21 Nov UIC Unions Unite!

Faculty, grad students, nurses and service employees rally to show U of I’s Board what UIC Unions United looks like.

Faculty, grad students, nurses and service employees rally to show U of I’s Board what UIC Unions United looks like.

Quiet Strength
Over 100 members from four campus unions joined together in protest at U of I’s Board of Trustees meeting last Thursday. UIC UF, GEO, INA, and SEIU
— representing more than 8,000 UIC workers — all came together in this unprecedented display of solidarity, to demonstrate against Rauner-Era union busting tactics being perpetuated by U of I’s administration.

That union busting mentality has been the rule for many years, but is especially manifest now, in the form of brazen attacks on dues deduction post-Janus, and an equally brazen attitude toward contract negotiations. Much of the institutional rigor directed against U of I system unions can be traced back to a board with a majority of members appointed by a Governor who actively campaigned on his mission to break public sector unions. Fortunately for everyone working for the state of Illinois, Governor Rauner’s days in office are now numbered. UIC’s Unions United, along with allies like recently elected Cook County Commissioner Alma Anaya, want to remind the U of I’s Board of Trustees, and their representatives in university administration, that we will soon have a new, pro-union governor.

Watch the video here: https://www.facebook.com/UICUF/posts/2024817617561689

Payroll Deduction is NOT Optional
Back in July, payroll deductions for the dozens of various unions at UIC were processed as usual, except this time things were different.

The Janus decision had just been released, negating prior requirements to collect fair share fees from non-union members in the bargaining unit while maintaining dues deduction for signed members. Accordingly, unions across the university sprung into action to identify all union members who should be paying dues. We did this in good faith after months of anticipation and seemingly constructive communication between the unions involved and U of I Labor Relations. Make no mistake, U of I was not taken by surprise by the Janus decision, and was given ample opportunity to ensure accurate continuity of dues deduction for signed union members.

So it was a shock, though perhaps not a surprise, to find that on July 15th UIC payroll chose (or was directed) to ignore the member verifications they were being emphatically offered by the university’s unions, and cut payroll deductions in an arbitrary and opaque fashion. Though we can’t speak to the damage done to all unions in the system, the four unions representing Faculty, Grad Employees, Nurses and Service Employees, woke on July 15th to find their member roles light by hundreds of workers and their treasuries short thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in some cases. Let’s be clear, we are talking about signed union members, not fair-share fee payers here.

But dues deduction is not a game. It is not optional. It is not subject to whim or interpretation. It is a right protected by law, and it is the duty of employers to honor that right by executing deductions accurately and faithfully. U of I made a mockery of this responsibility in July, and has compounded their intransigence by refusing to discuss that failure and its implications in a meaningful way ever since.

UIC Unions United was formed initially to respond to this outrageous behavior, and despite attempts to engage administration on these issues, no movement has been seen. Therefore, all four unions have submitted filings of Unfair Labor Practices by U of I’s Board of Trustees and its agents. Grievances pursuant to U of I’s breach of contract in these matters are also ongoing, and will be pursued vigorously by the unions involved.

A Bad Bargain
Above and beyond U of I’s willful malfeasance in regard to dues deduction, our unions have been subject to less-than-collegial attitudes and tactics by administration at the bargaining table. In the most egregious case, the university’s hospital administration has railroaded the Licensed Practical Nurses at UIC and associated clinics with some of the most hostile contract language we have seen in decades.

In response, the LPN’s went on strike last Thursday, and remained on strike until just yesterday, when the hospital system’s CEO agreed to step in and restore balance to the contract negotiations. All university unions are watching these proceedings with interest. We sincerely hope that U of I negotiators will not use similar tactics in the future, because work stoppages are by no means off the table for any of the unions currently bargaining contracts.

