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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.

***

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

 

***

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

***

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

***

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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13 Aug UICUF Position on Masking and Distancing

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  • UICUF Policy Position on Masking:We strongly support the current universal indoor masking policy at UIC. As there is no official policy on enforcement of mask rules, faculty discretion must be honored in regard to managing our own classrooms. We recommend collaborative and/or progressive approaches to encourage student masking.
  • UICUF Policy Position on Distancing:UIC communications and enrollment policy suggest there is currently no plan to apply distancing guidelines on campus, though this may change. UICUF supports maintaining 6ft distancing guidelines, until such time as UIC meets the CDC definition of a fully vaccinated campus. Faculty concerned about crowding should ask their units ASAP for support meeting 6ft distancing guidelines.

Dear Colleagues,

This is the second installment in our series of policy positions on critical elements of UIC’s fall reopening plans. In our last message, we discussed policy regarding remote/alternative work accommodations. Today, we are discussing positions on two major pieces of policy affecting campus safety: Masking and Distancing.

Regardless of other safety precautions being put in place, it remains UICUF’s position that the best thing individual faculty can do to protect ourselves, our students, and our communities, is to get vaccinated and comply with UIC’s vaccine confirmation process. This will help all parties involved have a better understanding of the health and safety landscape we face this fall, and may have a significant impact on how classes are arranged.

Masking
Current Policy: All individuals on campus are required to be masked while indoors, regardless of vaccine status. There is currently no official expectation nor restriction in place regarding faculty enforcing masking in their classrooms, but faculty already have the right to manage our classrooms in regard to dangerous or disruptive behavior.

UIC United Faculty Position:
Given the ongoing health risks posed by COVID-19 and the increase in new variants that appear to be vaccine resistant, along with the physical limitations of ventilation in public spaces and classrooms, UICUF strongly supports universal indoor masking on campus.

Regarding enforcement, UICUF has discussed our concerns with the admin on what role faculty play in enforcing the mask mandate. They have so far signaled that faculty will not be responsible for mask enforcement.

It is the position of the union that faculty discretion on enforcing or not enforcing mask policies must be honored insofar as it already applies to classroom management. UICUF views the creation of any future enforcement policy to be a mandatory subject of collective bargaining. Furthermore, no faculty should be disciplined for acting or not acting within the context of managing their classroom.

Guidance to Faculty
It is recommended that faculty consider collaborative and progressive approaches to encouraging safe behavior in their classes. Options such as syllabus agreements, discussion on safe classroom behavior with students, clear warnings when safe conduct is not respected, and escalating responses to repeated issues should be considered whenever possible.

It is further recommended that faculty seek support from UICUF if you are facing challenges with classroom management, are not getting the support you need from your Unit EOs, or are being directed to act in a manner you feel is inconsistent with your reasonable rights to manage your own classroom.

Distancing
Current Policy: Course enrollment policies appear to be based on an assumption of full vaccination, with no distancing requirements being taken into account. On July 21, 2021, UIC stated in an email to faculty: “As we approach the fall semester and achieve a fully vaccinated environment, we anticipate no longer requiring social distancing indoors in classrooms and other campus facilities effective Aug. 16.” It was later stated in an email to all faculty on August 6, 2021: “Given the dynamic situation with the Delta variant, we are closely monitoring public health recommendations and we may need to adjust physical distancing requirements for the fall.”

UIC United Faculty Position:
The absence of distancing policies appears to be based on the expectation that UIC will reach the CDC definition of a fully vaccinated campus, which would allow for the loosening or dropping of mitigation activities including physical distancing. A fully vaccinated campus is one on which all individuals present are verified to either be fully vaccinated, or exempt.

Based on vaccination reporting statistics, however, UIC does not currently appear to meet the necessary requirements for this status. It is unclear when or if the university will meet this criteria before the Fall 2021 semester begins.

Therefore, it is UICUF’s position that UIC must adhere to the CDC guidance for campuses that are not fully vaccinated. This includes providing signage and markers in all public places — hallways, restrooms, elevators, central offices and classrooms — to remind people to follow the 6 feet distancing guidance. In classrooms where this is not possible due to enrollment and capacity, the university should work with the faculty member to find a reasonable solution (e.g. finding a larger classroom on campus) based on the number of students expected to attend class in person. Where practicable, faculty may space out students and/or block off seating to allow distancing.

Guidance to Faculty
If you are concerned about crowding in your classroom or other work and meeting spaces, we recommend that you consult with your unit EO immediately to discuss possible solutions.  UICUF can assist as needed.

