Author: Tony Floriani

14 Oct Rep Assembly Recap, Mutual Aid, & Contact Tracing Committee

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  • Union Members on Contact Tracing Committee: We are pleased to report that the administration has reached out to solicit union participation on a committee on contact tracing, to which we will send two delegates. This is a key point on campus safety, and we look forward to joining this important work.
  • Mutual Aid Fund: UICUF began a mutual aid fund last year for members in financial need. The fund raised $15k and distributed more than $12k in aid to members not reappointed during the pandemic. The fund has now been overhauled to aid any member suffering financial hardship. Members in need can email us to apply for support.
  • Rep Assembly Recap: Our Rep Assembly discussed the ongoing importance of new member outreach, and also unanimously resolved that the union will support faculty rights to determine the modes in which they teach, be it in person, remote, synchronous, asynchronous, etc.

 

Dear Colleagues,

 

At this time we’re pleased to say that the UIC Administration has reached out to us to participate in a committee on contact tracing. This marks a refreshing shift from last year, when members were forced to petition and saturate then-Provost Poser’s office with inquiries to get a union member onto the newly formed COVID taskforce. Issues of campus health and safety are not only of great interest to our members, but are also directly in line with a core role of any union: to protect our members from unnecessary risk and harm. We will be sending two delegates to this new group.

 

Mutual Aid Fund
Last year, amidst the great uncertainty of the pandemic going into the summer, UIC United Faculty formed a mutual aid fund for our members. This decision was made to address concerns that some members, if not swiftly renewed before their appointments ended in May (a bureaucratic quirk of some visiting contracts), would lose their health insurance during the worst health crisis in recent history. In addition to UICUF getting the university to extend coverage for some individuals, the Mutual Aid fund raised $15,484, and distributed $12,100, principally to members who had not been renewed, and were concerned about being able to cover basic needs like health insurance.

 

Just last week, the Mutual Aid Fund was given a new mandate, to maintain a fund that can be made available to any member experiencing serious financial hardship, to pay for basic needs like rent, groceries, utilities, and so on. While these cases are rare, the pandemic has proven that the need is very real. If you are a member suffering a personal financial crisis, you can review our criteria for aid, and email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com to apply for consideration.

 

Rep Assembly
Last week our Representative Assembly met and discussed key issues important to our union membership. New member outreach continues to be our top priority for the moment, and we are always interested in working with current members to reach out to colleagues in your departments. If you want to help, union staffers are ready and able to work with you to identify potential members, and approach them about joining the union. Union membership and active member participation are the most important tools at our disposal when we approach the bargaining table this coming spring semester, so please let us know if you are able to help!

 

The Assembly also voted unanimously on a resolution on the rights of faculty to determine modes of teaching:

 

“Faculty alone–individually, and collectively through shared governance–always have the right to determine modes of teaching, including in the context of the COVID-19 epidemic. Specifically, questions regarding teaching in person or online, or teaching synchronously or asynchronously, or teaching in a hyflex or hybrid mode, belong to the faculty alone to determine. Faculty of course need to accommodate individual students who present formal accommodation letters from the Disability Resource Center. Furthermore, faculty may have their own needs for accommodation, including needs not currently recognized by university policy, such as minimizing public contacts because of being caretakers for vulnerable people in their households.”

 

Though we understand the desire on the part of the university administration to move more classes in-person in the spring, we continue to believe that course delivery is an aspect of academic freedom that must be honored, and we will support faculty exercising these rights individually and through shared governance.

 

Solidarity,
UIC United Faculty

 

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We hold a regular office hour from 12-1pm Wednesday each week. Use the following link to add it to your calendar:

Wednesday 12-1pm

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!

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08 Oct Representative Assembly Meeting Friday

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  • Rep Assembly Meeting Friday: Our Rep Assembly will meet remotely, Friday, 10/8, 12-1:30pm. All members welcome! (Members will receive a link by email)
  • Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness: The federal government is offering limited-time waivers to submit loan repayments previously not qualified for the program. We encourage members with loans to learn more via the official government website.

 

Dear Colleagues,

 

As a final reminder, we will be holding our fall Representative Assembly meeting, Friday, October 8, from 12-1:30pm. The meeting will be held remotely for our members’ convenience and safety, and all members should have already received a link via email. All members are invited to attend and get to know our representatives and how our internal representative processes work.

