Despite Lingering Concerns, Faculty Voices DID Make A Difference

20 Aug Despite Lingering Concerns, Faculty Voices DID Make A Difference


  • You Made a Difference: Despite ongoing issues, our actions as a united faculty dramatically reduced the number of people who will be on-campus and at risk this fall, won compensation for (some) faculty this summer, and secured faculty discretion in course delivery/recording.
  • Safety Concerns Still Loom: As classes begin this fall UICUF remains deeply concerned about campus safety, and significant policy differences remain unresolved with Admin.
  • UICUF Continues to Fight for Faculty: Whether you have individual or collective concerns, our union is ready to continue the work of representing you and making UIC an even SAFER place to work and learn. Email us at to reach a union representative.

Union Pressure DID Make a Difference
As we prepare to resume classes next week, its important to recognize that our union, through the vocal support of our membership, DID make a difference in the shape of the coming fall term. Many unilateral administration policies on everything from how and where we teach, to whether faculty got paid for off-contract summer prep work, were overturned or altered when we raised our voices together to demand better. We didn’t get everything we wanted, and much remains in policy-by-email form rather than signed agreements, but we hope you’ll agree that the following achievements would not have been possible without the collective actions of our members:

Initial Policy

Current Policy

On-Campus Teaching

No opt out policy beyond pre-COVID ADA process — 300+ faculty expected to teach 10,000 students.

Opt-out from traditional classroom instruction at faculty discretion (window is now closed)

Course Delivery

Top-down policy requiring synchronous or asynchronous formats, recording of classes

Faculty “encouraged” but not required to conduct asynchronous classes, record class sessions

Summer Pay

Mandated 80hrs unpaid prep time for online classes

$1m compensation pool for large asynchronous classes

Ongoing Safety Concerns and Policy Disagreements
Unfortunately, even with these changes, UICUF continues to have many concerns about the safety of on-campus work and learning. They began with the lack of transparency on a back-to-campus safety plan, and have only grown with the administration’s broad refusal to include union stakeholders in that planning process. Perhaps our gravest concerns, however, come from the stories of our union colleagues in SEIU and INA, who are currently considering strike votes over their working conditions. The administration’s failure to provide sufficient PPE or even enough disinfectant for custodial workers, the chronic understaffing of custodial ranks that continues despite promises of increased cleaning, and the fact of multiple unreported deaths and fresh infections (including cases reported in academic buildings this week), have been damning revelations to our members.

Last week, finally, an opt-out policy was enacted, giving faculty only 2 working days to act, and coming far too late to be practical for many faculty to use, though many in-person classes had already been cancelled under union pressure. This is only the latest decision in a pattern of the administration walking back their inscrutable on-campus instruction mandates at the last minute, leaving little time for faculty or students to adjust. Even this policy pointedly failed to address on-campus work outside of traditional classrooms, especially for our library faculty.

We want to firmly state that regardless of the administration’s stated opt-out deadline, which has passed, UICUF will support any faculty who wish to opt out of on-campus work for safety reasons. Emails us at if you want help seeking accommodations.

The Work Continues
Conditions will certainly continue evolving over the coming weeks and months, and our union will continue to make UIC an even SAFER place to work and learn. Whatever your situation, we highly encourage you to engage with your colleagues and with the union through our elected representatives if you have any concerns about COVID or other campus policies this semester.

To all our colleagues, please stay safe as you continue your exceptional work!

UIC United Faculty

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