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, 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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10 Aug UICUF Position on Remote/Alternate Work Accommodations

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  • UICUF Policy Positions on Reopening: UICUF is finalizing positions on ensuring a safe start to the fall semester and the broad resumption of in-person classes, including guidelines on safety, accommodations, and teaching modes.
  • Informing Members and Supervisors: We have developed detailed statements intended to inform members and administrators on union positions. We will share them over the next two weeks, delineating current policy as we understand it, our position relative to that policy, and direct advice for faculty navigating these policy areas.
  • Position on Accommodations and Alternate Duties: Last year, admin issued guidelines for seeking remote or alternate duty accommodations. Additional options exist through the Office of Access and Equity, which handles requests under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Accommodations Position Summary: Seeking accommodation at the unit level is always preferable where possible. It is UIC policy that units should offer maximum flexibility. Accommodations should be discussed in an interactive process, and UICUF will assist if desired.

Dear Colleagues,

As we approach the fall 2021 semester, UICUF recognizes that our university community faces many challenges in regard to campus reopening, COVID-19 safety measures, and their impacts on teaching, research, and service. We also recognize that the UIC administration has already established policies to promote campus health and safety while balancing the pursuit of our teaching and research missions as a public R1 university.

UICUF fully supports the vaccine mandate for faculty, staff, and students, and encourages all to register their status with UIC if you have not done so already. We also fully support the requirement that people be masked indoors — even if vaccinated — to help reduce the spread of the Delta variant.

While vaccination is the most effective means of mitigating the effects of COVID-19, UICUF believes it is one of many possible mitigation strategies that the university can and should enact. It is possible that UIC will not reach the specific definition of a fully vaccinated campus as determined by the CDC by the time classes resume, and we strongly believe that the administration should pursue other mitigation steps to keep the campus community safe. These steps include but may not be limited to: continued universal masking indoors in accordance with university policy, an assumption of full social distancing protocols for classroom planning and management, and attention to indoor air quality with the addition of HEPA filtration systems where appropriate.

UICUF also broadly agrees with and supports the campus safety measures currently in place.
However, we have some concerns based on a review of the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) guidance release on July 19, 2021 and the July 23, 2021 CDC guidance for Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs). Recognizing that circumstances are changing with the Delta variant, we will outline union policy positions as guidelines for our membership and the university administration over our next several communications before the first day of classes. These statements will define our understanding of specific policy areas, our positions relative to them, and guidance to faculty on how to operate within them. These position statements are intended as timely responses to current conditions, with the understanding that conditions will continue to evolve rapidly.

Remote-Work/Alternative Work Accommodations
Current Policy: UIC currently acknowledges two possible paths to request remote work or adjusted duties relative to COVID-19 considerations.

There is a policy by which faculty can work out accommodations directly with their Unit Executive Officer (EO). Faculty can request accommodation under this policy based on personal health risks, family/household health risks, or even other impacts of the pandemic such as childcare needs. Granting of these accommodations is at the discretion of your Unit Executive Officer, but the policy expressly directs Unit EOs to offer maximum flexibility consistent with unit operations.

A separate process, solely for personal health accommodations without regard to family/household issues, also exists under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and can be accessed through the university Office of Access and Equity (OAE). This process is governed by federal and state law and does require disclosure to OAE of your reason for requesting an accommodation, but this information will remain confidential and will not be shared with your supervisor. It may require examination by a university health professional.

You may seek accommodation through either or both of these routes at your discretion. It is important to be aware, however, that in both cases determining the specific nature of the accommodations is an interactive process. This means that the accommodations will potentially represent a compromise that may or may not fully align with your desired outcome. At the same time, we want to remind faculty that university’s position is to work with employees to determine the best solution possible

UIC United Faculty Position: UICUF strongly supports the rights of faculty to accommodations, based not only on their own personal risk factors, but also on household and family considerations. We are satisfied that the referenced policies should adequately address the vast majority of cases.

Guidance to Faculty: UICUF encourages faculty to seek accommodations at the unit level by discussing matters with their Unit EOs wherever feasible. If you feel you are eligible for ADA accommodations based on personal health needs, this may be preferable depending on your relationship with your Unit EO. For faculty who feel that they need accommodations but do not feel comfortable reaching out to their Unit EO and do not qualify for ADA accommodation, we invite you to contact the union directly at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com, and we will be delighted to assist you in seeking a solution.