 

We anticipate discussing issues related to in-person instruction now and in spring semester, membership growth, contract bargaining preparedness for the spring, current member advocacy efforts, and the formation of an Elections Committee for next year’s officer elections at the end of Spring Semester.

 

If you’d like to know who represents your college or unit, or want to get in touch with your representative, you can find a listing of all our officers, representatives, and staff, on our website.

 

Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness

While this won’t affect everyone, we know that many of our members have student loans, and working at a public institution like UIC may help you qualify for loan forgiveness. This program has been deeply fraught, and only a tiny fraction of loan forgiveness applicants have actually had their loans forgiven.

 

The U.S. Department of Education has announced, however, that for a limited time they will be waiving many of the confusing criteria that have disqualified applicants thus far. In particular, payments made under any repayment plan will be considered to count toward the total required 120 payments, so long as they occurred while you were working full-time (or a combined 30 hours/week) for a public, or qualifying non-profit employer.

 

UIC UF staff are currently looking for resources to support people interested in making use of the loosened restrictions for loan forgiveness, so anyone needing assistance should reach out to us at our general email address.

 

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We hold a regular office hour from 12-1pm Wednesday each week. Use the following link to add it to your calendar:

Wednesday 12-1pm

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!

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01 Oct Representation in Our Union and at UIC

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  • Elected Representatives: Every 2 years, our members elect colleagues to act as union stewards and sit on our Representative Assembly to discuss and vote on key union issues. Find out who your union representative(s) are on our website.
  • Rep Assembly Meeting Open to Members:  Our Rep Assembly will meet via Zoom next week, 12-1:30pm on Fri 10/8. Meetings are open to union members, and we welcome non-members to join and attend!
  • UIC Faculty/Staff Town Hall: We encourage all faculty to submit questions and attend the Chancellor’s Faculty/Staff Town Hall, 1-2:30pm, Wed 10/6.
  • Bargaining Priority Poll Results: You can now view results of our micro-poll on bargaining priorities which went out to our members last week. Pay/benefits were our top-ranked issues, followed by workloads.
  • Micro-Poll on Workloads: We are now running a follow-up poll on workloads, but you must be a member to offer input. We encourage you to join and participate in these opportunities to shape union policy!

Dear Colleagues,

Today we want to remind you of all the ways in which you can make your voice heard, both within our union, and at UIC. Our union is a democratic organization, and we actively encourage our members to participate in union governance, as well as the governance of our university. If you are not a member and want to offer input and/or participate in union policy decisions, you can join now via our online application here:

Join Our Union

Union Representatives
Per the UIC United Faculty Constitution, our members elect a Representative Assembly every two years. These Representatives are both our union stewards who provide support for colleagues in their units, and members who sit on our Representative Assembly, the legislative body that discusses and votes on issues important to the union. We hope you’ll take note of your college-level union representative (see above for link) and reach out if there is anything you wish to discuss. All conversations with a union representative are confidential. You may also direct questions or concerns to our general email, UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com if you prefer.

The next Representative Assembly meeting is coming up next week, on Friday, October 8th, from 12-1:30pm, and will be held virtually via zoom. All members are welcome to attend these meetings, and we encourage non-members to join the union and learn more about how our union democracy functions! We will be discussing, among other things, the next steps toward contract negotiations with our newly formed bargaining committee.

UIC Faculty & Staff Town Hall
Chancellor Amiridis has called a town hall meeting for all UIC faculty and staff, to be held next Wednesday, 1-2:30pm (links will be sent by UIC the day before to all employees). The administration has asked that faculty submit questions online ahead of the event. While UIC United Faculty is not recommending any specific focus for such questions at this time, we highly encourage you to engage in the process, as it is one way that faculty can let the administration know what is of concern to them. We are aware from our own interactions with members that there are lingering concerns, for example, about inconsistency in the contact tracing process, as well as about ongoing issues regarding technology and tech support. We will, of course, attend the event and report on any relevant information to our membership.

Bargaining Priorities Poll Results
Our members had an opportunity to participated in our bargaining priority micro-poll last week, and the results are now in. You can view them via the link shared above. Though this is a non-scientific poll, it does guide our process while we prepare for bargaining, as will future polls and the major bargaining survey we intend to run between now and Thanksgiving Break.

