins in Illinois, we want to remind you that we here at UICUF believe the Fair Tax ballot measure will benefit virtually all of our members, both directly and indirectly. The vast majority of you, those making under $250,000 a year, will pay less or the same in state income tax with the passage of this ballot measure, while some will be able to claim child and property tax credits. Indirectly, this measure will help the state raise funds urgently needed to support public institutions like UIC, and pay the people who work in those institutions.

There is a lot of information and, potentially, misinformation being broadcast right now about this measure and how it works. We’ll attempt to explain some key points in plain english here, and have provided links to the actual synopses and texts of the relevant bills for your further reading at the bottom of this message.

The Ballot Measure
The most immediately important thing to know about the Fair Tax is that it will be on the ballot in this election. It will require at least a 60% “YES” vote on the measure itself to pass, or a “YES” vote from a simple majority of all those voting in this election. This means it is less likely to pass if people skip the question, which is why we encourage you to vote “YES” and if you are uncertain, to do your research and make a decision rather than skip the question.

The ballot measure language describes eliminating a requirement in the Illinois constitution that tax rates be set equally on all taxpayers. This is referred to as a “flat tax.” The elimination of this amendment allows the state to set different rates relative to different income levels, which is the way our federal tax system, and the tax systems of 33 other states already work. You can see the textual changes in the amendment, per joint legislative bill SJRCA0001 here.

The Tax Act Amendment
The ballot measure, in practical terms, simply eliminates the requirement to tax all people at the same rate. An associated bill, already passed and signed, sets new rates, as well as a number of tax credit changes. This is where the new rates which you can check via the state’s rate-calculator, come from. It is not easy to encompass in simple language, but nor should it be viewed as a blank check or a slippery slope. The changes to tax rates are clear and specific, including the fact that those making under $250,000 a year will pay less or the same. You can see the exact text of the bill, SB0687, here.

What’s NOT CHANGING With the Fair Tax
It is very important to understand that the Fair Tax is specific in the changes it makes, and does not affect most of the ways in which taxes are set. Neither the constitutional amendment (which you’ll vote on this fall) nor the associated tax act amendment (already passed), change the legislature’s ability to raise or lower income taxes as a whole. The legislature already has the power to set tax rates. Likewise, there is nothing in this bill that permits the legislature to tax retirement income or any other type of income. Retirement income in particular is shielded by law, and nothing in the Fair Tax will change that.

The Actual Language
We fervently hope you will vote “YES” on the ballot question, and have laid out above why we feel it is the best choice for our members. It is, of course, ultimately up to you to make that choice, and if you wish to further educate yourself about the changes proposed, we want you to have the tools to do that. Below are the bill synopses (full texts accessible through links at the top of each page), along with the ballot language itself. We’ve also included the IFT FAQ for your review:

Illinois General Assembly Synopsis of Constitutional Amendment (Full text linked at top of page)
Illinois General Assembly Synopsis of Tax Act Amendment SB0687

Ballot Measure Actual Language

IFT’s Fair Tax FAQ

No matter what, we strongly urge you to VOTE and do so safely this election cycle. Voting information can be found at the state board of elections website.

Solidarity,
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!

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24 Sep SEIU Wins Historic Contract Strike | Admin Concedes on IP Protections

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  • SEIU Wins Historic Contract: SEIU reached tentative agreements on all of their contracts last night, ending their 10-day strike! UIC nurses ended their planned 7 day strike this past weekend, saying they’ve made great strides toward a contract agreement.
  • Admin Extends IP Protections: After UICUF expressed deepening concerns over faculty’s intellectual property rights for online spring classes, admin announced the extension of temporary protections through spring semester.
  • Support a Fair Tax for Illinois!: UICUF has endorsed the Fair Tax, and encourages you to vote YES to the ballot measure. It will offer tax relief to the vast majority of our members (Official Tax Calculator), and fund vital public institutions like UIC!

 

Dear UICUF Members,

At the time of this writing, we are excited to inform you that SEIU has won fair contracts for each of their four bargaining units at UIC! The agreements, finalized late yesterday, mark the culmination of over a year of contract negotiations, and the end of the union’s 10-day strike that mobilized more than 4,000 members to withhold their labor. These workers, deemed essential, and hailed as heroes by UIC, were forced to go on strike to win the professional respect and treatment all workers deserve. The agreement reportedly includes:

 

  • $15/hr pay floor for chicago workers, and across the board raises for each year of the contract
  • Improved access to PPE
  • Commitments to maintain safe staffing levels
  • Protection against outsourcing
  • Hazard pay provisions and equal pay protections

 

Though the strike is over, SEIU members say they are more strongly united than they have been in years. The union membership will now vote on ratifying the contract, and have already committed to carrying their renewed strength into mobilizing support for the elected officials who supported them.