Working Towards a Brighter Future
While we can’t expect things to change overnight, the ouster of anti-union political leaders, and the defeat of their agendas for public sector unions, is a cause for hope. However, politicians like Governor Elect JB Pritzker, and their appointees, will need to be held accountable for those hopes to become reality. Moreover, U of I has given little to no sign of changing course on how they treat unions on their own campuses, at least not without a fight. That means that the work goes on, until all of our unions have won fair contracts, and the respect we deserve.

UICUF’s contract negotiations will resume immediately after the Thanksgiving holidays, and we want to encourage everyone who is able, to attend the next bargaining session on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 10am-1pm, at Student Center East, Room 603. It is one excellent way to learn more about how the union works, and what we are facing when we meet with administration face-to-face. Even if you can’t be there, we encourage you to wear your union t-shirts and pins in solidarity with our bargaining team on Tuesday.

*        *        *

Until we win a fair contract, we will be issuing periodic updates via email, facebook, twitter, and here on our website. We strongly encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. With your support, we can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

 WeHeartUIC - Logo

View additional videos, recordings and write-ups of the Board of Trustees action last Thursday:

Silent Protest and Press Conference in Pictures
Union Press Release
Radio Interview – Back on the Beat w/Dick Kay

Read More

15 Nov Press Release: UIC Unions Demand Board End Rauner-Era Union Busting Tactics

Members of 4 UIC Unions rally against Rauner-Era union busting tactics at the Board of Trustees meeting in Chicago.

Members of 4 UIC Unions rally against Rauner-Era union busting tactics at the Board of Trustees meeting in Chicago.


November 15, 2018

Jeff Schuhrke
Media Liaison

UIC Unions United Coalition Protests Labor Law Violations and Demands Fair Contracts

In a powerful display of labor unity, this morning scores of UIC workers from four campus unions gathered at the University of Illinois Board of Trustees meeting to protest the University’s recent labor law violations and to demand fair contracts.

Since the Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision this summer, the University administration has illegally attempted to implement new dues deduction processes, while simultaneously trying to impose second-rate contracts on the Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), faculty, and graduate student workers. Thirty-four LPNs from the UI Hospital began an indefinite strike this morning to protest these unfair labor practices and to demand a fair contract.

Following Bruce Rauner’s overwhelming defeat in last week’s election, the unions are calling on the University Board of Trustees to abandon its Rauner-era anti-union, anti-worker agenda.

Members of the Illinois Nurses Association (INA), SEIU Local 73, UIC United Faculty, and the UIC Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) entered the University Board of Trustees meeting this morning and silently held up signs demanding living wages, more workplace protections, and an end to illegal union busting.

At a press conference immediately after this silent protest, leaders and activists from all four unions spoke.

“Everyone knows that 34 primarily women of color provide some of the most hands-on direct patient care to some of the most impoverished communities in Chicago,” said Ramona Morales of the INA. “However, UIH has decided to show blatant disrespect to us and the communities we serve by demanding we accept a second-class contract with watered-down or non-existent protections.” Morales is an LPN in Outpatient Dialysis, has worked at UI Health for 18 years, and is on strike.

“UIC United Faculty stands in solidarity today with this union coalition because we are committed to making UIC an even better place to work and learn,” explained Janet Smith, president of United Faculty. “However, to do that, we believe the Board of Trustees needs to lead in changing the anti-union culture in the UI system. Union members should not have to strike like the LPNs are today, like UIUC grad students had to last spring and like faculty in Springfield the year before, in order to get a fair contract. We know there is a better way. “

“UIC wouldn’t function without the labor of grad workers, yet our baseline salary is only $18,000 and the University requires us to pay up to $2,000 in annual fees,” said Jeff Schuhrke, co-president of the GEO. “That’s over ten percent of our income going right back into the employer’s pocket. We shouldn’t have to pay to work here. In our contract negotiations, we’re demanding substantial raises and fee waivers. But instead of listening, the UIC administration is trying to undermine our collective bargaining rights.”

