Author: Tony Floriani

24 Jun Support the Bargaining Team at the Table & Remember to Vote on Tuesday

  • Next Bargaining Session is Monday, June 27: UICUF’s Bargaining Committee invites union members to observe all bargaining sessions with the university’s administration.
     
  • Illinois Primary Election is Tuesday, June 28: Don’t forget to vote if you are eligible, and you can make use of the Illinois Federation of Teachers’ endorsement list to identify strong pro-public education and pro-union candidates.
  • Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) Opportunities: You can pitch in to support proven allies of public education who are in tough election fights.

Dear Colleagues,

Monday, June 27th Bargaining Session, 10 am to noon.

The UICUF Bargaining Committee will be introducing new proposals regarding three articles of our current contract: 

  • Article IX. Appointment, Reappointment, Promotion, Layoff and Recall 
  • Article XII. Hours of Work and Commitment
  • Article XIV. Physical Conditions 

We will also be presenting counter proposals on four other articles: 

  • Article IV. Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment
  • Article X. Academic Freedom
  • Article XI. Governance
  • Article XVI. Labor Management Meetings

We are expecting counter proposals from the administration on: 

  • Article XV. Discipline and Dismissal
  • Article XVII. Access to Personnel File
  • Article XVIII. Grievance and Arbitration

Members may observe via zoom, and join conversations with colleagues during caucus sessions. Please do not speak during the live bargaining between our team and the administration.

Tuesday, June 28th Illinois Primary Election

UICUF leadership encourages our members who are eligible voters to participate in the Illinois primary election. The Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) has vetted candidates seeking IFT endorsement and have made endorsements in selected races where they think there is a clear preference based on candidate legislative records and stated positions on public education and unions. Members of UICUF’s Committee on Political Education participated in IFT’s endorsement process. You can find those endorsements here.

GOTV Opportunities

We have strong public education allies who serve in the Illinois legislature who are in contested races and have requested help. They have frequently sponsored and/or voted for bills that advocate for investment in higher education, K-12 schools, and protection of retirement benefits for public workers. They serve on important House and Senate committees and always take into consideration the impact legislation will have on working people. The opposition to their election or re-election in these races comes from the Fraternal Order of Police, the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCs), and/or corporate interests. Because these districts overlap, a coordinated campaign is being waged to support all of them together.

Delia Ramirez – running for the newly drawn 3rd US Congressional District, which covers much of the NW side and suburbs, and includes West Town, Humboldt Park, Hermosa, Avondale, parts of Albany Park, and extending towards Elgin.  Delia is endorsed by Chuy Garcia, Elizabeth Warren, Jan Schakowsky, and Bernie Sanders. She currently serves as an assistant majority leader in the Illinois House 4th district.
Omar Aquino – Senate, 2nd district
Rob Martwick – Senate, 10th district
Lillian Jimenez – Illinois House, 4th district (running for the seat that Delia Ramirez holds).
Lindsey LaPointe – Illinois House, 19th district

Can you help us elect these allies of the public good? Contact John Cusick (jcusick@ift-aft.org, 773-759-6120). 

Solidarity,

UIC United Faculty Leadership

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20 Jun Seeking information about salary payment delays and other issues

Dear UICUF member, 

Many UIC faculty have been having repeated problems with delayed pay. UICUF members have been reaching out to see what can be done, but because of the complicated bureaucracy involved, we don’t have a clear sense of where the issue originates or how best to approach it. We also do not know how widespread the problem of delayed pay is. 

To help us get a better sense of this problem and potential solutions, please fill out this short survey about your experience with timely (or untimely) payment. 

Because we want to get an accurate picture, please forward this email to any faculty members in your department that may not be represented by the union, but may be having problems.

In solidarity, 
UIC United Faculty leadership

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14 Jun Professional Development funds are a part of
your compensation!

  • The UICUF 2018-2022 contract guarantees every faculty member professional development funds as a part of their compensation package. 
  • Many departments ask faculty to submit claims for reimbursement by the end of the fiscal year, June 30: August 15 is the hard deadline.
     