Our respondents collectively identified Pay and Benefits as their top priority. This category includes raise pools, salary minimums, and raises-on-promotion, as well as health and pension benefits. UICUF has had a strong track-record of growing faculty pay over the life of our union and it will be on the agenda for 2022 as well. These past victories include raising minimum salaries from $30k to $50k since our first contract, winning iron-clad 4% raise pools that stood firm through the pandemic even as other institutions offered 0% or clawed back pay rates, and ensuring a 10% raise minimum on promotion.

Workload issues were the runner-up priority. We know that even before the pandemic, unaccountable increases in workloads were a problem in terms of course loads and class sizes. Since COVID and the shift to more remote work and teaching, however, we’ve also seen a rise in work expectations around shifting classes to remote or hybrid models and supporting students with accommodations, and on technological and personal issues. These changes have not fallen evenly on all faculty, but the overall shifts are apparent, so our micro-poll this week will be a follow-up to better understand how workload changes are affecting our members. If you are not a member and wish to participate in our polling and offer other input on bargaining and union policy, we invite you to join the union today!

Join Our Union

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We hold a regular office hour from 12-1pm Wednesday each week. Use the following link to add it to your calendar:
Wednesday 12-1pm

We issue regular updates via email, FacebookTwitterYouTube, 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!

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24 Sep Fall Member Meeting Recap And Tribute to a Fallen Colleague

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  • Member Meeting Recap: We held our Fall Member Meeting this Wednesday, covering back-to-school issues and bargaining, as well as the urgent need to rebuild solidarity and membership as we return to campus and prepare for contract negotiations.
  • Department Contacts: We are actively seeking people to act as Department Contacts, helping the union stay in touch with, and recruit, members in your departments. If you’re able to be a contact in your department, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

  • Bargaining Team: Aaron Krall, Executive Vice President of the union, will reprise his role as co-chair on the bargaining team. We’ve confirmed 8 other team members and will seek representation from all colleges as we start to prepare for negotiations this spring.
  • Tribute to a Fallen Union Colleague: Richard Levy, highly regarded historian and UICUF union member, has passed away. Memorial Service will be in the Cardinal Room of Student Center East, (750 S. Halsted St.) next Wed, 9/29, at 3pm.

Dear Colleagues,

We held a very productive membership meeting this Wednesday, over Zoom out of an abundance of caution and regard for our members’ safety and comfort. The planned social hour was cancelled due to high winds and wet conditions on the lawn southeast of University Hall, but we hope to reschedule it shortly.

Much of the meeting was taken up by discussion about back-to-school issues, especially teaching conditions and contact tracing. While we can’t recreate those conversations here, we have written extensively on these topics in past weekly messages, which you can find in our website news feed. It remains the union’s position that members should get vaccinated and comply with university disclosure policies by the October 1 deadline to avoid disciplinary action. We also encourage faculty to comply with contact tracing requests and have been working with admin to report concerns about the process. Finally, it is still the union’s position that course delivery methods fall within the bounds of academic freedom, as long as they take into account appropriate safety guidelines.

Focus on Membership and Solidarity
Though we’ve worked hard to keep lines of communication open with our members throughout the pandemic, it is undeniable that the isolation of COVID has made it harder to organize. With a return to in-person work for many this semester, and a new round of contract negotiations coming in the spring, it is critical that we rebuild our networks and reach out to new faculty.

We rely on members like you to help us with this work. That is why we are asking you to consider becoming a Department Contact, a role that helps us stay in touch with our members in your academic unit, and identify new faculty to speak with about membership. If you are able to devote even a small amount of time to supporting this vital task of building connections between members and the union at large, we strongly encourage you to email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com to get involved.

Bargaining
Our new bargaining team is currently being assembled, and we now have a robust team from a variety of disciplines, representing most of the Colleges in our bargaining unit. The team will begin meeting shortly, and we anticipate starting the process with a full bargaining survey in late October-early November. You must be a member to take the bargaining survey. As ever, if you have questions or concerns not addressed here, you can always reach us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

Solidarity
UIC United Faculty


Comrade Levy On Strike February 2014 Richard Levy, highly regarded historian and UICUF union member, pictured bottom right, has passed away. Memorial Service will be in the Cardinal Room of Student Center East, (750 S. Halsted St.) next Wednesday, September 29th, at 3:00 p.m.