“UIC’s attempts to unilaterally impose a new system for payroll deductions and revocations without consultation from the campus unions feels a lot like a Rauner move. Raunerism is a thing of the past,” said SEIU Local 73 president Dian Palmer. “We’re here to say, ‘UIC get with the program and stop stealing money from unions by immediately correcting payroll codings, cease & desist from improperly honoring revocation requests made directly to the employer!’”

GEO, United Faculty, and the LPNs have been in contract negotiations with the University for the past several months. The bargaining units represented by SEIU Local 73, including clerical, maintenance, technical, and civil service workers, will begin contract negotiations next year.



Read More

14 Nov A Window Into A Union Victory

UIC faculty's mud covered view from an office inside University Hall.

UIC faculty’s mud covered view from an office inside University Hall.

Everyday Unionism
When people think of unions, they often associate them with picket lines, protests, and occasionally major lawsuits. To some extent, that makes sense, as those are indeed some of the strongest actions a union can take to ensure its members’ needs are being taken seriously. But that image belies the true, day-to-day realities of having a union presence in your workplace.

First and foremost, a union is a community. In particular, it is a community that allows its members to discuss shared workplace issues, and address them as a united group, rather than as isolated individuals. When union members act together, the results usually are not that flashy, but they are often far more effective than if people act on their own.

That’s why it is even more important to share the stories of everyday union victories in the workplace. Most labor actions won’t change the world overnight, but they very well might protect you from unsafe working conditions, or ensure that your boss thinks twice about making inappropriate comments in a staff meeting.

A Crumbling Facade
To highlight the fact that workers get taken more seriously when working together as a union, we have only to look back to a recent example: fallout from construction being done at University Hall.

If you’ve been around UIC lately, you may have noticed some construction going on. While construction on a university campus may be common, and necessary, it can still create major disruptions in the lives of faculty and students, especially when those faculty and students aren’t consulted or listened to.

In this case, the ongoing construction has caused a range of problems, from dust and particulate filling offices, to unbearable fumes, to major leaks in the facade which allowed muddy water to flow in, leaving stains and rot in its wake. The resulting mess was not only an eyesore, but a potential safety hazard. Yet when individual faculty complained, or asked the university how things would be cleaned up in the aftermath, UIC officials seemed to offer few assurances.

Yann Robert, an Assistant Professor working in University Hall, describes the issue. “When I contacted people in the Operations and Maintenance Office in the Fall of 2017 about a leak in my office that left streaks of mud on my windows, walls, and floor, I received vague answers about budgeting that left me unsure that the leak would ever be fixed, let alone the windows washed.”

A Voice The Boss Couldn’t Ignore
After hearing this story, and many others over the course of the construction, UIC United Faculty began to take action. The rumbling began at the grassroots, with members raising the alarm, and inviting other colleagues to share their stories. Before long, it was quite clear that this problem was widespread and in some cases quite serious.

When approached by the union with the collected testimony of so many faculty behind them, UIC officials changed their tune. They were immediately more helpful and responsive, saying they would take action to remedy the situation. And to some extent, at least, that’s what happened. With the union facilitating the identification of problem areas, the fumes and much of the rot from the leaks was, in fact, dealt with expediently.

“This incident showed that faculty consistently have the university’s best interest in mind, and that we are always ready to work collegially, respectfully, and with civility with our counterparts on the other side,” explained Professor Robert Johnston, our UICUF Chief Steward. “This episode happily demonstrated–despite what we have seen so often at the negotiating table and in consideration of grievances–that some administrators are willing to move toward such a productive partnership.”

Keeping Them Honest
Unfortunately, despite an initial good start to the work, as problems continued to mount, and the most serious issues were addressed, administration’s desire to follow through seemed to once again slacken. In particular, the administration appeared to be unconcerned about finalizing repairs of leaks, and were especially dismissive of cleaning up the mess they’d left behind.