From our contract:

Article VI. Compensation, Leaves, and Group Health
A.1.c Professional Expense Reimbursements

Funds will be allocated each year of this Agreement so that each bargaining unit member shall receive up to ($600 NTT or $900 TT) for expenses related only to research and/or teaching-related professional development, to be reimbursed in accordance with University policy and guidelines. In the event that a bargaining unit member has an opportunity to travel for professional meetings/conferences, specific to their employment duties, then they may be eligible for an additional $600. Pre-approval for the additional funding must be obtained from the Unit Executive Officer prior to the event and, if approved, will be reimbursed in accordance with University policy and guidelines. These funds supplement departmental professional development budgets, if any, rather than replace them.

Professional development funds should be considered a part of your compensation/benefits package, although system policy stipulates that they must be used in a manner that befits and benefits the university. All programs and department bylaws should outline what is and is not acceptable use for these funds. In addition to the professional development funds, all faculty are entitled to an additional $600 dollars specifically for travel-related expenses related to meeting/conference attendance. This $600 dollars must be pre-approved by the faculty member’s Executive Officer. It is important to note that the funds established by the union contract is a minimum amount, and does not limit the amount departments may grant faculty for important development opportunities.

The hard deadline to use these funds is August 15th, although many departments ask faculty to use funds in advance of the deadline, either citing the end of the university fiscal year–June 30–or potential delays in processing a sudden onslaught of requests. In the spirit of collegiality, faculty should make every effort to comply with these requests when possible, but August 15th is the contractual deadline. Some members are reporting increased delays in reimbursement due to the system’s switch to a new reporting system for expenses. With these issues in mind, we would like to emphasize the importance of all faculty using their professional development funds as soon as possible as they do not roll over from previous academic years.

If you encounter issues with using your professional development funds, please do not hesitate to reach out to your local UICUF Representative Assembly Member (see list below) or email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

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08 Jun Contract Bargaining Continues: Get to Know Your Contract!

  • U of I System announces 2022 salary program: Similar to past practice, administration refuses to grant merit-based salary raise pool to UICUF members.
  • UICUF Bargaining team met with UIC admin for 4th session: The power of GEO’s strike continues, as admin accepted Article IV revisions that mirror the new GEO contract and rejected our attempts to take their wins farther.
  • Get to know your contract: Article XV of our faculty contract discusses processes in matters of faculty Discipline.

University-wide 2022 salary program announced

On May 31 System President Tim Killeen announced a 3.5% merit-based raise pool for the U of I system. In line with past practice, the announcement stated that members of collective bargaining units would not be a part of this pool until contract negotiations were concluded. 

Withholding campus salary raises from the bargaining unit is not a necessary part of the contract negotiation process.  Without a doubt it is a choice made by the administration as a part of their negotiation tactics. We are particularly concerned that this decision, this year, shows a great disrespect for faculty, given our struggles with inflation and, even more, our substantial collective sacrifices during the pandemic. 

That said, we wish to remind members that in the past our contracts have always used the salary program as a baseline for our raise pool–which we will demand be applied retroactively to faculty salaries upon the completion of the new contract


Contract Bargaining Updates

The UICUF bargaining team met with the administration bargaining team for a fourth session on Monday. Last session we submitted five articles for consideration: 

  • Article IV. Non-Discrimination
  • Article XV. Discipline and Dismissal
  • Article XVI. Labor Management Meetings
  • Article XVII. Access to Personnel File
  • Article XVIII. Grievance and Arbitration 

Our proposals for Article IV. Non-Discrimination mirrors the language of the current GEO contract with a few important changes. Thanks to the incredible work of our GEO colleagues who struck for eight days to win significant protections for survivors, the administration team offered us nearly everything that GEO won in their last contract. However, they rejected our additional proposals, including timely notification of faculty who are the subject of an OAE complaint, a clearer definition of and condemnation of workplace bullying, and removal of the “responsible employee” designation for faculty to support survivors’ right to decide when and how to report misconduct. 

 We also continued to discuss Article XVI (Labor Management Meetings), Article X (Academic Freedom) and Article XI (Governance). A central issue in all of these articles is increasing our ability to collaborate with the administration through greater faculty and union representation in important decision-making committees and direct access to top administrators. While we did not resolve our disagreements on these issues, we had a productive discussion. 

