01 Nov Fighting Harassment, Discrimination, with Union Contracts
- UIC Grad Workers Lead the Way: UIC GEO, the graduate workers union, is leading the way in negotiating new and badly needed contract protections against workplace sexual harassment, discrimination, and bullying. These issues affect all of us at UIC and we’re proud to support UIC GEO in this cause.
- Status Quo: Currently, complaints go to the university’s Office of Access and Equity (OAE), notorious for their slow and equivocal responses to issues, which rarely address the individual’s concerns.
- Proposal-At-A-Glance: GEO is proposing practical changes, including guaranteed accommodations to protect those experiencing harm (regardless of whether/how an OAE investigation proceeds), options to file complaints via union grievance procedures, and an end to mandatory reporting that limits survivors’ autonomy.
- Joint Rally Supporting Anti-Harassment/Anti-Discrimination Proposals: UICUF will join our grad worker colleagues for a rally in the Quad around greater workplace protections in these cases on Wednesday, 11/17, from 12:30-1:30pm.
As we discussed last week, our colleagues in the graduate workers’ union, UIC GEO, are currently bargaining their next contract. We are preparing for our own next round of negotiations, anticipated to begin this spring, and are watching the proceedings with keen interest.
Among their current set of proposals, we think those dealing with sexual harassment, discrimination, and bullying bear particular note. In our own experience, current university policy is woefully inadequate in these areas.The process by which complaints are filed, reviewed, and addressed leaves much to be desired.
Here are some of the proposed fixes that GEO is bringing to the table:
- Guaranteed workplace accommodations to move those experiencing harm out of toxic situations without requiring formal reporting to OAE
- An end to mandatory reporting, which takes autonomy away from survivors of sexual harassment or assault and drives a wedge between them and potentially supportive colleagues
- Expanded protections for workers who do choose to file formal reports with OAE
- The option to pursue sexual harassment or discrimination complaints through the union grievance process instead of filing with OAE, giving them clearly structured procedures and timelines
- Expanded definitions of sexual harassment and more groups protected from discrimination
- New language on workplace bullying and discriminatory harassment
These proposals aim to give those affected by harassment, discrimination or bullying more support for getting out of bad situations, while maintaining autonomy over who they can talk to and how they can address an issue. They also ensure, with the backing of union contract enforcement, that protections for complainants are automatic, and not tied to the outcome of an adversarial investigation, or a punitive outcome for those named in a complaint.
Importantly, adding these options does not remove or invalidate the option to engage in formal reporting through OAE, but does give those affected more alternatives if they feel that process is not appropriate for their situation.
If you have questions about how these proposals will work, or how they might affect faculty, you can reach a union representative by emailing UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com with any questions.
Rally to Support Anti-Harassment/Discrimination/Bullying Proposals
UIC United Faculty will join UIC GEO for a rally in the Quad on Wednesday, 11/17, from 12:30-1:30pm, in support of these groundbreaking proposals. GEO has also invited our members to speak on their own experiences with sexual harassment, discrimination, and/or bullying at UIC. These are issues that affect every worker on campus, so please mark your calendar and drop by for the rally!
If you are willing to speak on your own experiences, please contact us confidentially at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.
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:
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!