Tribute to a Fallen Union Member, Richard Levy
By Robert Johnston, UICUF Chief Steward

We unfortunately must tell you that one of our dedicated comrades has fallen. Richard Levy, who taught in the History department for 49 years, and who only recently retired at the age of 80, died this summer.  It was an immensely sad moment for the department, because Richard was such a lively, committed, and truly funny presence.

Richard was one of the world’s major historians of antisemitism, and he was also a totally dedicated union member.  He threw his whole professional self into UIC, and he recognized that the union fought not just for better wages for faculty, but for a better institution for our students.

A few years into his seventies, Richard proudly went out on strike with us in 2014.  Indeed, he proudly had this picture on his office door in University Hall until his death.  Richard is the one on the right, holding high the banner of Lenin, Engels, and Marx.

We will miss him hugely.  But don’t mourn, organize!

Richard will have a UIC memorial service in the Cardinal Room of Student Center East, (750 S. Halsted St.) next Wednesday, September 29th, at 3:00 p.m.  All are welcome.

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We hold a regular office hour from 12-1pm Wednesday each week. Use the following link to add it to your calendar:

Wednesday 12-1pm

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!

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17 Sep  Getting Involved with Your Union PT2 – Volunteers Needed!

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  • Our Union is Run by Faculty Like You: We have a variety of roles, committees, and working groups open to new participants. Members are at the core of all our efforts, so tell us via the link at the bottom of this email if you’re interested in more information!
  • Membership Meeting: Our Fall Member Meeting will be on September 22nd, 3-4:30pm, via Zoom (you must be a member to attend). There will also be a social hour afterwards at 4:45pm with snacks and drinks on the lawn southeast of University Hall.
  • Oct 1 Vaccine Deadline: UICUF continues to encourage all members to get vaccinated and disclose your status to the university for everyone’s safety. As a reminder, October 1 is the deadline to be vaccinated or secure an exemption to work on campus.

 

Dear Colleagues,

UIC United Faculty is run for and by our members, faculty like you, who volunteer in critical roles that keep our union strong and responsive to member needs. We want to remind everyone that union committees, working groups, and individual volunteers are working on your behalf throughout the year, and that means there are many ways for interested members to get involved. Here is a short list of ways you can join in and help make UIC an even better, safer place to work and learn:

Department Contacts: We always need union points-of-contact in each department, who are able to help us keep an ear to the ground on local issues, share important union initiatives with members (like our upcoming pre-bargaining survey), and help us recruit non-members into the union.

Communications and Social Media Gurus: We have several web and social media outlets, including our Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Slack, and we can always use help from digital media gurus to keep these sites updated and engaging to member and community interest.

Mutual Aid/FAST Fund: We have begun developing mutual aid resources, both for our members via a Mutual Aid Fund, and our students via the Faculty and Students Together (FAST) Fund. If you’re interested in mutual aid work administered through our union, this is the place for you.

Committee on Political Education (COPE): Member dues never pay for political campaigns. We know, however, just how important political engagement is to our members, and we have created an independent group and fund to support policies and candidates that support public higher education. You can contribute to the COPE fund here (starting at $1 a month) and you must be a contributor to be a voting committee member.

Shared Governance and Academic Freedom Committee: This committee advises our leadership on issues involving shared governance and academic freedom, and chooses the annual winner of the John Shuler Award, which goes to the department that exemplifies the greatest progress in these critical areas of academic life.

Bargaining Committee: We will be forming our Bargaining Committee after the member meeting next week, with a charge to prepare for contract negotiations in the spring. We not only need members willing to sit at the table with management, but also those who can do deep research on contract provisions as we prepare our proposals.

Please answer this 2-question poll telling us which roles you’d like more information on and a non-work email we can get back to you at.

 

Solidarity,
UIC United Faculty

***

We hold a regular office hour from 12-1pm Wednesday each week. Use the following link to add it to your calendar:

Wednesday 12-1pm

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!

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09 Sep Getting Involved with Your Union – Membership Matters

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  • Active Membership: Our union is run by faculty just like you! Active membership makes it possible for us to have an effective and independent union, including supporting a local office and our own staff, all with union members leading the way.
  • Being Part of the Process: One major perk of membership is being able to participate as we plan for contract bargaining next spring. This will be the main subject of our Fall Member Meeting at 3pm, 9/22, via Zoom, but you need to be a member to attend.
  • Joining the Union: Faculty can join the union any time via our website to get involved. If you have questions, you can email us at UICUnitedfaculty@gmail.com or speak with one of our representatives on campus.
  • Tabling On Campus: We’ll be tabling at UH next Monday the 13th, from 11-1pm so drop by if you would like to join in person, or speak to a knowledgeable member representative or professional union staff.