Get To Know Your Contract
UIC UF Faculty Contract (2018-2022)
Article XV. Discipline and Dismissal (NTT Version)

A. The University may discipline, suspend, or dismiss a non-tenure track system bargaining unit member prior to the end of their appointment term for just cause. 

B. The University and Union agree with the principle of positive progressive discipline intended to correct deficiencies when possible, and that a reasonable process under the circumstances is required to impose discipline for just cause. Progressive discipline is based on the idea that as offenses occur appropriate discipline will be administered in a progressive manner.  The parties acknowledge that discipline might not be progressive if the offense is sufficiently serious.  

C. The levels of progressive discipline for bargaining unit members are (1) verbal counseling, (2) letter of warning, (3) suspension, and (4) dismissal.

D. In cases of disciplinary verbal counseling the unit head must inform the non-tenure track system bargaining unit member that they are receiving a verbal counseling and must provide the reasons for the verbal counseling. 

E. A unit head shall convene a pre-disciplinary meeting if discipline other than a verbal counseling is contemplated, and notify the non-tenure track system bargaining unit member in writing of the purpose of the meeting at least two (2) days in advance of the meeting. The non-tenure track system bargaining unit member shall be given the opportunity at or before the meeting to rebut the reasons for the contemplated discipline.

F. Non-tenure track system bargaining unit members have the right to Union representation throughout the disciplinary process, including during any investigatory interview that may reasonably lead to discipline.

G. Except for purposes of determining a pattern of behavior, letters of warning will remain in effect for purposes of progressive discipline for only two full consecutive semesters.

H. Situations in which a faculty member is placed on paid leave pending the conclusion of an investigation shall not be considered discipline.

I. A non-tenure track system bargaining unit member may utilize the Grievance and Arbitration procedure set forth in this Agreement to appeal any discipline, suspension or dismissal issued under this Article.  If the arbitrator fails to sustain the University’s action, they may not award any remedy (e.g., compensation, reinstatement, reappointment) for time beyond the terminal date of the appointment during which the non-tenure track system bargaining unit member was disciplined, suspended or dismissed.  Any award of back pay shall not exceed the amount the faculty member would have earned from the date of suspension or dismissal to the end of the term of appointment. 

This article from the non-tenure track contract establishes a protocol for positive progressive discipline in disputes between faculty and administrators related to perceived deficiencies in faculty workplace performance. Positive progressive discipline is a formative process that is intended to correct deficiencies and give faculty opportunities to develop before discipline resulting in professional harm occurs. Letters D through H articulate what each of the 5 levels of action entails.

When an issue with faculty performance is identified by an administrator, the administrator must first address the issue verbally with the faculty member. This does not mean an informal elevator conversation. Verbal counseling must begin with a statement by the administrator that the conversation is a part of the formal progressive disciplinary process, as well as an explanation of the cause for the counseling and a recommended action for resolution. Upon the receipt of a verbal counsel, faculty should contact union representation–all faculty have the right for union representation at any and all stages of the disciplinary process. If the deficiencies are perceived to continue, the faculty member, a union representative of their choosing, and the supervisor must meet so that the faculty member has an opportunity to rebut or question the perception of deficiency. A written letter of warning enumerating the problems must be provided at least two days before the meeting, giving the faculty member the chance to understand the complaints and gather information. 

If the situation escalates, and a faculty member is placed on suspension, the suspension itself cannot be considered punishment and should be paid pending the outcome of a formal investigation presumably following university policy. It is only after these steps have been observed that dismissal is a potential outcome of faculty disciplinary processes. 

Our proposals for this article in the new contract include further articulation of these steps and protections. We hope to ensure that in cases where non-faculty entities, such as the Office of Access and Equity, are part of the process that the faculty member is included in all communications between that entity and their supervisors and that these entities cannot determine punishment of faculty. Our final and most important proposal for this article is to include this language in the Tenure-Track version of our contract. Right now there is no specific protocol for tenure-track faculty in disciplinary situations. For pre-tenure faculty, the lack of a clear process for normative development and progressive discipline is not only a clear danger, but an oversight in regards to the mentorship and support of junior faculty. The university and its executive officers have the responsibility to mentor and develop faculty in meaningful ways, and we envision this policy as a way to ensure faculty have the opportunities to develop when problems arise. 
 

