Contracts: Our contracts are signed and effective as of the beginning of this academic year. If you have questions about how the new language on salary increases, professional development funds, modified teaching duties, computer replacement program, minimum salary, multi-year contracts, or promotions, ask your college representative. A list of reps can be found on our website. We will also be including a publication early in the spring that highlights some of the contract language.
We continue to meet with the administration to work out issues of implementation. As I have said, Chancellor Amiridis was very helpful in ensuring that we settled in these uncertain budgetary times. I feel that our union has transitioned from the constant contretemps with the campus administration that marked our infancy to a new period as a powerful and credible voice on campus. Nevertheless, we have to maintain our focus as a union that values organizing and social justice because there are still forces in the State and University Administration who want to decrease higher-ed funding, limit opportunities for our students, and erode our role as partners in the shared governance of this university.
CMER Raises: While the university has not yet announced a university wide salary increase program for all employees, the raises we bargained for Compression, Market, Equity, and Retention (CMER) will be implemented next semester. It is not clear to us that the University will give raises this year to non-unionized faculty and academic professionals in Chicago, Urbana or Springfield, but we are continuing to monitor the situation. If the university announces a salary program for all employees, we will receive that increase in addition to the CMER raise.
We are hearing that CMER raises will be calculated in January and entered in to salary planner in February. The new salary amount will be reflected in the March 15, 2015 payroll. Any retroactive monies owed will be paid on the April 15, 2015 payroll. At the end of the academic year, we will work with the Administration to ensure they distributed the CMER funds appropriately.
Healthcare: As you probably know, our healthcare is administered by the State’s Department of Central Management Services (CMS). Although over 350,000 Illinoisans are covered by the CMS plans, Governor Rauner bargains with AFSCME—the union representing state employees—about healthcare levels and costs. AFSMCE tells us that he is seeking $700 million in healthcare savings through employee give-backs and cost increases. We know that CMS will not make any changes this fiscal year, but they are looking at the possibility of changes beginning July 1, 2016. AFSCME calculates that the changes that the Governor is proposing would cost the average worker $3,100 through increased premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. UICUF takes this issue very seriously. We were not legally able to bargain changes to our healthcare because the State Employees Group Insurance Act of 1977 prevents it, but we are working with the Senate and Administration to present a united front on this issue to the Governor. UICUF is also in communication with AFSCME to support them in their fight with the Governor. They recently held a very well attended Rally in Chicago that our leadership attended. We will be sure to update you as we receive new information about possible healthcare changes.
University Budget: Our union examined the state budget crisis at it affects the U of I and has this to report: The U of I System is owed more than $460 million by the state which cannot be reimbursed because there is no budget. $31 million of those funds are for MAP grand funding for 15,000 students in the U of I system. UIC students make up more than half of all MAP recipients in the U of I system. We also found that the U of I is spending upwards of $75 million per month in reserves to make payroll and pay day-to-day expenses. We calculate that the university holds approximately $2 billion total in reserves, so while the 4% monthly withdraw is not immediately painful, it is certainly unsustainable. Other public universities in Illinois are in much worse shape. Western Illinois has announced the layoffs of 50 faculty. Eastern Illinois is looking at shutting down in the spring semester. SIU has not filled faculty vacancies to the tune of $13.5 million, leading to larger class sizes. Chicago State’s president said he is looking at personnel cuts for next semester. Our union supports House Bill 4156, which will restore higher-ed funding. It is currently on second reading in the house. The Bill is sponsored by Representative Kelly Burke, but has 61 co-sponsors.
Thank you, have a great winter break. We will hold an all-member meeting in the spring, but in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me or any of the other officers or reps with questions or concerns.
Janet Smith, UICUF President