Dear Colleagues,

 

UIC United Faculty couldn’t exist without the work and support of faculty like you. Now that we’ve all had a chance to settle into the new semester, we want to remind you of the importance of being an active union member. Active membership allows us to run our union the way we want, with a local office off of Halstead and Van Buren and a professional local staff, led directly by elected faculty members. Membership is, of course, also the most important leverage we have in contract negotiations, the next round of which begins this coming spring. In our last contract, we were able to secure iron-clad annual 4% raise pools, which the university honored even as faculty around the country got financially squeezed by the pandemic. That was only possible because we have an large and active membership.

 

You can join the union any time via our website, and a staff person will contact you ASAP to verify your membership.

 

Fall Member Meeting 

Our Fall Member meeting is coming up at 3pm on 9/22, and we will be discussing any lingering back-to-school issues, as well as bargaining priorities. One essential perk of being a union member is access to our member meetings and participation in our bargaining surveys, which allow you to be a part of the process and give input on what is needed in the upcoming negotiations.

 

Tabling on Campus

We will be tabling on campus at various locations this fall to connect with members about timely issues and talk to new faculty about membership. This is a great opportunity to meet with faculty members of the union, and talk with professional union staffers about membership. We will be at University Hall on Monday, 9/13, from 11-1pm, and will continue to visit new locations each week. If you’re not able to be there, but want to speak to a union representative, don’t hesitate to reach out at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

 

Solidarity

UIC United Faculty

 

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We hold regular office hours from 12-1pm Wednesday and Thursday each week. Use the following links to add them to your calendar:
Wednesday 12-1pm | Thursday 12-1pm

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!

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02 Sep UICUF Position on Contact Tracing

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  • Contact Tracing Plans: In an announcement last week, UIC described contact tracing plans and encouraged faculty with classes over 30 students to use seating charts to facilitate the process. We are pleased to say that Admin did consult with us prior to publishing this policy.
  • Contact Tracing Team: UIC has created a tracing team that will do most of the heavy lifting should someone report a COVID positive test. You can disclose a positive test with UIC’s online reporting tool. The team will respond with mitigation plans, possibly including isolation, and will gather info to learn who else might be exposed. Confidentiality will be a priority in the team’s work.
  • Faculty Responsibilities: Faculty are encouraged to maintain seating charts for classes over 30 students. If exposure in your classroom occurs, the tracing team, not the faculty member, should be responsible for follow up with students. If you have questions or feel the policy is not being applied correctly, message us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

 

Dear Colleagues,

This is the fifth installment in our series of policy positions on critical elements of UIC’s fall reopening plans. We have already covered remote/alternate work accommodationsmasking and distancing policiesacademic freedom and IP rights, and ventilation in prior communications. With each of these policy statements, we aim to share and clarify existing university policies as they stand today, describe the union’s stance relative to these policies, and offer direct guidance to faculty for navigating day-to-day with regard to these policies. Today we are discussing contact tracing.

Current Policy: Per a UIC announcement last week and again this week, those testing positive for COVID-19 are advised to disclose to university contact tracers using the online reporting tool. UIC’s contact tracing staff will be in touch with anyone who receives a positive saliva test or submits a positive test result within 24-48 hours of their result or submission of their results online, respectively. Contact tracing staff will then provide regular follow-up during a person’s isolation period. UIC contact tracing staff will then inform these individuals when it is acceptable for them to leave isolation. You can read the current protocol for people who are to isolate or quarantine here.

Contact tracing staff will also ask for a list of persons who may have been exposed to infected individuals. If an individual receives a positive test result, it is important that they compile a list of persons with whom they have been in close contact so UIC contact tracing can reach out by phone to any UIC employee or student who may have been exposed. Every effort will be made to keep the name of the infected individual confidential. Persons with significant exposures to the infected individual will be asked to quarantine. Full details of current policy are here.

Provost Reyes invited UICUF leadership to discuss his plans for asking (not requiring) faculty to maintain seating charts in classes with more than 30 students that would aid contact tracing staff in identifying selected individuals in a class of a possible risk, rather than having to inform an entire classroom. Note that for classes with 30 or fewer students, all students will be contacted if someone in it tests positive. We were heartened by Provost Reyes’s reaching out for such consultation and are eager to develop this collegial relationship.