In Solidarity,
The UIC UF Bargaining team

Xochitl Bada (Associate Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies) | Aaron Krall (Senior Lecturer, English) | Andy Baker (Clinical Assistant Professor, Music) | Anna Kornbluh (Professor, English) | Becky Bonarek (Lecturer, Tutorium in Intensive English) | Charitianne Williams (Senior Lecturer, English) | Gosia Fidelis (Associate Professor, History)  | Ian Collins (Clinical Assistant Professor, Daley Library) | Jim Drown (Senior Lecturer, English) | Jeff Gore (Senior Lecturer, English)  | Jennifer Rupert (Senior Lecturer, English, Gender and Women’s Studies) | Kate Floros (Clinical Assistant Professor, Political Science) | Kate Lowe (Associate Professor, Urban Planning and Policy) | Kevin O’Brien (Clinical Associate Professor, Library of the Health Sciences) | Kevin Whyte (Professor, Math, Statistics, and Computer Science) | Laurie Quinn (Clinical Professor, Biobehavioral Nursing Science) | Paul Preissner (Professor, Architecture)

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25 May Judge Recommends Including Bridge to Faculty Scholars in Union!

  • Welcome to the newest UICUF members: In March 2022, 75% of the B2F members signed a petition to join our union. Last week, an administrative law judge recommended including B2Fs in the NTT unit. This puts the end in sight for a nearly two years-long effort to secure union protections for Bridge to Faculty.
  • Labor board to finalize decision June 15: The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board will meet on June 15 and will likely make a final decision based on the judge’s recommendation at that time.

The Bridge to Faculty (B2F) program offers two-year post-doctoral (or post-terminal degree) positions to underrepresented scholars with an expectation that they will join the tenure-track faculty at the end of their post-doc. The B2F program is arguably the foundation for attempts to recruit a more diverse faculty at UIC–one of the most serious issues facing the faculty, and indeed university as a whole.

Almost two years ago, a new UIC faculty member in the first cohort of B2F scholars attempted to join UICUF, the union that her offer letter said she could be a part of. To her, and our, surprise, HR refused to process her membership, saying she was not in the union’s bargaining unit after all. This initiated a fight to ensure union representation for Bridge to Faculty scholars that included a grievance, a bargaining unit clarification petition, and finally a majority interest petition in which 75% of B2Fs signed union cards and petitioned to join UICUF’s non-tenure track bargaining unit. This petition eventually went to a legal hearing in which various faculty and B2Fs testified to demonstrate the wide range of work NTT faculty do and the appropriateness of including B2Fs in that category. The University took a page from the playbook of the typical union buster, arguing that the B2Fs could only be represented in a much larger (and harder to organize) unit of all postdoctoral research associates.

On Thursday, May 19, the judge who presided over the hearing issued a recommendation to accept the petition, finally allowing B2Fs to unionize. The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board will make a final decision based on this recommendation when they meet on June 15. UIC administration, despite the Administrative Law Judge’s well-reasoned recommendation, plans to appeal. UICUF will submit a response to the appeal when the administration actually files it, and the Board will consider the appeal and response in making their final decision.

The University administration has been inexplicably intransigent regarding B2F unionization, resisting informal resolution or settlement at various stages. Indeed, at times the university lawyers have wandered into genuinely insulting territory, suggesting that the highly accomplished scholars in the B2F program are unqualified to be faculty. Through all of this, the B2F scholars have remained admirably committed to advocating for themselves and each other, despite the precarity of their positions.

As B2F scholar Ash Stephens from the Department of Criminology, Law, and Justice explains, “As a postdoctoral scholar/researcher, being a part of UIC United Faculty is crucial to my livelihood. Being a member of UICUF would allow all B2F scholars labor protections and the ability to build collective power. I see unions as a place where many of the inequities of race, class, disability, gender, and other social positions of marginalization are prioritized when we discuss how they intersect with work and labor. It puts all B2F scholars in vulnerable positions to have our work unprotected.”

