News

18 Apr Bargaining Update 4-17-19

Dozens of members observe bargaining between UICUF and UIC Administration.Dozens of members observe bargaining between UICUF and UIC Administration.

  • UICUF negotiators win longstanding proposal strengthening progressive discipline protections
  • Merit raise figures and protections for NTT reappointment remain outstanding issues that must be settled to avert a strike next week
  • Bargaining:  Tomorrow, 2:30-5pm, at Student Center East, White Oak Room AB
  • Sign up for picket line shifts here

We cleared some issues off the table today at bargaining, including one of our earliest proposals strengthening positive progressive discipline procedure with clear steps and protections for NTT faculty. Both sides also moved closer on merit raises. UICUF negotiators proposed a 2%|4%|4% merit schedule over three years, and admin countered by moving on this issue for the first time since bargaining began, offering 2%|2%|2%.

The new willingness by admin to move on merit comes with just one scheduled bargaining session left before a potential faculty strike next week. This is a trend in the right direction, but final merit raise figures are still under serious debate, and we are also still seeking stronger reappointment protections for our NTT faculty.

Bargaining will resume tomorrow, 2:30-5pm, at Student Center East, White Oak Room AB. Again, this is the last currently scheduled session before a potential strike next week, so members are highly encouraged to attend, observe, participate in critical caucusing with the team, and make strike signs.

Lastly, with the strong possibility that a strike could be called next week, we have set up a picket sign-up form. Members should sign up for as many shifts as they are able to attend if a strike is called, in lieu of your usual work activities.

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Our strike hashtags are #UICFacultyStrike #FairContractNow #Solidarity.

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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17 Apr Bargaining Update 4-16-19

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In bargaining today, we came willing to move on most of the non-economic issues still left unsettled, in the hope that we could reach agreements and move closer to finishing these negotiations. For a final deal to be reached, though, administration will need to move on merit and the NTT reappointment process. On these core issues, we have seen no meaningful movement on management’s side.

Tomorrow, we will be back for another round of negotiations, and discussion of the money proposals still in play. If you haven’t been to a bargaining session, now is a great time to see the process at work. All members joining us will have the opportunity to participate in our caucuses between negotiating with the admin team.

Tomorrow’s bargaining session will be from 1-4pm, at Student Center East, Ft. Dearborn Room. The session will be followed by a guest lecture from distinguished labor activist and organizer, Jane McAlevey, 4-6pm at the UIC Institute for Humanities, 701 S Morgan St.

***

Our strike hashtags are #UICFacultyStrike #FairContractNow #Solidarity.

Until we win a fair contract, we will be issuing regular updates via email, FacebookTwitterYouTube, 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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11 Apr Union Members Overwhelmingly Authorize Strike

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  • With nearly ¾ of membership voting, 93% endorsed authorizing a strike
  • Wednesday’s bargaining session yielded no substantial progress on salary issues
  • Bargaining Tomorrow: Observe/caucus with our team, 12-3:30pm, 4/12 @SCE, 3rd Floor, Dearborn Room B


Contract or Strike
After 3 days of voting, nearly ¾ of UICUF members went to the polls, and the results are unambiguous. 93% voted to authorize a strike, sending our administration the message that they must offer us a fair contract, or face an indefinite work stoppage until they do.

“This vote sends a strong message from our members that they are prepared to fight for a contract that recognizes their contributions to the core missions of the university,” said Aaron Krall, UICUF executive vice president and co-chair of bargaining.

No Money For Salaries
As UIC grows, we believe the administration should invest in our exceptional faculty to ensure that providing students with a high quality education remains the university’s top priority. Our negotiators have been very clear that our members need a compensation plan that goes further, so that they can focus on their students without worrying about losing ground as the cost of living rises in Chicago. We’re seeking a plan that makes up for stagnant salaries in the lean years of the budget crisis, gives meritorious faculty raises above cost of living, and offsets rising healthcare costs. Administration’s response yesterday is unfortunately a familiar chorus by now: There is no money for that.

“The administration admitted they don’t have a plan to invest in faculty for the sake of our students, now, or in the future” said Janet Smith, UICUF president. “Our faculty clearly think it’s time to address that.”

Bargaining Power
It is critical, now more than ever, for UICUF members to show the administration our resolve, and we have an immediate opportunity to do so. There will be another bargaining session, tomorrow, Friday, 4/12, from 12-3:30pm, at Student Center East, Third Floor, Dearborn Room B.

