News

08 Jun Contract Bargaining Continues: Get to Know Your Contract!

  • U of I System announces 2022 salary program: Similar to past practice, administration refuses to grant merit-based salary raise pool to UICUF members.
  • UICUF Bargaining team met with UIC admin for 4th session: The power of GEO’s strike continues, as admin accepted Article IV revisions that mirror the new GEO contract and rejected our attempts to take their wins farther.
  • Get to know your contract: Article XV of our faculty contract discusses processes in matters of faculty Discipline.

University-wide 2022 salary program announced

On May 31 System President Tim Killeen announced a 3.5% merit-based raise pool for the U of I system. In line with past practice, the announcement stated that members of collective bargaining units would not be a part of this pool until contract negotiations were concluded. 

Withholding campus salary raises from the bargaining unit is not a necessary part of the contract negotiation process.  Without a doubt it is a choice made by the administration as a part of their negotiation tactics. We are particularly concerned that this decision, this year, shows a great disrespect for faculty, given our struggles with inflation and, even more, our substantial collective sacrifices during the pandemic. 

That said, we wish to remind members that in the past our contracts have always used the salary program as a baseline for our raise pool–which we will demand be applied retroactively to faculty salaries upon the completion of the new contract


Contract Bargaining Updates

The UICUF bargaining team met with the administration bargaining team for a fourth session on Monday. Last session we submitted five articles for consideration: 

  • Article IV. Non-Discrimination
  • Article XV. Discipline and Dismissal
  • Article XVI. Labor Management Meetings
  • Article XVII. Access to Personnel File
  • Article XVIII. Grievance and Arbitration 

Our proposals for Article IV. Non-Discrimination mirrors the language of the current GEO contract with a few important changes. Thanks to the incredible work of our GEO colleagues who struck for eight days to win significant protections for survivors, the administration team offered us nearly everything that GEO won in their last contract. However, they rejected our additional proposals, including timely notification of faculty who are the subject of an OAE complaint, a clearer definition of and condemnation of workplace bullying, and removal of the “responsible employee” designation for faculty to support survivors’ right to decide when and how to report misconduct. 

 We also continued to discuss Article XVI (Labor Management Meetings), Article X (Academic Freedom) and Article XI (Governance). A central issue in all of these articles is increasing our ability to collaborate with the administration through greater faculty and union representation in important decision-making committees and direct access to top administrators. While we did not resolve our disagreements on these issues, we had a productive discussion. 

Get To Know Your Contract
UIC UF Faculty Contract (2018-2022)
Article XV. Discipline and Dismissal (NTT Version)

A. The University may discipline, suspend, or dismiss a non-tenure track system bargaining unit member prior to the end of their appointment term for just cause. 

B. The University and Union agree with the principle of positive progressive discipline intended to correct deficiencies when possible, and that a reasonable process under the circumstances is required to impose discipline for just cause. Progressive discipline is based on the idea that as offenses occur appropriate discipline will be administered in a progressive manner.  The parties acknowledge that discipline might not be progressive if the offense is sufficiently serious.  

C. The levels of progressive discipline for bargaining unit members are (1) verbal counseling, (2) letter of warning, (3) suspension, and (4) dismissal.

D. In cases of disciplinary verbal counseling the unit head must inform the non-tenure track system bargaining unit member that they are receiving a verbal counseling and must provide the reasons for the verbal counseling. 

E. A unit head shall convene a pre-disciplinary meeting if discipline other than a verbal counseling is contemplated, and notify the non-tenure track system bargaining unit member in writing of the purpose of the meeting at least two (2) days in advance of the meeting. The non-tenure track system bargaining unit member shall be given the opportunity at or before the meeting to rebut the reasons for the contemplated discipline.

F. Non-tenure track system bargaining unit members have the right to Union representation throughout the disciplinary process, including during any investigatory interview that may reasonably lead to discipline.

G. Except for purposes of determining a pattern of behavior, letters of warning will remain in effect for purposes of progressive discipline for only two full consecutive semesters.

H. Situations in which a faculty member is placed on paid leave pending the conclusion of an investigation shall not be considered discipline.

I. A non-tenure track system bargaining unit member may utilize the Grievance and Arbitration procedure set forth in this Agreement to appeal any discipline, suspension or dismissal issued under this Article.  If the arbitrator fails to sustain the University’s action, they may not award any remedy (e.g., compensation, reinstatement, reappointment) for time beyond the terminal date of the appointment during which the non-tenure track system bargaining unit member was disciplined, suspended or dismissed.  Any award of back pay shall not exceed the amount the faculty member would have earned from the date of suspension or dismissal to the end of the term of appointment. 