Meanwhile, INA, the union representing UIC nurses, ended their planned 7-day strike over the weekend. They are still negotiating their contract, but members say they have made more progress since authorizing the strike several weeks ago than they had over all the previous months of bargaining.

Victory on Intellectual Property Rights
This week, after significant union pressure, UIC Administrators approved an extension to their temporary policy protecting faculty IP rights when accepting ION and Course Builder assistance. UICUF had raised the alarm over the administration’s reluctance to extend the policy, which asserts that accepting such assistance under normal circumstances would entail faculty giving up licensing rights to their course materials, while creating an exception only for fall semester.

The extension of this policy exception is a victory for faculty who have justifiable concerns over the rights to their course materials, allowing us to sign-up for course prep assistance with peace-of-mind, knowing we are not inadvertently giving away our rights. It is, however, only a temporary solution to an issue that is clearly going to continue resurfacing. We will continue to call on the administration to make explicitly clear where the university believes its licensing rights extend, and to commit to informing faculty before they make decisions that may impact those rights. We view transparency on this issue as not only a matter of fairness, but also a legal imperative that we will fight for on behalf of our members if necessary.

Voting Plans and The Fair Tax
As we’ve written in the past, UIC United Faculty has endorsed the Fair Tax proposal which you will see on your ballot this general election. The Fair Tax and its accompanying legislation will objectively lower state income taxes for the vast majority of our members, while providing an overall tax boost to pay for critical state-funded services, like the University of Illinois system. We encourage you to vote YES for a Fair Tax for Illinois!

Meanwhile, to ensure that you are able to vote and have your vote counted in good order, we recommend starting by creating a simple voting plan. This can be as minimal as confirming the place and time when you intend to cast your ballot, and putting a reminder on your calendar. You may also wish to confirm that your voter registration is up to date, and/or research the candidates and questions that may be presented on your ballot. You can find information on voter registration, voting locations, and more at www.elections.il.gov/.

Solidarity,
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!

 

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17 Sep Shame: UICUF Appalled by Regressive Strike Breaking Tactics

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SHAME
UICUF Statement Against Regressive Strike Breaking Tactics

UIC United Faculty (UICUF)—the union representing over 1,400 tenured and non-tenured faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago—is disturbed and appalled that the university administration has recruited scabs to substitute for UIC workers exercising their legal right to strike for fair and just contracts.  The university has contracted with firms that specialize in providing strikebreakers, which allegedly includes bringing scabs in from states currently listed on the City of Chicago’s Emergency Travel Order.

Union members in SEIU Local 73 and the Illinois Nurses Association have been working without a contract while risking their own health and safety as frontline hospital workers in the fight against COVID-19.  Rather than negotiate new contracts that recognize the invaluable labor and heroism of their employees, the administration has refused to bargain seriously and, when challenged, turned to scabs.

The administration has in effect refused to treat its unionized workers as members of the university community or even the Chicago community.  The administration has not provided adequate health protections and insists on paying below the city minimum wage on the basis of a technicality, claiming UIC workers are state workers and not workers in Chicago. The city has made clear what a minimum wage for those working in this city must be, yet the administration insists on using a loophole in the law to pay them less.

In these shameful acts the administration is taking a position reminiscent of unscrupulous employers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, before the New Deal.  This is the old deal: take an unsafe job that pays below the minimum wage or be replaced by a scab.  UICUF is ashamed that the UIC administration has taken this regressive position, and has doubled down on defending it with vile strike breaking tactics.  We fully support SEIU 73 and the Illinois Nurses Association in their efforts to achieve  fair and safe contracts.

In Solidarity,
UIC United Faculty

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13 Sep INA/SEIU Strike Updates

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  • INA Nurses Begin 7 Day Strike: UIC Nurses strike over COVID safety, safe staffing levels, and wages began Saturday 9-12-20 and will continue through the week, or until they get a fair contract.
  • SEIU To Begin Striking Monday: SEIU, representing service staff, building services, and custodians both on campus and at the hospital, will strike Monday, 9-14-20, over similar concerns
  • Expired Contracts, Lost Colleagues: Both unions are working under expired contracts and have lost colleagues to serious illness and deaths related to COVID-19.
  • How Does This Affect Faculty: Below is info on how these strikes may affect you and your students, what you are and are not required to do, and what you can do to support our colleagues in their fights for fair contracts.

