UICUF Has Your Back

Photo of bright blue UICUF logo screen printed on white paper. Blurred image of people on UIC Quad in background.
UICUF screen prints by Clinical Assistant Professor, William Estrada, School of Art & Art History

UICUF has been gathering testimonials from members, telling the story of what membership in the union means for us as individuals and how the union makes us stronger as a collective. Our first such anecdote comes from Vit Vanicek, UIC Tutorium.

Back in 2016, Vit had a year-to-year contract with the UIC Tutorium, the unit that provides English language support to international students. As a result of predicted enrollment, Vit along with many other of his fellow lecturers were laid off. Vit found himself unemployed with little time to find another academic job, so naturally he was relieved when his program leadership reached out to him a few weeks before the semester started, letting him know they had underestimated enrollment and had a part-time, hourly position available. Vit accepted the position without questioning it, and by the time the semester commenced, he was assigned another section, bringing his FTE to 100% – but his pay remained hourly.

Vit called the union not to complain, but to cancel his membership--he was now making less than he had the year before doing the exact same job, and it seemed prudent. He explained the situation to UICUF staff, who immediately told Vit that these terms were unacceptable, and that he could not be treated that way. His program leadership however disagreed, saying the union didn’t understand the HR policies of the Tutorium. 

But we did. We are UIC.

Former President Janet Smith called Vit to discuss his situation and then contacted the Chancellor directly. Within weeks, Vit had his salary and benefits restored, while Tutorium administrators learned that the UF contract was a document which carried weight and power. Soon other faculty were rehired with fully restored salary and benefits.

“When Janet talked to me, she translated it into these very human terms that were easy to comprehend, no legalese there, and that was the support that was the best of its kind…an uninformed person gets the information that they need and then somebody helps them without them needing to do anything extra, and that’s when I really started to believe in the union…I think the most powerful thing that I feel about the union is that whatever we get to negotiate, everybody gets. And that is something that I feel is the strongest virtue of the existence of the union. That is something that both TT and NTT should acknowledge, however far in their career they are, or however close to retirement they are, or however much money they’re making. People don’t realize that that’s what the union does; whatever the union negotiates successfully automatically goes to everybody.”  -- Vit Vanicek, PhD. Linguistics, Lecturer, UIC Tutorium

Being part of UICUF has affected each of us in different ways. If you’d like to share your own story with the membership, please contact Kris May, UIC Tutorium (kristinehmay@gmail.com) or David Crockett, College of Business Administration (dcrockett17@gmail.com)