This article from the non-tenure track contract establishes a protocol for positive progressive discipline in disputes between faculty and administrators related to perceived deficiencies in faculty workplace performance. Positive progressive discipline is a formative process that is intended to correct deficiencies and give faculty opportunities to develop before discipline resulting in professional harm occurs. Letters D through H articulate what each of the 5 levels of action entails.

When an issue with faculty performance is identified by an administrator, the administrator must first address the issue verbally with the faculty member. This does not mean an informal elevator conversation. Verbal counseling must begin with a statement by the administrator that the conversation is a part of the formal progressive disciplinary process, as well as an explanation of the cause for the counseling and a recommended action for resolution. Upon the receipt of a verbal counsel, faculty should contact union representation–all faculty have the right for union representation at any and all stages of the disciplinary process. If the deficiencies are perceived to continue, the faculty member, a union representative of their choosing, and the supervisor must meet so that the faculty member has an opportunity to rebut or question the perception of deficiency. A written letter of warning enumerating the problems must be provided at least two days before the meeting, giving the faculty member the chance to understand the complaints and gather information. 

If the situation escalates, and a faculty member is placed on suspension, the suspension itself cannot be considered punishment and should be paid pending the outcome of a formal investigation presumably following university policy. It is only after these steps have been observed that dismissal is a potential outcome of faculty disciplinary processes. 

Our proposals for this article in the new contract include further articulation of these steps and protections. We hope to ensure that in cases where non-faculty entities, such as the Office of Access and Equity, are part of the process that the faculty member is included in all communications between that entity and their supervisors and that these entities cannot determine punishment of faculty. Our final and most important proposal for this article is to include this language in the Tenure-Track version of our contract. Right now there is no specific protocol for tenure-track faculty in disciplinary situations. For pre-tenure faculty, the lack of a clear process for normative development and progressive discipline is not only a clear danger, but an oversight in regards to the mentorship and support of junior faculty. The university and its executive officers have the responsibility to mentor and develop faculty in meaningful ways, and we envision this policy as a way to ensure faculty have the opportunities to develop when problems arise. 
 

In Solidarity,
The UIC UF Bargaining team

Xochitl Bada (Associate Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies) | Aaron Krall (Senior Lecturer, English) | Andy Baker (Clinical Assistant Professor, Music) | Anna Kornbluh (Professor, English) | Becky Bonarek (Lecturer, Tutorium in Intensive English) | Charitianne Williams (Senior Lecturer, English) | Gosia Fidelis (Associate Professor, History)  | Ian Collins (Clinical Assistant Professor, Daley Library) | Jim Drown (Senior Lecturer, English) | Jeff Gore (Senior Lecturer, English)  | Jennifer Rupert (Senior Lecturer, English, Gender and Women’s Studies) | Kate Floros (Clinical Assistant Professor, Political Science) | Kate Lowe (Associate Professor, Urban Planning and Policy) | Kevin O’Brien (Clinical Associate Professor, Library of the Health Sciences) | Kevin Whyte (Professor, Math, Statistics, and Computer Science) | Laurie Quinn (Clinical Professor, Biobehavioral Nursing Science) | Paul Preissner (Professor, Architecture)

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25 May Judge Recommends Including Bridge to Faculty Scholars in Union!

  • Welcome to the newest UICUF members: In March 2022, 75% of the B2F members signed a petition to join our union. Last week, an administrative law judge recommended including B2Fs in the NTT unit. This puts the end in sight for a nearly two years-long effort to secure union protections for Bridge to Faculty.
  • Labor board to finalize decision June 15: The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board will meet on June 15 and will likely make a final decision based on the judge’s recommendation at that time.

The Bridge to Faculty (B2F) program offers two-year post-doctoral (or post-terminal degree) positions to underrepresented scholars with an expectation that they will join the tenure-track faculty at the end of their post-doc. The B2F program is arguably the foundation for attempts to recruit a more diverse faculty at UIC–one of the most serious issues facing the faculty, and indeed university as a whole.

Almost two years ago, a new UIC faculty member in the first cohort of B2F scholars attempted to join UICUF, the union that her offer letter said she could be a part of. To her, and our, surprise, HR refused to process her membership, saying she was not in the union’s bargaining unit after all. This initiated a fight to ensure union representation for Bridge to Faculty scholars that included a grievance, a bargaining unit clarification petition, and finally a majority interest petition in which 75% of B2Fs signed union cards and petitioned to join UICUF’s non-tenure track bargaining unit. This petition eventually went to a legal hearing in which various faculty and B2Fs testified to demonstrate the wide range of work NTT faculty do and the appropriateness of including B2Fs in that category. The University took a page from the playbook of the typical union buster, arguing that the B2Fs could only be represented in a much larger (and harder to organize) unit of all postdoctoral research associates.