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, 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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04 Aug Negotiating Vaccination and Remote Work Accommodations

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  • UICUF Met with Admin Friday: In our first meeting, we reaffirmed members’ support for a strong vaccine and safety policy when we start Fall semester.
  • Vaccine Mandate: Admin confirmed that vaccine compliance and reporting was NOT a condition of employment but left the consequences for noncompliance largely unspecified. At this time we are still encouraging faculty to get vaccinated if possible and to register your vaccine status through UIC Healthcheck to allow for better fall planning.
  • Accommodations for Remote Work: We discussed the limitations of seeking accommodations through the current process, only offered under ADA guidelines. UICUF and Admin seem to agree that non-ADA accommodations should be available and worked out at the unit level as needed, though details are still being considered.
  • What Students are Being Told: In case you have not seen it, this is the latest message to students on vaccines and remote learning. Note that remote-learning accommodations aren’t unlimited, and admin encourages students to discuss options with their faculty.

Dear Colleagues,

We met with UI Labor Relations and Acting Provost Karen Colley on Friday and began the process of seeking clarification and agreement on the vaccine mandate, other safety measures, and remote work accommodations. It was a generally positive meeting, with both sides seemingly in alignment, at least in principle, on most of the big issues. We very much appreciate Acting Provost Colley’s ready willingness to meet and work with us during her time in office.

Vaccine Policy
We in particular reaffirmed our members’ strong interest in having a thorough and clearly defined vaccine policy, implemented as soon as possible–a sentiment that the administration clearly agrees with. We did seek answers on how the vaccine mandate would be enforced, and while administration confirmed that they don’t view vaccination as a condition of employment per se (meaning no one will get fired for non-compliance or non-disclosure), it was much less clear what actually would happen in the case of non-compliance. At this time, we’ve been told faculty will be getting notices that they are out of compliance, and that their unit heads will be notified. We are asking for more details.

UICUF wants to establish clear guidelines so that the results of vaccine non-compliance or non-disclosure are understood by all parties well before they are put to the test, and to assure that enforcement is fair and consistent.

We are also seeking clear guidance on how exemptions are being considered so that our members know whether they are eligible, and also so that we can confirm the process is rigorous for our members’ safety. We believe it would serve everyone’s peace-of-mind, as well as fairness and equity generally, to know how the exemption process works.

Finally, in regard to vaccine compliance, we asked if the administration anticipated meeting the CDC definition of a fully vaccinated campus. At this time, the administration seems to be unable to give a clear answer, and we will continue probing on this important issue. At a fully vaccinated campus, where all individuals present are vaccinated, other mitigations like distancing can be loosened or even eliminated entirely. However, if UIC does not meet the requirements, it could mean that distancing would have to remain in place, significantly changing the dynamic of class sizes and spaces.

Remote Work Accommodations
The other major item for consideration we discussed was how remote work accommodations would be handled. It’s long been our position that the current policy of requiring anyone seeking accommodations to go through the ADA process is an inadequate response given the realities of the COVID pandemic. The policy does not, for example, provide for anyone who has vulnerable family or household members because it focuses solely on the individual health of the worker seeking the accommodation.

Again, the administration team appeared to agree, in principle, that a broader framework for accommodations should be considered. They specified, and we largely agree, that such determinations should be made at the unit level, between faculty and their supervisors. However, we intend to seek a clear affirmation of this sentiment in writing, along with guidance to all unit heads that reinforces the need for flexibility wherever possible. Again, the concern is that such a sentiment without any guidance or written agreement to back it is liable to produce unequal and inequitable outcomes across different units. While one size cannot fit all situations, we believe a duty on the part of unit heads to meet and negotiate with faculty seeking an accommodation is an appropriate step.

What Students are Being Told
We want to bring attention to the latest updates for students regarding vaccine status and remote learning. Importantly, the administration has said that students are expected to be vaccinated if possible, that vaccinated students are expected to be on campus, and that the availability of remote learning is not a given. They further say that those who qualify for accommodations to learn remotely (which will NOT be automatically granted to vaccine-exempt students) will likely need to discuss details with faculty. All of this is to say that faculty autonomy is very much still in place in terms of teaching methods, and UICUF will stand ready to assist faculty with concerns in this area.

As ever, we highly encourage you to send us your thoughts and questions, general or specific, regarding vaccination mandates, return-to-campus, remote work, or any other concerns you may have. We will continue updating the membership as the situation evolves.

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, 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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