Packing the bargaining room with members is the best way to show that faculty will not stand down from demanding a high quality working and learning environment at UIC. We also hope that filling the room with members to observe firsthand the administration’s attitude toward faculty will help to change the dynamics at the table we have seen so far.

Strike Resources
It’s important to be prepared in the event of a strike, and many of you will have questions, or have questions asked of you. We’ve put together a couple of FAQ’s for our members as we make ourselves strike ready.

Faculty FAQ
FAQ for Talking to Students

Further questions should be directed to UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com or to your College Representative.

***

Our strike hashtags are #UICFacultyStrike #FairContractNow #Solidarity.

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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11 Apr Strike Authorization Press Release

 

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UIC Faculty Authorize Strike
UIC’s top priority must be to ensure students receive a world class education

CHICAGO- More than 93 percent of voting University of Illinois-Chicago United Faculty (UICUF) members have voted to authorize a strike, if necessary, to secure a fair and equitable contract.

“This vote sends a strong message from our members that they are prepared to fight for a contract that recognizes their contributions to the core missions of the university,” said Aaron Krall, UICUF executive vice president and co-chair of bargaining.

UIC is growing, and enrollment is at a record high. To accommodate this growth, UICUF believes the administration should invest in our exceptional faculty to ensure that providing students with a world-class education remains the university’s top priority.

“The administration admitted they don’t have a plan to invest in faculty for the sake of our students,” said Janet Smith, UICUF president. “Our faculty clearly think it’s time to address that.”

Faculty have sacrificed during lean times. Now that the university has record enrollment and a $1 billion infrastructure plan is in place for the U of I system, faculty deserve a fair compensation package.

UICUF has been bargaining for nearly a year, but the administration refuses to adequately address the issues of compensation. While enrollment has increased 24 percent over the last five years, new faculty have not been hired to keep up with it. At the same time, salaries have not kept up with inflation, so some faculty members can’t afford to live in the city where they teach.

“Now is the time for the administration to show its commitment to and value of the very people responsible for executing the academic mission of the university,” said Jeffrey Kessler, UICUF member.

If a fair agreement is not reached, faculty members may strike later this month.

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 American Association of University Professors.

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09 Apr Faculty Strike FAQ

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As of April 11th, UICUF has filed an intent to strike. This does not guarantee a strike will occur, but allows our bargaining team to call for one no sooner than 10 calendar days after filing. If a strike becomes necessary to win a fair contract for faculty, UICUF wants to make sure you have as much information as possible. Below, we’ve tried to anticipate the most common questions, but if you can’t find the answers you’re looking for, please email UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

Printable version of this FAQ: Faculty Strike FAQ

For guidance on discussing a strike with students, see our Student FAQ

Who can go on strike?
Anyone who is in the bargaining unit is authorized to go on strike, whether or not you participated in the strike vote. Striking is a right of every union represented employee regardless of whether you are a membership or not in the organization. However, access to certain financial assistance programs offered by IFT/AFT/AAUP are only available to members who have signed UICUF union cards.

What does a strike look like for faculty?
Faculty are asked to cancel all classes, office hours, and participation in committee work and other activities and to support the union by picketing for a few hours each day of the strike. There will be designated locations on campus which faculty and supporters can go for instructions and signs. We will also have a place to get coffee and snacks. Look for email with more details if we strike.

Picketing will be peaceful, and is a good opportunity to show our resolve to the administration, as well as stand in solidarity with our students, fellow faculty members, supporters from the university and community. Strike activities include, but are not limited to:

  • legal picketing at entrances to campus buildings,
  • rallying in central/visible locations on campus
  • peacefully distributing literature to students and the public,
  • speaking out to the public as to the purpose of the strike,
  • serving on the contact team for the local, state and national media,

For a successful strike we need to mobilize numerous volunteers to show our solidarity and strength.

But what if I just want to stay home from work and not do any of those activities?
There is no such thing as being partially on strike. Support of a strike means we do not report for work or perform work duties for the duration of the strike. But it also means that we get out and do as much as we can to make the action successful. We each must decide what that means given the nature and scope of our work at a public research university.