Despite the administration’s commitment to fighting the basic rights of B2F scholars, we at UICUF are excited to welcome the first cohort of B2Fs to the tenure track this fall and to welcome the rest into official membership in the non-tenure track bargaining unit once the labor board meets. The victory is important not only to the people who constitute the Bridge to Faculty program, but also as a clear message to administration that fair treatment and respect for Black and Brown scholars must be a part of their efforts to diversify UIC faculty.

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20 May UICUF Contract Negotiation: Bargaining Update 

  • UIC UF Bargaining team met with UIC admin for 3rd session: UICUF presented 5 articles for discussion
  • Get to know your contract: Article X of our faculty contract discusses processes in matters of faculty Academic Freedom.

Bargaining Updates
The UIC UF Bargaining Team met with the Administration team yesterday. We presented proposals developing Article IV. Non-Discrimination; Article XV. Discipline and Dismissal; Article XVI. Labor Management Meetings; Article XVII. Access to Personnel File; and Article XVIII. Grievance and Arbitration. Administration is expected to respond to our proposals at our next meeting in approximately 3 weeks.

Contract bargaining is currently taking place on Zoom, but we do hope to meet for in-person sessions soon. Union members are invited to observe sessions and collaborate with the bargaining team during caucuses. You can find out about upcoming sessions and other union events by following the UICUF calendar here or emailing UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

Get To Know Your Contract
UIC UF Faculty Contract (2018-2022)

Article X, Academic Freedom

  1. It is the policy of the University to maintain and encourage full freedom within the law of inquiry, discourse, teaching, research, and publication and to protect any member of the (tenure/non-tenure) track system bargaining unit against influences, from within or without the University, which would restrict the member’s exercise of these freedoms in the member’s area of scholarly research and interest. 
  2. As a citizen, a faculty member may exercise the same freedoms as other citizens without institutional censorship or discipline. A faculty member should be mindful, however, that accuracy, forthrightness, and dignity befit association with the University and a person of learning, and that the public may judge that person’s profession and the University by the individual’s conduct and utterances.
  3. A faculty member who believes that they do not enjoy the academic freedom which is the policy of the University to maintain and encourage shall be entitled to a hearing on written request before the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure of the campus Senate.  Such hearing shall be conducted in accordance with established rules of procedure.  The Committee shall make findings of facts and recommendations to the President and, at its discretion, may make an appropriate report to the Senate.  The several committees may from time to time establish their own rules of procedure.
  4. Any substantive dispute under this Article shall be resolved under Article X, Section 2 (d), of the University of Illinois Statutes
  5. Any procedural dispute under this Article under the control of a party to this Agreement shall be resolved under the Grievance and Arbitration procedure in this Agreement, and any such grievance decision thereunder shall be limited to providing a remedy correcting a process error.

Our union contract does not debate what constitutes a violation of academic freedom–that matter is handled by University Policy, U of I System Statutes, and most directly, the UIC Senate. Instead, this article makes clear that faculty do have academic freedom in matters of scholarship and teaching.

In cases where faculty feel their academic freedoms have been violated, members should immediately contact their union representative or email UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com, for advice and support in submitting a written request to the UIC Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure.

Our proposals for this article intend to make violations in the handling of academic freedom cases–such as discipline occurring prior to a UIC Senate hearing–fully contestable and grievable. While university policies exist, we have observed a wide range of administrative responses that are not consistent with those policies. Currently, bargaining unit members have no recourse when university policies are not followed. Therefore, we are pushing to include the language of those policies, including the UIC Student Academic Grievance Policy in Article X, in order to make the failure to follow policy fully grievable through the Union. So far, the administration’s bargaining team has refused to acknowledge the importance of holding UIC accountable to its own policies in this way.