In the meantime, we have heard from faculty who have been asked by contact tracing staff to email all students in their class to let them know a student had a positive test and that some–but not all–students had been contacted by UIC for tracing due to possible exposure. Another faculty member was told by contract tracing staff to photograph each class session to aid in identifying people should someone else test positive. Neither of these actions — sending email or photographing classrooms — was discussed in our meeting with Provost Reyes, and is not in the information shared with faculty 8/27/21 or 8/30/21. We have followed up to raise the concern that faculty should not have these responsibilities.
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UICUF Position: UICUF supports campus testing and contact tracing as important elements of limiting the spread of covid-19 and allowing us to continue with on-campus instruction. We are looking forward to hearing from the UIC administration on the full protocol for anyone affected — faculty, students and staff — for assuring all are safe and healthy if a positive case is reported, and to seeing consistent implementation of the protocol. Faculty should not be left in the position of informing students of their possible exposure, nor should they be left to advise students about what they ought to do when they learn of possible exposure to covid-19. All such communication ought to come from the university’s professional contact tracers.

Guidance to Faculty: UICUF stands ready to assist and advocate for you should you have questions about contact tracing policy, or if you encounter anything that places inappropriate burdens on you.  We have already learned a great deal about the complexities and difficulties of complying with current policies and practices from members’ messages and inquiries. Our goal is to bring these back to the administration so we can help make things work better for all involved. Please continue to let us know, as frequently as necessary, about your concerns.

Solidarity
UIC United Faculty

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25 Aug Back-to-School: Our Union is Here to Help

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  • Welcome Back: UICUF wants to welcome everyone back to school. With many of us returning to in-person work for the first time in over a year, we know that we’ll face many challenges, but having a union means we can face them together.
  • Union On Your Side: As we navigate a new landscape of safety and teaching norms, we want to remind you that union staff and representatives are always available to offer individual support when needed. You can always contact your college rep directly, or email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com with any questions or concerns.
  • A Reminder About Your Rights: As public employees represented by a union, we all enjoy certain rights, including the rights in our contracts, statutes, bylaws, and state and federal laws, and your Weingarten Rights to union representation in discipline hearings.
  • Save The Date For Our Membership Meeting: We have set our member meeting for September 22nd, 3pm, location TBD. We hold member meetings each semester, and this one will be particularly important in identifying issues for bargaining next year.

 

Dear Colleagues,

It’s the start of a new academic year, and we want to extend a warm welcome to all our new and returning faculty! Of course, we must also acknowledge that the new year brings new challenges, with faculty and students returning to classrooms after over a year of predominantly remote work. We want to especially remind all of you that with our union behind us, we do not have to face these challenges alone. Whether they be large campus-spanning issues, or individual concerns about anything from safety to teaching, to workloads and discipline, we hope every faculty member can take some peace of mind in knowing that you have someone on your side.

Our union has both elected faculty representatives in each college, and trained professional staff who can be called on to assist you with questions or workplace issues. We are also working diligently to keep our members informed about policy changes and your rights and responsibilities in a time when conditions continue to evolve rapidly. If you missed our recent series of reopening policy positions, or any past messages, you can find them here.

We also want to remind everyone that regardless of pandemic conditions, all faculty do enjoy clear rights, laid out in our union contracts, as well as UI Statutes, your unit bylaws, and state and federal laws. In particular, as a union member, you have Weingarten Rights, meaning you have a right to union representation in disciplinary meetings or hearings. If you are in a situation that is disciplinary in nature, or that you believe may lead to disciplinary actions, you can assert this right and have the meeting scheduled at a time when your union representative can be present. If you do invoke this right, you should of course notify UICUF immediately so that representation can be arranged.

Lastly, please SAVE THE DATE for our Fall Membership Meeting, scheduled for September 22nd, at 3pm. All active union members are welcome to join, and non-members can join at the door. Of particular importance, this meeting will set the stage for our bargaining preparations as we ramp up to a new round of negotiations on our contract next year. At this point, we have not determined if this meeting will be in person, but we will make every effort to accommodate remote access regardless of venue.

Solidarity
UIC United Faculty

***

We hold regular office hours from 12-1pm Wednesday and Thursday each week. Use the following links to add them to your calendar:
Wednesday 12-1pm | Thursday 12-1pm

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!