How does picketing work?
Picketing is a lawful expression of our first amendment rights. It is our most visible expression of purpose and solidarity. We can picket at any public place, but we cannot completely block an entrance or exit, or cause a danger to health and safety. Before any picketing events, we will confer with IFT legal counsel, the Chicago Police Department, UIC Police, and the Illinois State Police to ensure that we are in compliance with their directives, local ordinances and state laws. All picketers will be given a list of proper conduct on a picket line.

Before the first date of our strike, members will receive an email informing them of our central meeting location for picketing.  They will then be given signs and directed to walk back and forth in front of doors to buildings where classes are commonly taught.  Members should not yell at those who decide to cross the line; but our picket lines ARE the message that anyone in the bargaining unit who enters the classroom is undermining our solidarity.

Will my pay be docked for going on strike? What about Insurance?
The university has the legal right to withhold pay during a strike but the issue must be bargained with the union. We believe that there should be no disruptions to health insurance since, assuming a strike later in April, we will be “pre-paying” for our monthly insurance on April 15 when we receive our paychecks. During other recent strikes at University of Illinois, including our strike in 2014, the employer still provided health insurance. Also, zero interest loans are available through the IFT/AFT and UICUF has a strike fund for members in need.

Will the university know who participated in the strike?
You are under no obligation to inform management in advance as to whether you will be taking part in a strike or other action. No one individual can be isolated for his or her involvement— a majority of the membership will be taking collective action and standing in solidarity together. Recording or threatening to record the names of employees who engage in protected activity is against the law.

If you are asked by your department head or chair about striking: Don’t answer. Their request about whether or not you will be working – even if phrased innocuously – can be perceived as chilling your rights under the IELRB. You should show them a copy of the strike notice UICUF filed and tell them it is illegal for them to ask faculty about participation. If they persist, immediately inform a union representative or email us.

Can I be fired or disciplined for striking?
No. Your right to strike is protected under Illinois law- whether you have signed a union card or not.

A strike is legal under Illinois Law if procedural conditions are met. To “fire” us or attempt to retaliate against us because of participation in this legal action violates the Illinois Labor Act (115 ILCS 5/14a) which prohibits an educational employer from:

  • “interfering, restraining, or coercing employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed under the Act.”
  • “discriminating in regard to hire, tenure of employment or any term or condition of employment to encourage or discourage membership in any employee organization.”

Dismissal, termination, non-renewal, or other forms of discrimination to break a strike will be vigorously opposed. IFT/AFT/AAUP legal funds are earmarked to protect these rights.

Many workers in the University of Illinois system have been on strike, and none were disciplined or fired. Any bargaining unit members who believe they are being singled out for disciplinary action as the result of participation in this strike should contact their union representative immediately.

What about Students, Graduate Employees, Adjuncts, Civil Service Employees and others on campus?
During the strike, individuals may be crossing the line specifically because they are not in our bargaining unit. This includes some lecturers and adjuncts whose appointments make them ineligible for membership, and do not have the protections of their own union contract.  Many, including TAs, have clauses in their union contracts that prevent them from striking in sympathy with other unions. Some people will have the ability to work elsewhere or to take a vacation or personal day, but others have no choice but to work on the days of our strike. We will not try to persuade them not to cross, though we will provide them flyers that inform them of what we are doing and why, and we will invite them to picket with us once they are out of class or off work.

Adjuncts, part-time lecturers, and other faculty who are not a part of any union bargaining unit can contact us with questions as needed at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

Can the university use graduate students to teach my classes while I’m on strike?
Graduate assistants and teaching assistants are protected from teaching load increases through their Graduate Employee Organization (GEO) union contract, and therefore should not be asked to take on work otherwise normally done by faculty. As stated above, they cannot withhold their own labor, so sections, labs, grading or other responsibilities they have in relation to your class may continue. We encourage grad workers to reschedule or relocate classes in accordance with their academic unit’s policies where possible to avoid crossing picket lines.

My unit requires me to document which days I do and do not work.  How do I deal with this?
You should not provide any information about whether or not you worked on the days UICUF was on strike.  It is an unfair labor practice for administrators to document who does and does not participate in a strike.  If someone challenges you on this, you should show them a copy of the strike notice UICUF filed and tell them that they cannot ask faculty about participation.  If they persist, you should immediately inform a union representative or email us.