 

Dear UICUF Members,

Our colleagues in the Nurses and Staff unions, INA and SEIU, are striking for their lives, starting this week. COVID19 has sickened over 100 workers, and killed at least 5, so this is no exaggeration. They are also fighting for safe staffing levels, as admin has maintained critically low numbers of nurses and custodians, even while the pandemic increases the need for these essential roles. As fellow union workers at UIC, we support these necessary strike actions to win real protections through enforceable, fair contracts. We encourage you in the strongest possible terms to consider how you can help, by taking solidarity actions, or even simply sharing social media posts.

Below is our at-a-glance advice on supporting the strikes, respecting striking workers’ legal rights, and where to expect pickets during this work stoppage.

SUPPORTING WORKERS DURING THE STRIKE
The following activities are both legally permissible and recommended by UICUF for faculty who wish to support striking workers:

 

  • Rally with Strikers: Monday, 12pm, @1717 W. Taylor
  • Avoid crossing picket lines (detailed location of the pickets below).
    • Consider alternative forms of teaching if necessary (e.g. on-line/virtual meeting if you are not already remote).
    • Move classes to either evening hours, to an off campus location, or to non-struck buildings, if necessary and allowed under your unit’s policy.
  • Don’t perform, or hire replacement workers to perform, duties assigned to striking workers.
  • Sign the Community and Labor support letter here, and  sign up to hear about support actions here.
  • Join picket lines when not working.
  • Wear union pins, shirts and other items that demonstrate solidarity in your workplace (including work related video meetings and classes).
  • Talk to students about why nurses and staff are striking, including COVID safety, appropriate staffing levels, fair wages, and professional respect.
  • Follow, like, share, comment on social media accounts

 

RESPECTING THE LEGAL RIGHTS OF STRIKING WORKERS
While our members will not likely face many situations that call into question the legality of actions relative to striking workers, we want to remind everyone that it is generally unlawful to take actions dissuading or punishing workers for exercising their right to strike. Specifically:

  • It is unlawful to fire, discipline, or retaliate against workers for participating in a strike or union activity.
  • It is unlawful to ask workers to inform anyone in advance of participating in a strike or union activity.
  • It is unlawful to record or threaten to record the names of workers participating in a strike or union activity.
  • It is unlawful to discriminate against, restrain, or coerce workers regarding union membership or activity.

 

PICKETING TIMES AND LOCATIONS
Since much of the campus is already closed or at minimal staffing levels due to COVID-19, pickets will in some cases take place on major thoroughfares rather than individual buildings. This may change if needed as demands of the strike action evolve.

  • Chicago Picket #1: 1740 W Taylor
  • Chicago Picket # 2: 750 S Halsted
  • Peoria: Medical Center
  • Rockford: Medical Center
  • Sign up for pickets here

 

We hope it goes without saying, but do not cross a picket line if at all avoidable. It is disrespectful to fellow workers fighting for their rights, and diminishes all of our collective power to fight for fair contracts. If you are directed by a supervisor to cross a picket or teach class in a picketed building, you may be required to comply, but should make time on either end of your work commitment to join and march with the picketers.

***

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!

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11 Sep Alert: UIC May Assert Rights Over Online Course Materials

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  • Intellectual Property Rights NOT Guaranteed: Admin has refused to extend IP protections on remote course materials being prepared for spring 2021.
  • Course Prep Support May Trigger Rights Transfer: According to policies shared by Provost Poser, accepting course-builders, ION training, or a stipend may all be conditions conferring licensing rights to UIC after fall exceptions end on Dec 31, 2020.
  • Strike Updates: SEIU/INA art build is Friday, 9/11/20. INA pickets begin Saturday, SEIU pickets begin Monday. Email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com to get involved.

 

Dear UIC Faculty,

We write today to express our growing concern that the UIC administration may seek to assert ownership and/or licensing rights over online course materials developed for spring classes. We strongly advise you at this time to refuse any ION or Course-Builder assistance, or planning stipends, for spring course prep until assurances are made that you will retain all ownership and licensing rights to your work.

Faculty are, by the university’s general rules (Article III) and via our contract (Article VII.G), entitled to full ownership of traditionally copyrightable academic works, including lectures and lesson plans. However, this right may be considered forfeit if you create materials as a specific requirement of employment, or make use of resources beyond what is usually provided by UIC. The administration has made clear in contract negotiations and general communications that they believe the acceptance of ION training, Course Builders, or a course planning stipend, would all be qualifying events allowing them to take ownership and licensing rights to your work.

Provost Poser reinforced this principle in communications to faculty on August 5th, where she shared an interim policy explicitly stating these conditions as conferring rights to the university, while exempting them temporarily for the fall semester. Despite repeated calls to do so, and with the deadlines to enroll in ION courses or ask for Course-Builder assistance approaching on October 1st, the administration has refused to extend these exemptions.