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20 Aug UICUF Position on Ventilation

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  • Ventilation Guidelines: It is the responsibility of employers to provide safe working environments, and the CDC cites proper ventilation as a major facet of COVID safety indoors. UIC has conducted a variety of airflow assessments, and offers the use of HEPA filters for rooms that otherwise experience insufficient air circulation.
  • Requesting HEPA Filters: UICUF encourages faculty to report conditions they feel are unsafe, and to request HEPA filters where appropriate. UICUF will support and advocate for faculty requesting additional measures regarding air filtration.

 

Dear Colleagues,

This is the fourth and final installment in our series of policy positions on critical elements of UIC’s fall reopening plans. We have already covered remote/alternate work accommodations, masking and distancing policies, and academic freedom and IP rights in prior communications. With each of these policy statements, we aim to share and clarify existing university policies as they stand today, describe the union’s stance relative to these policies, and offer direct guidance to faculty for navigating day-to-day with regard to these policies.

Today, we are discussing ventilation and airflow issues that are relevant to COVID safety as we are seeing a surge in Delta variant cases. As before, we strongly believe that the best defense against COVID in all its forms is to get vaccinated ASAP. Vaccination protects not only the individual, but our entire community from the worst effects of the virus. However, appropriate ventilation and airflow is also a major factor in mitigating the spread of COVID, and it is our position that UIC bears a responsibility to address airflow issues wherever they are identified.

Ventilation
Current Policy: The Illinois Board of Higher Education states that “IHEs should continue routine cleaning of high-touch surfaces and shared objects and maintaining improved ventilation in accordance with CDC recommendations.”

The CDC states the following: SARS-CoV-2 viral particles spread between people more readily indoors than outdoors. Indoors, the concentration of viral particles is often higher than outdoors, where even a light wind can rapidly reduce concentrations. When indoors, ventilation mitigation strategies can help reduce viral particle concentration. The lower the concentration, the less likely viral particles can be inhaled into the lungs (potentially lowering the inhaled dose); contact eyes, nose, and mouth; or fall out of the air to accumulate on surfaces. Protective ventilation practices and interventions can reduce the airborne concentrations and reduce the overall viral dose to occupants.

The CDC recommends a “layered approach” that uses different proactive ventilation practices and interventions. This includes using “portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) fan/filtration systems to enhance air cleaning” which UIC has been using in rooms that did not meet American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) ventilation requirements (as of January 2021). Details of the most recent ventilation assessment of 88 UIC buildings can be found here. Note that these assessments do not include offices.

UICUF Position: As per the UIC plans issued prior to the IBHE guidance, which recommends following CDC guidance for “maintaining improved ventilation”, UIC should continue to monitor air ventilation rates and CO2 levels in all classrooms. Special attention should be given to 1) classrooms with high occupancy and usage levels based on number of classes per day, 2) any classroom with no windows or windows that do not open, and 3) all classrooms that did not meet ASHRAE requirements in previous testing (note some classrooms may fall in more than one of these categories). Monitoring should take place during fully allowed occupancy.

Data from monitoring as well as ventilation assessments for all classrooms should be made available in a timely manner via a publicly accessed website.

UIC should provide upon request assessment of air quality in faculty offices and appropriate air filter devices if warranted to meet established requirements.

Guidance to Faculty: Faculty should feel empowered to report to facilities management any concerns about ventilation and airflow, and to request a filtration system where necessary. Below are specific links and information that can be attained per UIC communication to faculty August 19, 2021.

 

Additional Information and Contact Information:

 

We encourage faculty to share any report or request for information you make with the union. UICUF stands ready to assist and advocate for you should your situation not be remedied promptly.

Solidarity
UIC United Faculty

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We hold regular office hours from 12-1pm Wednesday and Thursday each week. Use the following links to add them to your calendar:
Wednesday 12-1pm | Thursday 12-1pm

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!

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18 Aug Position on Academic Freedom and IP Rights

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  • Academic Freedom in Regard to Course Delivery: Per Statutes and the UIC Faculty Handbook, faculty have the right to deliver courses in a manner they deem most appropriate, within certain constraints which should be defined through shared governance.
  • Student Expectations and Accommodations: As communicated to students recently, many classes require in-person attendance and accommodations are not guaranteed. Accommodations should be worked out with students at discretion of faculty. We encourage faculty to work with individual students wherever reasonable, and so long as it does not degrade the learning experience of other students.
  • Recording: Per prior policy announcements, course recording and/or streaming is encouraged by UIC to aid students who may be unable to attend in person, but is NOT required.
  • Intellectual Property: Faculty have a fundamental right to ownership of their intellectual property such as course materials and lectures. Recording, streaming, or using digital tools to deliver course content does NOT diminish this right or transfer rights to the university or any third party.