In Solidarity,

The UIC UF Bargaining team

Xochitl Bada (Associate Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies) Aaron Krall (Senior Lecturer, English) Andy Baker (Clinical Assistant Professor, Music) Anna Kornbluh (Professor, English) Becky Bonarek (Lecturer, Tutorium in Intensive English) Charitianne Williams (Senior Lecturer, English) Gosia Fidelis (Associate Professor, History)  Ian Collins (Clinical Assistant Professor, Daley Library) Jim Drown (Senior Lecturer, English) Jeff Gore (Senior Lecturer, English)  Jennifer Rupert (Senior Lecturer, English, Gender and Women’s Studies) Kate Floros (Clinical Assistant Professor, Political Science) Kate Lowe (Associate Professor, Urban Planning and Policy) Kevin O’Brien (Clinical Associate Professor, Library of the Health Sciences) Kevin Whyte (Professor, Math, Statistics, and Computer Science) Laurie Quinn (Clinical Professor, Biobehavioral Nursing Science) | Paul Preissner (Professor, Architecture)

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06 May Bargaining for New Faculty Contract Begins

UICUF Bargaining: Get to Know Your Contract

  • Bargaining is in full swing: UICUF and Administration TA 7 articles.
  • Get to know your contract: Article I of our faculty contract outlines scope and purpose.
  • Only members of UICUF vote to ratify the faculty contract: Join the union to make your voice heard.

Join UIC United Faculty 
We would like to notify all UIC faculty that bargaining for the next faculty contract has begun. Continued updates concerning bargaining will be sent to UIC UF members only–you can join today and take part in this important process. Membership in the faculty union allows you to attend bargaining sessions, share input with the Bargaining Committee, and ultimately vote on whether to accept the contract they bargain. You may sign up here, or contact us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

Bargaining for our next faculty contract
The UICUF and UIC administrative bargaining teams met for the second time this week. The beginning of the season is often uncontroversial as both sides work to determine a process for moving forward and describe their goals for the next contract. As outlined in our bargaining platform available on the UICUF website, our proposals emphasize:

  •  Support & Security for Faculty
  • Accountability & Care in the Workplace,
  • Amplifying Faculty Voice in Shared Governance 

One important item accomplished at this past meeting was reaching Tentative Agreements on 7 articles. Tentative Agreements (TA) are a mechanism in the process where both sides agree to accept the article under discussion. Discussion on that article is then assumed to be closed, and generally can’t be reopened. 

Bargaining is currently taking place on Zoom, but we do hope to meet for in-person sessions soon. Union members are invited to observe sessions and collaborate with the bargaining team during caucuses. You can find out about upcoming sessions and other union events by following the UICUF calendar here.  

Get to Know Your Contract
We would like to focus our communications this summer bargaining season on UIC faculty workplace rights as outlined in our contract and discuss changes to the current contract your bargaining team is proposing. To this end, there is nowhere like the beginning for a place to start. Article I, Purpose is one of the articles TA’d this week:

UIC UF Faculty Contract (2018-2022)
Article I. Purpose
The purpose and intent of this Agreement is to provide for an orderly collective bargaining relationship and the promotion of sound and mutually beneficial relations between the Union, on behalf of bargaining unit employees, and the University.  This Agreement is intended to establish and make clear the wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment of bargaining unit employees and to provide a procedure for the equitable resolution of grievances as required by terms of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act.

While this text could be considered boilerplate, it is a legitimate articulation of what our union contract is to accomplish. The contract represents an agreement between the membership and the administration, but also a plan for all members of the UIC community to handle workplace scenarios in a fair, transparent, and consistent manner. Contracts are certainly a protection for faculty, but ours also provides protocols and guidance for how workplace disagreements should be handled by supervisors and upper-level administrators.

Our contract connects us with a larger system of justice and protection, explicitly the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, which recognizes the unique situation of education workers and the impact their working conditions have upon the Illinois public. In Fall 2021, 81% of UIC’s 34,199 students were permanent residents of Illinois–our working conditions are their learning conditions, which makes our contract an important part of maintaining the intellectual, cultural, and economic future of Illinois. 