How do I communicate with my students about the strike?
We are a union of professionals and we know that our members don’t like taking any action that affects students. However, when we take action, we are making a case for the quality of the service we provide. We believe that our students will be hurt far more by management’s actions than our own. Observing the strike is defending the interests of staff and students alike. Undermining the strike will only serve to encourage management and we will all suffer more in the longer term. Formally, it is management’s responsibility to explain to students if classes are to be cancelled on strike days. However, you may wish to talk to your students before the strike explaining why the union is taking this action, and we have provided a one-page leaflet for this purpose.

Faculty may wish to specifically indicate to students that while grad workers will continue with their sections/labs, lectures may not occur, that faculty may not be available, and that grades will be established on the basis of whatever assignments were completed, in accordance with department policies. For more ways to discuss the strike with students, see our Student FAQ.

I have federal grants that require me to continue working. What should I do?
You may continue working on grant-funded research that mandates you continue working—our strike is of labor contributed directly to the university, with whose administrators we are negotiating. But classes, committee meetings and other university functions are included in the strike.

If a strike happens, what about my access to university equipment?
Remove anything you’ll need from your office before the proposed strike date. Please do not pop-in to your office or lab during the strike – even for a minute.

What about answering work emails?
For the purposes of a strike, answering your work email is work. We advise faculty to put up an away message notifying people that you are on strike for a fair contract, and will return any communications after the strike ends. Communications from the union will not go to work emails at all regarding the strike. Email UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com if you need to notify the union of a non-work email you wish to receive strike updates on.

How does my immigration status affect my right to strike?
Individuals who are H-1B visa holders and permanent residency visa holders (Green Card) have the right to strike as a lawful activity. F-1 visa holders have the right to strike or not strike unless the US Department of Labor certifies the strike, at which time F-1 holders must not report for work (in essence F-1 visa holders cannot be used as a strike breakers.) There are no specific rules about strikes for J-1 visa holders. The safest advice for J-1 visa holders is to stay within the wording of the Exchange Visitor Program in which they are enrolled. It is clear that J-1 visa holders cannot be used as substitutes or replacements for other employees who are on strike. Questions or issues about visa matters should be directed to the designated strike committee contact person.

Email questions to uicunitedfaculty@gmail.com. For immediate concerns, call or text Jeff Edwards at 773-895-6499.

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04 Apr Strike Authorization Voting Instructions

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UIC United Faculty has called a vote on whether to authorize our bargaining committee to call a strike, if they deem it necessary to secure a fair contract. Members should thoroughly read the following information on why we’ve called this vote, and how to participate. You can email any questions to UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com, and a staff member will get back to you as soon as possible.

PLEASE NOTE: Even if you signed a pledge card, you must still show up to cast your vote!

Why We’ve Called a Strike Authorization Vote:
Enrollment is booming and billion-dollar infrastructure plans are being touted at UIC. Meanwhile faculty, who’s collective compensation is only ~7% of the university’s budget, are being told to tighten our belts and accept a sub-par compensation plan, without any provisions to offset anticipated increasing health care costs. Further, administration continues to fight against robust due process protections for our members. With the UI system’s propensity for provoking strikes on full display at this time, putting our own strike authorization on the table may be the only way to have them take our issues seriously.

A large turnout and affirmative vote to authorize a strike will give our negotiators greater leverage to win a fair contract before a strike needs to be called.

When Will the Strike Vote Take Place:
From 10am-5pm Monday, 4/8 through Wednesday, 4/10

Where Will Voting Take Place:
East Campus
-UH Lobby
-BSB Lobby
-SEO Lobby
-SES Lobby (via the entrance on Taylor St.)

West Campus
-SPH Lobby

Who is Eligible to Vote:
All members can vote. Non-members who are covered in our contact/bargaining unit may vote after signing a membership card to join the union at the polling station.

Absentee Voting:
If you are unable to vote in person, you may designate another UICUF member to vote as your proxy. To exercise this option, email your proxy, and CC UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com, with the following statement:  

“I hereby designate ______________ as my proxy in the UICUF Strike Authorization Vote of April 8-10. This individual will be empowered to cast a ballot on my behalf.”

UICUF will confirm via email the receipt of your intention to vote by proxy. Your proxy voter must then print the email and leave it with election monitors at the station where they vote.

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02 Apr UIC United Faculty Plan to Hold Strike Authorization Vote

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Dear UICUF Member,

I am writing to announce that UIC United Faculty will hold a strike authorization vote beginning next Monday, April 8th through the 10th. Details on voting times and locations will follow soon. Your participation in this vote is critical.

As a reminder, a strike authorization vote is the first step toward being able to strike, but it does not guarantee a strike will happen. The bargaining team, after being authorized, decides whether or not to call a strike based on what is happening at the table.

We do not go into this lightly.

We have been negotiating since June 2018 and our contract expired in August. Our bargaining team has won many important concessions, but on issues of pay and equity, we have yet to see a serious offer. While enrollment booms and billion-dollar infrastructure plans are being touted proudly, we are being told to tighten our belts and accept a sub-par compensation plan, without any provisions to offset anticipated increasing health care costs.

Authorizing a strike is one of the strongest tools union members have to exert pressure at the bargaining table, and unfortunately, the UI system’s recent history suggests that the administration won’t give us a fair contract without this escalation.

Among the hundreds of faculty we’ve spoken to so far, there is a serious and growing concern that a fair contract won’t be reached without putting the possibility of a strike on the table. In advance of the vote, UICUF organizers and volunteers are continuing to have one-on-one conversations with colleagues, and we encourage members and non-members who want to weigh in or learn more to reach out to your College Rep or our Executive Board.

On a final note, we are filing Unfair Labor Practice charges against the administration because of their efforts to use faculty to break the GEO strike under the guise of “supporting our students.” As the administration bears the responsibility to settle a fair contract with us, so too do they bear the sole responsibility for resolving the GEO strike. That is true support for our students.

I want to thank you all for your determination and support in these challenging circumstances. Together we will win this!

In Solidarity,

Janet Smith
President, UIC United Faculty
Proud Union Member

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28 Mar Bargaining, Mediation, and Strike Developments

Faculty and Grad Workers picket together as our unions negotiate for fair contracts. Photography by Soohyun Kim.

Faculty and Grad Workers picket together as our unions negotiate for fair contracts. Photography by Soohyun Kim.

  • UICUF met with Admin under federal mediation, offered a new comprehensive proposal
  • Proportional moves narrow gaps in negotiating positions, but major differences remain
  • Faculty continue to support GEO strike as we contemplate our own strike authorization  
  • Contact your College Rep to weigh-in/learn more about potential strike authorization vote
  • UIC GEO Rally: Joint faculty/grad action Mon, 12-1pm, 4/1 @East Campus Quad


A New Phase of Negotiations
UICUF and Administration negotiators met with a federal mediator for the first time this Tuesday, marking a new phase in faculty contract negotiations. Mediation is typically sought as a way to continue making progress when negotiations become more difficult or contentious. The mediator’s role is to act as a neutral third party, while helping to broker an agreement both sides can live with.

In this first meeting with the mediator, we presented the Admin team with a newly updated comprehensive proposal, covering every outstanding article under negotiation, to get the ball rolling. Within this proposal, we:

  • Moved proportionally on raise pools (down 1% from 2nd year merit pools in return for Admin coming up .5% on 2nd and 3rd year Compression & Equity pools)
  • Replaced contract language creating a 3rd rank for Instructors/Lecturers with a side letter agreeing to reopen the issue, pursuant to Senate consideration of the subject
  • Agreed to Admin commitment on limiting the use of student evaluations in isolation

 

Admin acknowledged our movement largely without comment, and did not offer any other movement of their own in this session, leaving the ball in their court on all outstanding proposals. As such, no new articles where TA’d, and despite narrowing gaps in several areas, our key positions remain far apart, especially on compensation. In addition to fair raise pools, faculty are seeking protections for health/retirement benefits, a commitment to hire new tenure-line faculty, and clear procedures for discipline, dismissal and addressing academic freedom violations.

GEO Strike Continues, Faculty Strike Vote Remains Under Consideration
Our grad worker colleagues remain on strike as Administration refuses to discuss limits on student fees or other money issues. Grads have garnered a major influx of support, both internally from departmental faculty and student resolutions, and externally from national groups and Bernie Sanders. Faculty can refer to our Faculty FAQs for information about rights and responsibilities during the strike. UICUF members are encouraged to join the GEO rally at 12pm Monday, 4/1 in the East Campus Quad to show our solidarity.

UICUF organizers and volunteers, meanwhile, are continuing to have one-on-one conversations with colleagues about the potential for our own strike authorization vote. Though negotiations are still fluid at this time, the distance between the two sides, particularly on pay and equity issues, remains large. From the hundreds of conversations we’ve had with faculty thus far, there is a growing concern that a fair contract won’t be reached without putting the possibility of a strike on the table.

As we discussed last week, a strike authorization vote is the first step toward being able to strike, but does not guarantee a strike will happen. Once a strike has been authorized through a vote by the membership, it is up to the bargaining team to decide whether to call it based on what is happening at the table. Authorizing a strike is one of the strongest tools union members have to exert pressure on management at the bargaining table, and it is crucial for every member to vote so that the results are an accurate representation of what the full membership wants. Members and non-members who want to weigh in or learn more, are encouraged to reach out to your College Rep or our Executive Board.

***

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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21 Mar Faculty Bargaining Continues Amid Grad Worker Strike

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  • Faculty win concessions at the table as grad strike pressure mounts, mediation looms
  • Admin’s financial offers remain disappointing, as does the reasoning behind them
  • UICUF members increasingly support striking, authorization vote now being considered
  • Bargaining Session #20: Observe/caucus with our team, 2-5pm, 3/26, @SCE, Rm 603


Wins at the Table
In our 20th bargaining session the administration brought us counter positions that actually showed movement on their side! As a result, we were able to sign two more tentative agreements and a side letter that include:

  • Course loads and class sizes to be defined through shared governance at the department/program level
  • Commitments to provide all faculty with appropriate office space
  • Commitments to expanded access to lactation rooms and gender neutral bathrooms
  • Reporting on implementation of safety provisions related to the new evening class schedule


Strengthening shared governance has been a central issue for us this year, and contractually codifying its role in defining workloads is a major milestone. We believe this will protect faculty from unilateral, uncompensated workload increases because they must now be included in such decisions.

An “Interesting” Financial Offer
Admin negotiators also moved slightly on money articles. While there was no movement from their merit pool (2%, 1.5%, 1.5%), they did up their offer by 1% on Compression/Equity pools over the life of the contract. However, they also invited our team to reconsider separating this CE pool from Market/Retention. Of course to change what they have offered us would be regressive bargaining (replacing a previous offer with something less favorable) so it was just a discussion, and an interesting one in which the Admin argued that 1) some faculty don’t deserve raises, and 2) that compression/equity issues could be completely addressed within a year.

What this suggests is that some faculty deserve to get poorer, and that an intrinsically uneven system of merit raises won’t continue to produce equity or compression issues over time. Most faculty agree that merit is important, but the Compression/Equity pool is meant to address its inherent shortcomings. Regardless, UICUF believes the best tool for retention is a consistently robust merit pool, which currently sits below inflation figures, and which admin so far has refused to grow.

Movement Amid Growing Pressure is No Coincidence
These agreements aren’t gifts. They are the result of over 9 months of negotiations, and increasing pressure on administration to drop their uncooperative stance with both faculty and grad workers. Grads began their indefinite strike Tuesday morning, hours before this session, and mediation for our negotiations will begin next week. While faculty and grad negotiations aren’t technically related, the mutual support our unions have demonstrated has clearly had an effect at the bargaining table.

Mediation and Strike Authorization
Our next bargaining session will be conducted through a federal mediator. This is a step that indicates the process is not yielding satisfactory results for either side. Despite progress at the table this week, it did not come without pressure including our refusal to bargain against ourselves. While we hope mediation will help us mutually move toward a comprehensive agreement, we are at the point where we must consider the possibility of more direct action to win a fair contract.

Over the last three weeks, union members have been discussing the negotiations one-on-one with each other. What we have heard overwhelmingly indicates members would authorize a strike if a vote were called. For most, it is believed that this may be the only way to move the administration toward agreement on a fair and just contract.

To this end, UICUF is moving toward holding a strike authorization vote the week after spring break. A strike authorization vote is the first step toward being able to strike, but does not guarantee a strike will happen. Once a strike has been authorized through a vote by the membership, it is up to the bargaining team to decide whether to call it based on what is happening at the table. Authorizing a strike is one of the strongest tools union members have to exert pressure on management at the bargaining table, and it is crucial for every member to vote so that the results are an accurate representation of what the full membership wants. Members and non-members who want to weigh in or learn more, are encouraged to reach out to your College Rep or our Executive Board.

***

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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