At a time when UIC is actively exploring expanded licensing deals with third party online education providers, we find this failure to reassure faculty on ownership rights to be provocative to say the least. Their insistence on language giving them licensing rights to faculty course materials appears to be a grave threat to our intellectual property, and possibly to the integrity of our work in the long term.

If you are considering accepting course-builder assistance, ION training, or a planning stipend, especially to prepare for large asynchronous classes, we encourage you not to agree to anything without written assurance protecting your intellectual property and licensing rights to those course materials. Short of such written assurance, we must assume that it is the university’s intention to claim said rights and use those course materials as they see fit, with or without permission of the faculty member.

If you are being pressured or forced to accept such assistance, contact us ASAP, and as ever, please email us any questions at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

Solidarity,
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!

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07 Sep Happy Labor Day from UIC United Faculty

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Dear Fellow Union Members,

Happy Labor Day to you, and all the working people in your lives! We hope you may take a moment to reflect on the meaning of this holiday honoring everyday workers, and the labor we all do that keeps our world running. Especially now, as thousands of our colleagues in the Nurses and Staff unions at UIC are preparing to strike for their lives over safety concerns, a recognition of labor’s role in society, and our collective power when we organize, is all the more critical.

Our own collective actions, meanwhile, have ensured that the vast majority of faculty are able to teach remotely if you wish to, and in the ways that work best for the unique situation of your discipline, and your students. Our contract has also ensured that even as other universities use the pandemic as an excuse to cut wages or furlough faculty, our members will still enjoy the fruits of a 4% raise pool this year.

We also want to remind you that we are still collecting donations for our Mutual Aid Fund, to help support colleagues who have lost, or may lose their jobs and health insurance during the COVID pandemic. We’ve raised over $14,000 dollars out of our $20,000 goal, and have already distributed more than $12,000 to members who have lost their jobs in the worst academic job market most of us have ever experienced. You can donate via our GoFundMe page or by writing a check and mailing to our office at:

UIC—United Faculty
1016 W Jackson Blvd
Chicago, Illinois 60607

On a final note, we hope that above all, today you remember that our union is strong because of members like you. Whether you are an elected union officer, or a dues paying member, your support makes our work, and all the union’s achievements, possible. Labor Day is, in every sense, your holiday, and you’ve earned it!

Solidarity,
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!

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03 Sep UIC Staff and Nurses Prepared to Strike on 9/12

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  • INA, SEIU Members Authorize Strikes: Our colleagues in the UIC nurses and staff unions, INA and SEIU, showed extraordinary resolve in recent votes authorizing their unions to strike over stalled contract negotiations.
  • Scholar Strike Over Racial Justice: A call has gone out for a decentralized “strike” by scholars in support of racial justice next week. Work stoppages are not permitted by our contract, but we encourage you to support the movement in other ways as you are able.
  • Raises Are Going Through: Faculty now appear to be receiving raises out of the 4% merit, compression, and equity pools guaranteed by our contract.
  • IP Rights for Spring NOT protected: Admin has given an October 1 deadline to sign up for ION and Coursebuilder support for Spring classes, but have NOT guaranteed faculty intellectual property rights for courses developed with this assistance.

 

UIC Nurses and Staff are Prepared to Strike for Fair Contracts
In an all-too-familiar pattern that we’ve called out during our own past bargaining efforts, UIC admin has once again pushed two campus unions, representing nurses and university staff, to the brink of a work stoppage. INA, the nurses union, and SEIU, the union representing hospital and university staff, have both negotiated past the expiration of their contracts with no sign that Admin is willing to agree to a fair deal. This adds to more than a dozen examples in just the past few years that tell us UIC Admin will not agree to a fair contract without a strike, or the threat of one.

In response to admin’s failure to negotiate a fair contract, 1000 INA nurses voted to strike two weeks ago and have just set a strike date of Saturday, September 12th. They have expressed ongoing concerns over patient and worker safety due to understaffing and failure to provide enough PPE for all workers. The union will ensure that patients continue to receive adequate care, reducing only non-essential services in the event of a strike.

SEIU has expressed similar concerns, around lack of PPE, inadequate stocks of cleaning supplies, and critical staffing shortages that pre-date the COVID pandemic, which has only amplified the urgency of these health and safety demands. Yesterday, 94% of their 3,000 members voted to strike, and they delivered their notice that they’ll stop work on Monday, September 14th.

Both SEIU and INA have suffered significant numbers of seriously ill members, as well as several COVID-related deaths since the spring.