On Thursday, May 19, the judge who presided over the hearing issued a recommendation to accept the petition, finally allowing B2Fs to unionize. The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board will make a final decision based on this recommendation when they meet on June 15. UIC administration, despite the Administrative Law Judge’s well-reasoned recommendation, plans to appeal. UICUF will submit a response to the appeal when the administration actually files it, and the Board will consider the appeal and response in making their final decision.

The University administration has been inexplicably intransigent regarding B2F unionization, resisting informal resolution or settlement at various stages. Indeed, at times the university lawyers have wandered into genuinely insulting territory, suggesting that the highly accomplished scholars in the B2F program are unqualified to be faculty. Through all of this, the B2F scholars have remained admirably committed to advocating for themselves and each other, despite the precarity of their positions.

As B2F scholar Ash Stephens from the Department of Criminology, Law, and Justice explains, “As a postdoctoral scholar/researcher, being a part of UIC United Faculty is crucial to my livelihood. Being a member of UICUF would allow all B2F scholars labor protections and the ability to build collective power. I see unions as a place where many of the inequities of race, class, disability, gender, and other social positions of marginalization are prioritized when we discuss how they intersect with work and labor. It puts all B2F scholars in vulnerable positions to have our work unprotected.”

Despite the administration’s commitment to fighting the basic rights of B2F scholars, we at UICUF are excited to welcome the first cohort of B2Fs to the tenure track this fall and to welcome the rest into official membership in the non-tenure track bargaining unit once the labor board meets. The victory is important not only to the people who constitute the Bridge to Faculty program, but also as a clear message to administration that fair treatment and respect for Black and Brown scholars must be a part of their efforts to diversify UIC faculty.

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20 May UICUF Contract Negotiation: Bargaining Update 

  • UIC UF Bargaining team met with UIC admin for 3rd session: UICUF presented 5 articles for discussion
  • Get to know your contract: Article X of our faculty contract discusses processes in matters of faculty Academic Freedom.

Bargaining Updates
The UIC UF Bargaining Team met with the Administration team yesterday. We presented proposals developing Article IV. Non-Discrimination; Article XV. Discipline and Dismissal; Article XVI. Labor Management Meetings; Article XVII. Access to Personnel File; and Article XVIII. Grievance and Arbitration. Administration is expected to respond to our proposals at our next meeting in approximately 3 weeks.

Contract bargaining is currently taking place on Zoom, but we do hope to meet for in-person sessions soon. Union members are invited to observe sessions and collaborate with the bargaining team during caucuses. You can find out about upcoming sessions and other union events by following the UICUF calendar here or emailing UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

Get To Know Your Contract
UIC UF Faculty Contract (2018-2022)

Article X, Academic Freedom

  1. It is the policy of the University to maintain and encourage full freedom within the law of inquiry, discourse, teaching, research, and publication and to protect any member of the (tenure/non-tenure) track system bargaining unit against influences, from within or without the University, which would restrict the member’s exercise of these freedoms in the member’s area of scholarly research and interest. 
  2. As a citizen, a faculty member may exercise the same freedoms as other citizens without institutional censorship or discipline. A faculty member should be mindful, however, that accuracy, forthrightness, and dignity befit association with the University and a person of learning, and that the public may judge that person’s profession and the University by the individual’s conduct and utterances.
  3. A faculty member who believes that they do not enjoy the academic freedom which is the policy of the University to maintain and encourage shall be entitled to a hearing on written request before the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure of the campus Senate.  Such hearing shall be conducted in accordance with established rules of procedure.  The Committee shall make findings of facts and recommendations to the President and, at its discretion, may make an appropriate report to the Senate.  The several committees may from time to time establish their own rules of procedure.
  4. Any substantive dispute under this Article shall be resolved under Article X, Section 2 (d), of the University of Illinois Statutes
  5. Any procedural dispute under this Article under the control of a party to this Agreement shall be resolved under the Grievance and Arbitration procedure in this Agreement, and any such grievance decision thereunder shall be limited to providing a remedy correcting a process error.

Our union contract does not debate what constitutes a violation of academic freedom–that matter is handled by University Policy, U of I System Statutes, and most directly, the UIC Senate. Instead, this article makes clear that faculty do have academic freedom in matters of scholarship and teaching.

In cases where faculty feel their academic freedoms have been violated, members should immediately contact their union representative or email UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com, for advice and support in submitting a written request to the UIC Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure.