Repeated demands for answers, both by individuals and the union, were met with unhelpful commentary about how the contractors would be responsible for cleanup, or how the impact of the leaks was minor and limited to small sections of the building. The accompanying reassurances by administration, that issues would be dealt with, were largely devoid of critical details, leaving some faculty feeling that UIC Administration wasn’t taking the remaining concerns seriously. UIC officials ignored further inquiries for weeks.

Only after union representatives actually accompanied inspectors to document the degraded working conditions caused by the construction, did things really change. In a shocking coincidence, days later, UIC officials emailed those working in University Hall to assure them that cleaning was being scheduled, and to give detailed instructions on how to set up work for individual offices.

The union intends to keep a close eye on how that cleaning proceeds, but for now at least, members feel vindicated. “When the union asked that soiled windows be cleaned throughout UH, the answer was far more positive,” Yann Robert tells us. “I leave everyone to reach their own conclusions about the benefits of a united voice looking out for the interest of the faculty.”

An Opportunity to Get Involved
As you can see, many things can be accomplished with the simple persistence and creativity of union members working together. But sometimes bigger efforts ARE necessary.

Tomorrow is one of those times. Given the overall slow progress of contract negotiations so far, we feel compelled to raise our concerns in front of a larger audience. Tomorrow, November 15th, the U of I Board of Trustees will be at Student Center West for one of their rare Chicago meetings. We, alongside our fellow UIC unions, will hold a rally and press conference to show the Board that we will not stand by and be railroaded with a take-it-or-leave-it contract. We will also be joining our fellow workers in the Licensed Practical Nurses bargaining unit of the Illinois Nurses Association, who will be going on strike for their own contract the same day.

We will gather in the south lobby of Student Center West at 9:30am, and will hold a press conference later that morning. We highly encourage our members and allies to attend one or both of these events tomorrow. If you are able to join us, please RSVP to UICUFJeff@gmail.com.

*        *        *

Until we win a fair contract, we will be issuing periodic updates via email, facebook, twitter, and here on our website. We strongly encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. With your support, we can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

WeHeartUIC - Logo

Read More

18 Oct Step Up

UICUF Banner

If you’re a faculty member at UIC, your union needs you! We are currently engaged in increasingly tough negotiations over our next contract, and the strength and involvement of our membership will be a decisive factor in achieving success in those negotiations.

To remind folks what’s at stake, U of I Administration has yet to agree to anything not already in our previous contract, despite 4 months of negotiation, 9 rounds of meetings, and the presentation of 16 proposals that would cost them little or nothing to implement. We have no reason to believe they’ll give proposals for long-awaited pay raises a more favorable reception.

Since the Administration has clearly signaled that they have no intention of engaging in constructive discussion, it seems that further action will be necessary to reach an agreement that addresses faculty concerns. Here are a few ways you can get involved in the coming weeks and months, to help us push for a contract that improves working and learning conditions at UIC AND keeps faculty financially secure in the face of rising inflation and local costs-of-living.


It’s an obvious one, but if you’re not a union member, joining the union is the first step toward helping us build power, and leverage toward a better contract. Every new member is a reminder to the Administration that our bargaining team represents a unified faculty. 2/3rds of all eligible faculty are already members, and joining is easy. Visit our membership page now to complete an application!

Knowledge is power, and we try to keep our members as informed as possible about union activities. In addition to our regular updates here on the website, members receive weekly email updates, and you can get even more timely info about union activities by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

Every bargaining day is an opportunity to show your solidarity by wearing your union colors. Let your colleagues, and U of I Administration, know that you support your bargaining team with a strong showing of your union blues. Members can request free t-shirts and pins if you don’t already have them, by emailing us at UICUnitedfaculty@gmail.com.

We periodically issue surveys to learn more about our members’ priorities. A bargaining priority survey is live RIGHT NOW, and if you’re a member, you should take 3 minutes to complete it. If you did not receive a link to the survey via email, contact us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com for a new one.