UICUF will be providing financial support to each group’s strike funds, as well as taking other actions to support their efforts to win a fair contract as appropriate. We invite you to offer whatever personal support, be it monetary, creative, showing up to rallies, or simply amplifying social media. SEIU has also posted a support form you can fill out as an individual.

Scholar Strike
Our affiliate organization, AAUP, recently highlighted a call for a Scholar Strike to bring attention to racial injustice and police violence. While an actual concerted work stoppage is not permitted within the bounds of the UIC United Faculty contract, we do strongly encourage our faculty to engage in other actions next Tuesday, 9/8, and Wednesday, 9/9, that support the cause. You can email Scholarstrike@gmail.com to discuss ways you can help even though we cannot legally strike at this time.

Raises and IP Rights for Spring Courses
Some of you may have already been informed of pay raises going through for the year. As a reminder, UIC United Faculty’s contract, which we fought for to the brink of our own work stoppage just last year, guarantees a combined 4% in raise pools (2% merit, 2% compression/equity) each year. Amid much grumbling by our admin counterparts in impact bargaining this year, they acknowledged that regardless of COVID-related cuts, they are required to honor the contract. This is, of course, why having a legally enforceable contract is so important, and is why we, and our colleagues in the grad worker, nurses, and staff unions, have all been willing to take the exceptional steps of authorizing or initiating a strike to win them.

Meanwhile, ongoing concerns around our own impact bargaining process linger. While we’ve elaborated on immediate health and safety issues recently, we also remain concerned about durable intellectual property rights for those building courses with the help of ION and course-builder assistance from the university. UIC admin chose to narrowly guarantee IP protections for fall semester, framing the action as waiving their right to ownership of your work. They have studiously ignored UICUF calls to make this provision protecting faculty IP rights permanent, or even to extend it to the Spring semester.

With an apparent October 1 deadline to accept ION/Course Builder assistance for Spring, we want to warn all faculty considering these options that your IP rights are NOT currently guaranteed. We therefore must caution against accepting these forms of aid unless or until you receive confirmation in writing that all content being created will remain yours exclusively. Absent this, we must assume that the university intends to use, modify, and/or reproduce your work as admin sees fit.

As ever, if you have questions or concerns around any of these issues, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

Solidarity
UIC United Faculty

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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 SAFER place to work and learn!

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21 Aug Press Release: UIC United Faculty Issues Statement on Campus Safety

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 21, 2020

CONTACTS
Robert Johnston, UICUF Chief Steward
773-610-1442 robert.douglas.johnston@gmail.com 

Aaron Krall, UICUF Executive Vice-President
312-351-4172 aaronkrall@gmail.com 

Charitianne Williams, UICUF Communications Chair
773-531-3265 charitianne@gmail.com 


UIC United Faculty Issues Statement on Campus Safety
Faculty reject administration’s plan for campus reopening as unsafe.

The UIC United Faculty (UICUF), the union representing tenure and non-tenure track faculty at the University of Illinois@Chicago today issued a statement declaring the plan to return to the UIC campus next week unsafe.

We do not have confidence that the Administration’s plan will sufficiently provide for a safe reopening,” the statement reads,“ let alone sustain a healthy open campus for the fall semester.”

The statement also discusses frequency testing and contact tracing on campus which falls short of the rates necessary to identify and contain a campus outbreak.

UICUF has been in impact bargaining with campus administration since March and has filed several Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges over administration intransigence and failure to negotiate at the bargaining table. This reflects the reality of several faculty unions across Illinois, who have filed ULPs against administrative bargaining practices during COVID-19 impact negotiations. Most recently, Western and Eastern Illinois faculty unions (UPI Local 4100) filed ULPs for similar situations. Western has been granted an injunction to delay opening, while this appeal to the law  appears to have forced a tentative agreement at Eastern.

The UICUF statement also coincides with a strike authorization vote taken by University of Illinois Health nurses over working conditions and access to PPE. Additionally, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) staff at UIC plan on taking a strike vote later in September over UIC’s failure to provide adequate safeguards for staff and bargain in good faith at the negotiation table. In the statement, UICUF acknowledges these issues as central to the lack of confidence in the plan to reopen, which depends heavily on the labor of SEIU members to keep our campus and community safe:

“We are troubled by the lack of confidence members of the support and custodial staff have with the current plan and their ability to carry it out to an adequate degree with the personnel and equipment at their disposal.  We aren’t prepared to risk their lives.” 

The UIC United Faculty (Local 6456) represents all full-time tenure and non-tenure track faculty at UIC. UICUF is affiliated with the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professionals.  

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