In Solidarity,

The UIC UF bargaining team

Xochitl Bada (Associate Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies) | Aaron Krall (Senior Lecturer, English) | Andy Baker (Clinical Assistant Professor, Music) | Anna Kornbluh (Professor, English) | Becky Bonarek (Lecturer, Tutorium in Intensive English) | Charitianne Williams (Senior Lecturer, English) | Gosia Fidelis (Associate Professor, History)  | Ian Collins (Clinical Assistant Professor, Daley Library) | Jim Drown (Senior Lecturer, English) | Jeff Gore (Senior Lecturer, English)  | Jennifer Rupert (Senior Lecturer, English, Gender and Women’s Studies) | Kate Floros (Clinical Assistant Professor, Political Science) | Kate Lowe (Associate Professor, Urban Planning and Policy) | Kevin O’Brien (Clinical Associate Professor, Library of the Health Sciences) | Kevin Whyte (Professor, Math, Statistics, and Computer Science) | Laurie Quinn (Clinical Professor, Biobehavioral Nursing Science) | Paul Preissner (Professor, Architecture)

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26 Apr GEO Wins Tentative Agreement | Celebrate Janet Smith this Friday

  • GEO settles contract, suspends strike: grad workers won protections for survivors, increased wages, and fee waivers, among other important victories. 
  • Rally to memorialize Janet Smith, Friday at 12pm: Join us to celebrate Janet’s memory and rally to continue her fight for worker power at UIC and beyond. 
  • Action to save the quad, Thursday at 12pm: Join UIC undergraduates and the cultural centers in an action to save the quad as a space for protest and gathering.

Dear Colleagues,

At midnight last night, GEO and the UIC administration bargaining team reached a tentative agreement on the remaining articles of the GEO contract. GEO has suspended their strike and will hold a ratification vote later this week. In addition to increased protections for workers experiencing harassment, discrimination, and bullying, GEO won a 9.6% pay increase for the coming academic year and 3.75% and 3.25% increases in the following two years. All striking workers will have the opportunity to make up their missed work for full pay, and everyone currently in the bargaining unit will receive a lump sum retroactive payment of $1,000 for each of the past two semesters. See GEO’s wins summary for more details. 

We greatly appreciate all the solidarity that faculty have shown during the strike. Your contributions undoubtedly helped push the university administration toward a fairer contract. 

We will continue this spirit of solidarity by celebrating Janet Smith’s life and legacy this Friday at noon outside University Hall. Colleagues and comrades will speak to Janet’s enormous impact on UICUF, UIC, and the labor movement in Chicago. We will also present the inaugural Janet Smith Organizing Award to Gayatri Reddy (GWS, GLAS, Anthropology) and two years’ worth of John Shuler Shared Governance and Academic Freedom Awards to Philosophy and Global Asian Studies. We’ll conclude by introducing the 2022-24 UICUF leadership and sending the bargaining team into the summer with some rallying chants. After all, we couldn’t properly honor Janet’s memory without bringing some fighting, chanting spirit.  

Janet thought and cared a lot about physical spaces and how we use them. To honor that, we are asking participants to bring items that evoke Janet: photos, jewelry, buttons, or anything else that brings her to mind. We will have a space set aside to hold these items for the duration of the memorial. We hope to see you all there. 

Another way to honor Janet’s legacy and the history of protest at UIC is to join UIC undergrads and the Cultural Centers in resisting the planned renovation of the quad, which would eliminate it as a gathering space for rallies and other events and make it less accessible for people who need to pass through it. Please join students for an action in the quad this Thursday, 4/28 at noon and write to the Chancellor and Provost to express your support for the students’ concerns. 

Sincerely,

UIC United Faculty Leadership

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20 Apr Bring your class to the pickets! (and other ways to support GEO)

Dear UICUF members, 

As you know, our graduate worker colleagues have been on strike since Monday fighting for adequate pay, an end to fees, and protections for grad workers who are experiencing bullying and harassment. 

The UIC administration has been dragging its feet in negotiations and seems to be trying to punish grad workers for striking rather than trying to end the strike quickly. GEO needs our support in showing them that UIC cannot function as usual when grad workers withhold their labor! Here are a few ways you can be in solidarity with GEO: 

Join the pickets! There’s no way to show solidarity like walking a picket line. Given the choice between teaching on campus and joining the pickets versus teaching remotely, it is better to come to campus. 