Attending events and actions is particularly important as a way of showing Administration that we can’t be railroaded in negotiations, or taken for granted. We currently have 3 major events on the calendar, and certainly more to come. RSVP to UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com if you can attend:

Tuesday, 10/23, 2-5pm: Bargaining session #10 @Student Center East, Rm 613
Monday, 11/5, 2-5pm: Bargaining Session #11 @TBD
Thursday, 11/15, 9-11am: Board of Trustees Meeting @Student Center West

Running a union that’s responsive to members and effective in engaging university administration takes a lot of work, but many hands makes that work much easier! Serving on a committee, acting as a communicator for your department, or running for an elected position are all great ways to make our union more effective. If you want to learn more about volunteer opportunities, let us know at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.


As contract negotiations unfold, we want to personally encourage you to be an active participant in our union, and the bargaining process. Everyone in our bargaining unit has a stake in these negotiations, and our strong membership is our greatest leverage at that table.

WeHeartUIC - Logo

Read More

04 Oct Get Informed, Get Involved

Frozen Salaries 2018

Setting the Record Straight on Campus Wage

If you’re a faculty member at UIC, you may have heard that the reason all faculty in our bargaining unit (union member or not) did not see a merit raise in their Notice of Appointment is because the union is negotiating our next contract.

I want to assure you that is not actually the case. This was the U of I administration’s choice, not UICUF’s. Labor law clearly allows for agreements on pay increases during contract negotiations, and the union would have been happy to consider such an interim agreement had one been presented.

I also want to assure you that UICUF will seek salary pools for merit as well as compression and equity in our new contract, and make sure raises are retroactive back to 8-16-18. However, we will not support any proposals that leave you with less earning potential than you had last year. To this end, we must point out that the 2% campus wage pool offered this year is downright insufficient when inflation is expected to be closer to 3%.


The Power of Participation

To ensure that U of I administration does the right thing, we are going to need to work together. Our Member Meeting Wednesday, October 10th, 3:30-5pm at Hull House, is a great opportunity to learn more about the negotiations, give input, and get involved. However, you must be a member to attend!

If you are not yet a member of the union, you can join by downloading an application, or you can complete one when you arrive at the Member Meeting. Members enjoy many benefits and privileges, including regular updates on the bargaining process as it unfolds and voting on the final contract.  

If you are already a member, the easiest way to support the union is to wear your UIC United Faculty T-shirts and pins on bargaining days, and come to observe the bargaining sessions as your schedule allows (next one is Tuesday, 10/9, 12-3pm @SCE, White Oak Room). Please let our organizer, Jeff Edwards, know about your plans to attend by emailing him at UICUFJeff@gmail.com. You can get union gear at the Member Meeting or by sending us a request at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com. You are the union!

As contract negotiations unfold, I want to personally encourage you to be an active participant in our union, and the bargaining process. Everyone in our bargaining unit has a stake in these negotiations, and our strong membership is our greatest leverage at that table.

We look forward to seeing you at bargaining, and at the Member Meeting next Wednesday!

In Solidarity,
Janet Smith
President, UIC United Faculty

WeHeartUIC - Logo

Fall Events

Tuesday, 10/9: Bargaining session #9. Wear your t-shirts and buttons on campus!

Wednesday, 10/10: Member Meeting, 3:30-5pm Hull House Dining Hall. Contract presentation by the Bargaining Team.

Tuesday, 10/23: Bargaining session #10. Wear your t-shirts and buttons on campus!

Wednesday, 11/7: Rep Assembly meeting 11-12:30pm, UH 2028. All members invited.

Thursday, 11/15: Board of Trustees meeting in Chicago.

