This bargaining session, the UIC United Faculty team presented a new article on workload. It is UIC United Faculty’s position that faculty need a voice in workload decisions, specifically through existing shared governance processes. The union has registered a number of complaints about dramatic shifts or inconsistent accounting of workloads, often imposed unilaterally by administrators with little or no faculty input. We do not feel that such coercive, top-down practices are appropriate for determining the working conditions of dedicated professionals.
While imposing a one-size-fits-all solution on every department would be equally inappropriate, we do feel that existing shared governance structures can and should be engaged. Shared governance is one of the most important principles in academia, and UICUF believes that giving an engaged, empowered faculty a voice in how workloads are defined is the most practical way to address each unique department’s needs.
Reining in SIT Scores
We also sought to discuss other articles, but no specific movement could be found on anything currently on the table. The UIC Administration team rejected any notion of contractually addressing the use of student evaluations of faculty, often referred to as SIT Scores. While the faculty senate has tentatively accepted the use of these evaluations, they offer a stern warning against their consideration absent other methods:
“It is important that all participating faculty and students are aware that a growing body of research exists to suggest that student evaluations of teaching may be biased in terms of specific faculty populations, such as women and individuals of minority status. For this reason, the data from student evaluations of teaching are not to be used in isolation from other recommended approaches to the evaluation of teaching effectiveness…”
An over reliance on, and potentially improper use of these notoriously flawed scores in evaluating faculty has been a major, ongoing concern for our members. While the University Administration clearly doesn’t want to even discuss the use of SIT Scores in faculty evaluations, or the publishing of such scores, we intend to continue advocating for common sense guidelines, and further study of the issue in general.
Holding the Line on Due Process
Our team, meanwhile, was forced to reject proposals from management that would simply enshrine an unsatisfactory status quo regarding academic freedom protections and discipline and dismissal procedures. Having seen the opaque and often subjective way that the university handles faculty discipline, UIC United Faculty simply cannot accept that less is more when it comes to due process protections for our members.
Overall, UIC United Faculty is disappointed in the University Administration team’s unwillingness to discuss these concerns in earnest. We will, however, be returning to the table next time with the hope that further progress can be made, and that Labor Relations will not categorically stifle discourse on issues that matter to our members.
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Our next contract bargaining session is Wednesday, September 12th. In the interim, we will continue to post weekly articles on topics of critical interest to our membership.
For the duration of the bargaining process, we will be issuing periodic updates via email, facebook, twitter, 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!
UIC United Faculty Bargaining Team
Aaron Krall [Co-Chair], Senior Lecturer, English | Kevin Whyte [Co-Chair], Professor, Math, Statistics and Computer Science | Kheir Al-Kodmany, Professor, Urban Planning and Policy | Xochitl Bada, Associate Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies | Joaquin Chavez, Associate Professor, History | Jim Drown, Senior Lecturer, English | Chris Kanich, Assistant Professor, Computer Science | Paul Pieper, Associate Professor, Economics | Paul Preissner, Associate Professor, Architecture | Laurie Quinn, Clinical Professor, Biobehavioral Science | Jeffrey Sklansky, Associate Professor, History | Charitianne Williams, Senior Lecturer, English | Milos Zefran, Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering