- 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.
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.
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!