16 Apr Uncertainty in Academia and How You Can Prepare
- Our contract offers many protections on issues ranging from workload policies to evaluations, but faculty must take advantage of them through shared governance!
- While we bargain the impacts of COVID19, we strongly recommend faculty review departmental workload, evaluation and reappointment policies and go to work now on creating them if they don’t already exist!
- Contact us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com for assistance in requesting and/or creating policies through shared governance that will be guaranteed by our contract!
It’s no secret that academia is facing a great deal of uncertainty right now, and faculty will very likely face changes in the future that we can’t immediately predict. While UIC United Faculty has a right to bargain new contractual agreements over the impact of COVID-19, we want to remind our members that we already have a variety of tools to ensure fair treatment in these unpredictable times. Specifically, we fought for and won provisions in our current contract that give faculty the right to shape workload, evaluation, and reappointment policies through shared governance in their departments.
UICUF strongly encourages any faculty member reading this message to consider how they can ensure that their department has policies in place for workloads, evaluations, and reappointment processes. We want to further encourage you to reach out to us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com or to your college’s union representative for help crafting these policies if they are not already in place.
After our current contract was finally settled, we emerged with robust protections for workloads. This was one of the hardest fought issues in our negotiation with the administration, and represents a powerful tool for faculty to exert influence over working conditions. Critically, the contract stipulates that workloads must be defined through shared governance at the academic unit level, and that once defined, they can’t be changed without faculty input. Of course, to enjoy the benefits of this contractual protection, your academic unit has to first take steps to create the policy!
In light of current conditions, we strongly recommend that even if you already have a written policy in place, you consider revisiting it. This policy should address the number and size of classes expected to be taught in a semester/academic year, as well as any administrative, research, or service duties faculty are responsible for. At this time, we also recommend considering how this policy might be used to define fair conditions for remote work.
Reviewing Evaluation Policy
All academic units are required by contract and University policy to have a written policy in place regarding how evaluations are done. Per university policy, FPPG Section 701, there are a number of things that every academic unit must include, such as self-evaluations, and the policy must be reviewed every 5-7 years through shared governance. In light of current guidance on the use of teaching evaluations, we strongly recommend faculty review their academic unit policy before evaluations are administered this semester.
Per our contract and University policies, reappointment procedures MUST BE DEFINED in unit bylaws. Unfortunately, many departments have not met this minimum standard. If your department has not defined this procedure, now is a critical moment to do so.
We highly encourage any faculty member reading this to get involved, and to contact your union via our general email, UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com for information and support.
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