Read More

20 Sep Elections Edition: Take Action, Get Registered, Vote!

Protest Austerity 2016small

When Educators Act, Communities Win

For a long time now, public education, and the workers who serve the public as teachers, faculty, counselors, etc. have been under political siege. We have been subject to stalled or slashed budgets, cuts to programs, personnel, and basic classroom resources, and have steadily been in the crosshairs of privatization advocates who want to run schools as (profitable) businesses. Yet it has become an all too mainstream narrative that it’s the educators serving our students who are selfish, lazy, and getting rich by draining the public coffers.

In many states, however, where the worst effects of this corrosive narrative have been felt, educators are fighting back, not just in their schools and universities, but at the ballot box, and in the halls of power. As UICUF union member Elizabeth Todd-Breland wrote in the Washington Post recently, “educators are protesting not just for better pay, but also for increased funding for public education to benefit students and communities.”

The recent wave of teacher uprisings have won substantial gains for public education as a whole, using many time-honored tools from the community organizing playbook, including public advocacy, work stoppages, and electoral activism. We’ve also seen an unprecedented wave of educators signing up as political candidates across the country. Educators and communities are fed up, and increasingly fighting to shift the political momentum toward supporting public education instead of degrading and defunding it. We need you to join us in that fight!


We Need 90%

Given the significant impact that politics can have on public education, we want to remind everyone that national elections are right around the corner, and voter registration deadlines are coming even sooner.

Union member, Professor of Political Science, and former public servant, Dick Simpson, strongly urges his colleagues to participate in the election process. “The 2018 election is too important to sit out. We need 90% registration and 90% of us UICUF voting. To make it easy, your can register to vote electronically in Illinois and we have an early voting site on campus for three days before Election Day November 6.”

There are also a number of opportunities to register in person on campus. Next week, the Civic Engagement Committee of  UIC will be hosting National Voter Registration Day events in the quad. You can show up any time from 11-1pm, Tuesday, Sept. 25th. Come make sure you’re registered and ready to vote, in what promises to be a pivotal election for higher education issues in the state of Illinois, and the nation. If you haven’t gotten around to registering, or updating your registration with your current address, now is the time!   


Your Committee On Political Education

We also want to remind all of our members that UIC United Faculty has started an independent political fund to support candidates that support public higher education. Union dues never go toward funding political campaigns, but we clearly have a critical interest in supporting candidates who value public education.

Even small contributions help, and faculty members working to educate the public on political issues goes a long way toward promoting a vision of higher education of which we can all be proud. If you want to become a contributor to our newly formed Committee On Political Education (COPE) fund, or want to get involved with the committee’s work, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

* * *

Our next contract bargaining session is September 27th. We are asking all our members to wear their UICUF T-shirts and pins that day to show solidarity and support for our bargaining team at the table. If you are a member and need a T-shirt, pin, or other UICUF materials, email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.


Until we win a fair contract, we will be issuing periodic updates via email, facebook, twitter, and here on our website. We strongly encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. With your support, we can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

WeHeartUIC - Logo

Read More

06 Sep UICUF Endorses National Prison Strike


Jailhouse Lawyers Speak
Millions for Prisoners Human Rights
Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee of the IWW (IWOC)
and all incarcerated people

Re: In solidarity with the National Prison Strike

In recognition of our shared interests in fair compensation for our labor and access to education, among other concerns, the faculty union of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), UIC United Faculty Local 6456, offers this letter of solidarity to all incarcerated peoples participating in the 2018 National Prison Strike and the supporting organizations of Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, Millions for Prisoners Human Rights, IWOC, and others.

UIC United Faculty is committed to:

  • Realizing the mission of the University of Illinois at Chicago as a public research university in a democratic society;
  • Making sure that every member of the faculty has an individual voice and that the faculty as a whole has a collective voice in determining our future;
  • Making the promise of shared governance a reality by backing it with the power of collective bargaining;
  • Keeping the principles of academic freedom, free speech and free inquiry central both to our union and our university.


