21 Aug Press Release: UIC United Faculty Issues Statement on Campus Safety
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 21, 2020
Robert Johnston, UICUF Chief Steward
Aaron Krall, UICUF Executive Vice-President
Charitianne Williams, UICUF Communications Chair
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.