Walking a picket line is very educational! Some faculty have given their classes the option of going together to the picket lines rather than meeting remotely or canceling class. Undergraduates who join the picket lines boost the energy of striking grad workers and learn invaluable lessons about power, collective action, and solidarity. 

Join a rally! AFT President Randi Weingarten will be speaking in the quad tomorrow, Thursday 4/21/22 at 10:30am. Keep an eye on GEO’s twitter for announcements of other upcoming actions. 

Send a departmental letter of support! GEO is asking faculty in all academic units to send letters of support to the university administration. Several departments have already done so. The departments of HistoryGLAS, and CLJ have already sent letters that can serve as inspiration for your department.  

Solidarity, 
UIC United Faculty Leadership

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13 Apr GEO Strike Begins Monday, April 18

Dear Colleagues,

The UIC Graduate Employees Organization (GEO), which represents Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants, remains far apart from the University administration on issues of salary, fees, and protections against workplace harassment, assault, and bullying. GEO intends to begin an indefinite strike on Monday, April 18th, 2022, assuming all the issues separating them are not resolved in their last bargaining session on April 14th. This guide describes how faculty can support GEO, as well as the legal rights of striking workers, which must be respected. 

SUPPORTING GEO DURING THE STRIKE
The following activities are both legally permissible and recommended by UIC GEO and UICUF for faculty who wish to support striking graduate workers: 

  • Don’t perform, or hire replacement workers to perform, duties assigned to TAs or GAs.
  • Participate in their letter-writing campaign and forward this request to colleagues and students.
  • Donate to GEO’s strike fund.
  • Join GEO members on picket lines when not working. You can show up at the Quad between 9 am and 4 pm for directions on where you are most needed.
  • Talk to students about why GEO is striking, including fair wages, fee waivers, and protection against harassment, assault, and bullying. 
  • Use a GEO zoom profile image, which you may download here
  • Avoid crossing picket lines between 9 am and 4 pm (locations of the pickets below)
    • Consider alternative forms of teaching (e.g., online/virtual)
    • Move classes to either evening hours, to an off-campus location, or to non-struck buildings, if possible and allowed under your unit’s policy.
    • If you do need to cross the line, join the line first to express your support.

RESPECTING THE LEGAL RIGHTS OF GRAD WORKERS DURING THE STRIKE 
Union membership, organizing in the workplace, and taking part in a strike are all legally protected activities. Broadly, participation in these activities cannot be punished, interfered with, restrained, or discouraged by an employer. We recommend that faculty be especially mindful of the following legal protections for striking grad workers:

  • It is a violation of the UICUF collective bargaining agreement with the University for faculty covered by that agreement to be asked to perform any duties of striking graduate workers.
  • It is unlawful to fire, discipline, or retaliate against grad workers for participating in a strike or union activity. 
  • It is unlawful to ask grad workers to inform anyone in advance of participating in a strike or union activity. 
  • It is unlawful to record or threaten to record the names of grad workers participating in a strike or union activity.
  • It is unlawful to discriminate against, restrain, or coerce grad workers regarding union membership or activity.  

In some University communications to faculty, it has been suggested that faculty and heads/chairs may choose to cover graduate student duties such as grading or covering labs/discussions on a case-by-case basis. However, the UICUF contract protects faculty from being required to cover the duties of striking workers. If you are asked to do so, please inform union leadership at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com

FAQs
For additional information, please refer to our FAQ document and/or contact us at uicunitedfaculty@gmail.com

PICKETING LOCATIONS

  • University Hall (UH)
  • Lecture Centers A, B, C, D, E, and F
  • Grant, Douglas, Lincoln, Taft, Burnham, Adams, and Stevenson Halls (GH, DH, LH, TH, BH, AH, SH)
  • Science and Engineering Labs (SEL)

As fellow union members, we thank you in advance for respecting the rights of organized graduate employees during any upcoming labor actions, and encourage you to lend your support outside the classroom as you are able.

If you have any questions or wish to share information you are receiving from the University administration, please email UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

Solidarity,

UIC United Faculty Leadership

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