 

Dear Colleagues,

This is the third installment in our series of policy positions on critical elements of UIC’s fall reopening plans. We have already covered remote/alternate work accommodations, and masking and distancing policies in prior communications. With each of these policy statements, we aim to share and clarify existing university policies as they stand today, describe the union’s stance relative to these policies, and offer direct guidance to faculty for navigating day-to-day with regard to these policies.

Today, we are discussing positions on academic freedom and intellectual property, especially as they intersect with varying course delivery methods, online vs. in-person learning, and class recordings.

Academic Freedom and Ownership of Intellectual Property in Teaching
Current Policy:  The University of Illinois Statutes (Article V, Section 2) articulate the University’s policy on academic freedom. The UIC Faculty Handbook (Section VI) elaborates: “Faculty members are expected to teach their assigned courses in a manner consistent with the scheduled time, course content, and course credit as approved by the faculty (emphasis ours). Within these constraints, they are entitled to freedom in the classroom in developing and discussing—according to their areas of competence—the subjects that they are assigned.”

In an announcement on July 22, 2020, the Provost did ask faculty to consider recording sessions if it might benefit students.  But this was not a mandate, and continues to be optional at the discretion of the individual faculty member.

In addition, the University Administration told students in a communication on July 28, 2021: ​​”Due to the nature of some courses, students should be aware that not all courses can be streamed and/or recorded. Some courses do require in-person participation. If enrolled in a course with a required in-person component, the student should immediately talk to their faculty advisor to determine the best course of action for continuing degree progression. However, for many academic programs, progression may not be possible without attending in person.”

Regarding intellectual property rights on materials developed for online delivery, the university has extended through December 31, 2021, its policy statement granting individual faculty full and exclusive ownership of all online materials developed for their classes. For undetermined reasons, the updated policy is no longer on the UIC website, but we have confirmed its approval by the UIC Senate, and have hosted it on our website for reference. This policy also reiterates the U of I’s General Rules on some circumstances, including when faculty create courses using university resources beyond “those usually and customarily provided,” under which the university may assume licensing rights. What constitutes usual and customary resources is not clear in university statute or the handbook, but generally is understood to go beyond the use of digital delivery methods or classroom management software.

UIC United Faculty Position: Academic freedom and intellectual property rights are bedrock commitments of UICUF. Control of teaching rightly rests with individual professionals in the classroom, and with the faculty collectively via shared governance in determining appropriate curricula for their programs. Ownership of course materials belongs to those who develop those materials as part of their ordinary work commitments. It is the right of each faculty member to decide if they record, stream, or share recordings of their classes.

Regarding intellectual property (IP) rights, it remains UICUF’s position that IP rights for traditionally copyrightable academic work must remain with the faculty member who creates them, in accordance with University General Rules. Exceptions exist, as outlined above (i.e. using university resources beyond “those usually and customarily provided”), however any such transfer of rights MUST be entered into with the full foreknowledge and uncoerced agreement of the faculty member in question. Typically this should be presented as a negotiated work-for-hire agreement describing the specific rights and properties being transferred, and the compensation due to the faculty member for their work.

Guidance to Faculty: The decision to record or stream class sessions for the purpose of sharing with students unable to attend in person is one appropriately made by faculty, individually or through shared governance where appropriate. If you are feeling pressure to record or stream your classes against your better judgment and want support thinking through how to respond, please reach out to UICUF leadership or staff.

Further, recording your class or using online delivery methods does NOT entitle the university to the rights to own or license your intellectual property, whether it be course syllabi, lecture notes, or class recordings. Such rights transfers should only occur with your foreknowledge and consent. If you feel that your intellectual property is being shared or used inappropriately, please contact UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com to get in touch with a union rep ASAP.

Solidarity,
UIC United Faculty

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We hold regular office hours from 12-1pm Wednesday and Thursday each week. Use the following links to add them to your calendar:
Wednesday 12-1pm | Thursday 12-1pm

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!

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