News

06 Mar We Shouldn’t Have to Strike to Get a Fair Contract

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  • Grad workers ready to go on strike indefinitely, as faculty negotiations go to mediation
  • Fraught relations with unions are a reminder of UI System’s history of provoking strikes
  • Faculty to rally and picket, appeal to UI BOT: “Don’t make us strike to get a fair contract!”
  • SIGN-MAKING PARTY: w/free pizza! Mon, 3/11, 5-7pm @UIC Latino Cultural Center
  • RALLY AND INFO PICKET: Thurs, 3/14, 11:30am-1pm @University Hall


History Repeats Itself
At our last negotiating session, the Administration team agreed to join us in seeking mediation, acknowledging the deep divide that remains between the two sides. Meanwhile, grad workers, who’ve bargained for a year without meaningful progress on their most important issues, have resoundingly authorized an indefinite strike. Provoking mediation and strikes is not a negotiating record to be proud of, yet this seems to be the UI System’s standard operating procedure. Just last year, grad workers at UIUC were forced to go on strike to protect tuition waivers, and win fair raises. Before that, faculty at UIS, UIUC, and here at UIC, all had to strike to get their first contracts. While not surprising, it is disappointing that UI’s labor relations strategy has once again brought one union to the brink of a work stoppage, while our own union is forced to consider a similar route.

Time to Turn the Page
With that clear pattern of behavior looming over our negotiations, UICUF is making a strong appeal to the UI Board of Trustees, and our Administration, to change the narrative. New board members will be taking their seats on the UI Board of Trustees next Thursday, and letters from the union are already in the mail welcoming them, but also laying out clear expectations that they must do better for unionized workers at all our campuses. It is high time to turn the page on the toxic stance the UI System has taken towards its employees.

To ensure this message is heard, we will have a rally and informational picket at UIC, as the board meets in Urbana. Our goal is to change the status quo, in favor of a more collegial future. To reach that future though, UIC’s unions need fair contracts now. The rally will be held Thursday, 3/14 at 11:30am outside of University Hall, followed by a picket at noon. Members and allies are encouraged to join us in sending the message to the BoT and Administration: “Don’t make us strike to get a fair contract!”  

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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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28 Feb UICUF Commitments and momentum: Update on 2/22 bargaining session

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  • UIC’s budget presentation overlooks investment in faculty.
  • Administration admits to not planning for the economic future of UIC faculty.
  • Both sides agree to move forward with third-party mediation.

 

Dear members,
On Friday we had our 18th negotiation session with the Administration team. Over 40 UIC faculty from across campus attended as observers and caucused with the bargaining team. The experience was as eye-opening as promised, although no counter-proposals were offered by the Administration team, and no TA’s were reached.

Questioning commitments
The session opened with a budget presentation describing UIC’s funding lines and budget priorities, which included a plan for deferred maintenance, but not for deferred investment in faculty. For many of the faculty present, the presentation raised as many questions as it gave answers: How much does the education of a UIC student really cost? Why aren’t they fighting for the BOT and state to fund the education of UIC students? If the paradigm never shifts, is the admin ready to accept the same financial conditions faculty have accepted for the past decade?

We were told in negotiations that university administration is committed in principle to improving faculty working conditions that ensure continued student and faculty excellence, but at this moment in time, administration will not commit to action.

  • They will not commit to every member of the UIC faculty having office space.
  • They will not commit to ensuring every faculty member enjoys academic freedom through clear and transparent processes in which faculty voices play an important role.
  • They will not commit to long-deferred raises that will finally bring salaries in line with rising inflation costs that have essentially created pay cuts for many faculty during past austerity.

 

Gaining momentum
It is our position that in this time of growing enrollments, increased economic prosperity, and a growing national and international reputation, more gains for faculty must be won to continue the  institution’s momentum and progress. We will not accept a contract that does otherwise. On Friday, the administrative team agreed to third-party mediation, which is an important step toward the contract we all deserve.

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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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21 Feb Are Faculty Naive?

NaiveUIC

  • 120 faculty met yesterday to discuss bargaining, UIC finances, and our values.
  • Faculty proposals further UIC’s education mission at a tiny fraction of revenue surplus.
  • BARGAINING SESSION 18: Fri, 2/22, 1-4pm @SCE Tower, Rm 603
  • ORGANIZER TRAININGS: Open to all interested members, Mon, 2/25, 3-5pm and Tues, 2/26, 12-2pm @UICUF offices 1016W. Jackson Blvd.


120 union members met yesterday to discuss contract bargaining, university finances, and our shared values. For many attending, the budget figures we looked at were revelatory, as was the reality of Administration’s resistance to faculty proposals.

Admin negotiators have repeatedly asserted that faculty are acting naively at the bargaining table, that the finances are set and nothing can be changed. But if naivete means believing a better university is possible, or challenging Admin’s narrow view of what’s possible in a labor contract, the energy in the room yesterday suggests we have a whole lot of naive faculty at UIC.

Naive to Think Education is a Priority?
Our economic proposals represent less than 2% of the university’s revenue surplus this year–yet we are naive to think that education, and those who work to provide it, should be a priority in a university’s budget. Administration warns (read: threatens) tuition hikes and lay-offs if salaries rise, even though the latest financial reports describe a very healthy balance sheet for UIC. Additionally, Gov. Pritzker just proposed a 5% increase in higher education funding, and states have been reversing spending cuts for over a year now (the trend is still going strong). Admin would have us believe they need maximum flexibility in case we regress into abject austerity, recent news notwithstanding. How naive do they think we are?

A Naivete Worth Fighting For
So when Administration points to our proposals for fair salaries, for hiring faculty to keep up with enrollment, for protecting shared governance and academic freedom, and calls us naive, maybe they’re right. We believe UIC can do better. We believe education should be a funding priority. We believe faculty deserve more from a labor contract. That’s the kind of naivete worth fighting for.

No Substitute for Experience
The best way to know the truth of something is to experience it first hand. Come to our bargaining session tomorrow, Friday, 2/22/19, 1-4pm @Student Center East Tower, Room 603. Over 100 members have come to observe and caucus with the team to date, and we encourage you to join us in this eye-opening experience. If you cannot attend bargaining, consider training with the UICUF organizing team around contract action issues. Trainings will be held Monday, 2/25, from 3-5pm and Tuesday, 2/26, from 12-2pm at the UICUF offices (1016W. Jackson Blvd). RSVP to UICUFJeff@gmail.com if you are able to attend either 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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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

UICUF WEHEARTUIC

  • 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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