In alignment with our mission and that of our land grant university, UIC United Faculty believes that access to public education is central to social justice, and we stand in support with those striking for their right to education. Further, we fully support the demands of the strikers and the work of the organizing bodies of the Prison Strike, and stand in solidarity with incarcerated people everywhere as they seek to gain fair wages for their labor. We reject any policies which deny people their basic human rights, and believe everyone has the right to demand equitable treatment.

Standing firmly on the side of justice, UIC United Faculty is proud to endorse the National Prison Strike, and pledge our support.

In solidarity,

UIC United Faculty Local 6456


Read More

30 Aug Union Greets New Faculty Amidst Salary Freeze by U of I System

Frozen Salaries

UICUF Offers Warm Welcome Back to Faculty and Students

Last week, UIC United Faculty greeted the newest members of our academic community. Our President, Janet Smith, spoke to new faculty at the campus orientation event about the history and ongoing importance of the union, and members from every college were present to personally welcome our new colleagues to the university. Meanwhile, at the annual Comp Camp for faculty teaching first year writing and composition, new faculty were eager to engage with our members about the work of the union. Between the two events, 25 new faculty became members on the spot!

To continue the warm welcome, there will be a Back-to-School Picnic for UICUF members and their families this coming Sunday, 9/2. We will usher in the new school year with a fun-and-sun event, and hope our new colleagues can join us!

And we haven’t forgotten the other new faces at the university. UICUF will be offering students free ice cream at the Student Involvement Fair in the East Campus Quad, along with info on the unions work, and how it affects their education. Our working environment is their learning environment. We strongly encourage UICUF members to come meet students at this fun event next Wednesday, 9/5.


University of Illinois System Greets Faculty With Frozen Salaries

In contrast to the hand of friendship extended by the union to faculty as we begin the new semester, Labor Relations has chosen to freeze faculty out of this year’s campus wage program. They erroneously claim that they can’t give us our merit raises during contract bargaining, referencing labor law meant to protect the sanctity of those negotiations.

What they don’t say is that it’s acceptable and common practice for groups engaged in contract negotiations to waive these “status quo” rules at times for the benefit of the employees. This is allowed, to ensure that employers can’t leverage the withholding of customary or universal perks, like yearly raises or bonuses, against organized employees negotiating a contract.

UICUF has met directly with Labor Relations representatives no less than 6 times this summer, yet not once was it mentioned that the university planned to hold back distributions of merit raises to its faculty. The fact that this was not discussed with the union directly, despite ample opportunity, tells us all we need to know: withholding our earned merit increases is a strategy to build leverage against the union in negotiations.

We fully anticipate that they will come back with this already insufficient 2% raise offer at the bargaining table later, hoping that our membership will be frustrated enough to just accept it. We will not, however, let this gross manipulation of status quo rules deter us for fighting to get the raises our members truly deserve.


Beyond Campus Wage: The Real Story Behind Stagnant Wages at UIC

Looking beyond intention, to the ultimate substance of the salary program, the 2% salary program offered by President Killeen for 2018-2019 is an insult. It is in no way connected to the financial reality of living in Chicago, and is below the nearly 3% annual inflation expected this year. But this is not news for most faculty at UIC. Historically, this program has lagged behind inflation, and certainly below the expectations of what experienced professionals should be earning in an expensive urban area like Chicago. And it surely does not help faculty catch up after two years of flat wages from politically frozen budgets. Plain and simple Faculty at UIC deserve more!  

This all comes in the shadow of a half-billion dollar budget deal struck with Gov. Rauner to help build a highly questionable new campus in the Loop. Of course, just a few months ago, Rauner seemed to forget that the University of Illinois system already has a campus in Chicago (Audio clip at 3:45).

When you look at the whole picture, it’s easy to see that Rauner, his appointees on the U of I board, and their representatives in Labor Relations don’t really care about UIC (when they remember we exist). That is why UICUF will be fighting for an investment in human capital this year, an investment that will ensure the recruitment and retention of the top-notch educators and researchers that our students and Chicagoans deserve.

* * *

Our next contract bargaining session is Wednesday, September 12th. In the interim, we will continue to post weekly articles on topics of critical interest to our membership.

For the duration of the bargaining process, we will be issuing periodic updates via email, facebook, twitter, and here on our website. We strongly encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. With your support, we can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

WeHeartUIC - Logo

Read More

16 Aug UIC United Faculty Newsletter: 1st Issue!

Today, we are excited to publish our first full newsletter, the UIC United Faculty VOICE! Learn about issues affecting our members, upcoming events, and new member benefits from our affiliates. You can also download a printable PDF version of the VOICE. Enjoy!

We also want draw your attention to the our union’s Representative Assembly Meeting, and New Faculty Meet and Greet next Thursday. All members are encouraged to participate in our union democracy at our Rep Assembly in UH2028 at 3pm, and then join us in welcoming new faculty at the end of their orientation in Student Center East at 4:45pm.

Lastly, bargaining updates will resume next week with our last negotiating session of the summer. Our previous contract has officially expired, but will remain fully in force until a new contract is agreed upon by both parties. If you have any concerns in this regard, contact us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com. In the meantime, visit our facebook and twitter feeds for more content.

Faculty voice Issue 1-1Faculty voice Issue 1-2Faculty voice Issue 1-3Faculty voice Issue 1-4Faculty voice Issue 1-5

PDF/Printable Version: Faculty voice Issue 1

Read More

09 Aug UIC Union Coalition Action: Labor Relations Responds


Campus Unions Unite for Answers

On July 24th, UIC United Faculty, along with two dozen representatives from our fellow unions, GEO, SEIU and INA, visited the administration’s Labor Relations office. By that time, we had already spent several months trying to negotiate with LR on common-sense policy updates related to the Janus ruling. Particularly at stake was the timely and accurate inclusion of new members, and the exclusion of non-members on dues deduction.

A month after the ruling, LR had not agreed to a mutually workable dues policy, and they appeared to be implementing their own policy changes without informing, much less consulting with, our unions. When our repeated efforts to have them disclose these policy changes were ignored, we felt we needed to take stronger action. That day, we walked into the LR offices to read our demands, and emailed the letter to the head of LR for good measure.

Labor Relations Responds

It’s now clear that Labor Relations did get the message. We were somewhat surprised at how quickly our action elicited a response!

We were also disappointed by the response we finally did get back from the Head of LR, which was blustery and riddled with inaccuracies. We conferred with our fellow unions, and together issued a level-headed follow up, asking for clarification on LR’s erroneous claims. So far, we have not heard back.

In the spirit of openness, here are Labor Relations’ response on post Janus dues deduction and our union coalition’s follow-up to that response. 

What Happens Now?

So what *did* we get out of this excursion? Some answers, at least as to how Labor Relations views their responsibility toward campus unions and union members. It’s now very clear we will have to take further action vis-à-vis our own contract, and possibly through legal channels to ensure the protection of our membership. Indeed, it seems clear from their response that LR is inviting such action.

We are now also suddenly in receipt of payroll data that we were essentially told couldn’t be provided prior to this point. That data shows pretty clearly that our action to have the university honor new union memberships in a timely manner WORKED. We should see the proof of that in the next payroll

While the effort to protect our members’ paychecks from petty Labor Relations games will doubtless continue, we consider this a definitive step toward a positive resolution.

* * *

Our next contract bargaining session is Wednesday, August 23rd. In the interim, we will continue to post weekly articles on topics of critical interest to our membership. Look out next week for an overview of student evaluations, how they’re used here at UIC and elsewhere, and the best practices we hope to win for our university in the future.

For the duration of the bargaining process, we will be issuing periodic updates via email, facebook, twitter, and here on our website. We strongly encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. With your support, we can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!

WeHeartUIC - Logo

Read More