Our proposals for this article intend to make violations in the handling of academic freedom cases–such as discipline occurring prior to a UIC Senate hearing–fully contestable and grievable. While university policies exist, we have observed a wide range of administrative responses that are not consistent with those policies. Currently, bargaining unit members have no recourse when university policies are not followed. Therefore, we are pushing to include the language of those policies, including the UIC Student Academic Grievance Policy in Article X, in order to make the failure to follow policy fully grievable through the Union. So far, the administration’s bargaining team has refused to acknowledge the importance of holding UIC accountable to its own policies in this way.

In Solidarity,

The UIC UF Bargaining team

Xochitl Bada (Associate Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies) Aaron Krall (Senior Lecturer, English) Andy Baker (Clinical Assistant Professor, Music) Anna Kornbluh (Professor, English) Becky Bonarek (Lecturer, Tutorium in Intensive English) Charitianne Williams (Senior Lecturer, English) Gosia Fidelis (Associate Professor, History)  Ian Collins (Clinical Assistant Professor, Daley Library) Jim Drown (Senior Lecturer, English) Jeff Gore (Senior Lecturer, English)  Jennifer Rupert (Senior Lecturer, English, Gender and Women’s Studies) Kate Floros (Clinical Assistant Professor, Political Science) Kate Lowe (Associate Professor, Urban Planning and Policy) Kevin O’Brien (Clinical Associate Professor, Library of the Health Sciences) Kevin Whyte (Professor, Math, Statistics, and Computer Science) Laurie Quinn (Clinical Professor, Biobehavioral Nursing Science) | Paul Preissner (Professor, Architecture)

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06 May Bargaining for New Faculty Contract Begins

UICUF Bargaining: Get to Know Your Contract

  • Bargaining is in full swing: UICUF and Administration TA 7 articles.
  • Get to know your contract: Article I of our faculty contract outlines scope and purpose.
  • Only members of UICUF vote to ratify the faculty contract: Join the union to make your voice heard.

Join UIC United Faculty 
We would like to notify all UIC faculty that bargaining for the next faculty contract has begun. Continued updates concerning bargaining will be sent to UIC UF members only–you can join today and take part in this important process. Membership in the faculty union allows you to attend bargaining sessions, share input with the Bargaining Committee, and ultimately vote on whether to accept the contract they bargain. You may sign up here, or contact us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

Bargaining for our next faculty contract
The UICUF and UIC administrative bargaining teams met for the second time this week. The beginning of the season is often uncontroversial as both sides work to determine a process for moving forward and describe their goals for the next contract. As outlined in our bargaining platform available on the UICUF website, our proposals emphasize:

  •  Support & Security for Faculty
  • Accountability & Care in the Workplace,
  • Amplifying Faculty Voice in Shared Governance 

One important item accomplished at this past meeting was reaching Tentative Agreements on 7 articles. Tentative Agreements (TA) are a mechanism in the process where both sides agree to accept the article under discussion. Discussion on that article is then assumed to be closed, and generally can’t be reopened. 

Bargaining is currently taking place on Zoom, but we do hope to meet for in-person sessions soon. Union members are invited to observe sessions and collaborate with the bargaining team during caucuses. You can find out about upcoming sessions and other union events by following the UICUF calendar here.  

Get to Know Your Contract
We would like to focus our communications this summer bargaining season on UIC faculty workplace rights as outlined in our contract and discuss changes to the current contract your bargaining team is proposing. To this end, there is nowhere like the beginning for a place to start. Article I, Purpose is one of the articles TA’d this week:

UIC UF Faculty Contract (2018-2022)
Article I. Purpose
The purpose and intent of this Agreement is to provide for an orderly collective bargaining relationship and the promotion of sound and mutually beneficial relations between the Union, on behalf of bargaining unit employees, and the University.  This Agreement is intended to establish and make clear the wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment of bargaining unit employees and to provide a procedure for the equitable resolution of grievances as required by terms of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act.

While this text could be considered boilerplate, it is a legitimate articulation of what our union contract is to accomplish. The contract represents an agreement between the membership and the administration, but also a plan for all members of the UIC community to handle workplace scenarios in a fair, transparent, and consistent manner. Contracts are certainly a protection for faculty, but ours also provides protocols and guidance for how workplace disagreements should be handled by supervisors and upper-level administrators.

Our contract connects us with a larger system of justice and protection, explicitly the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, which recognizes the unique situation of education workers and the impact their working conditions have upon the Illinois public. In Fall 2021, 81% of UIC’s 34,199 students were permanent residents of Illinois–our working conditions are their learning conditions, which makes our contract an important part of maintaining the intellectual, cultural, and economic future of Illinois. 

In Solidarity,

The UIC UF bargaining team

Xochitl Bada (Associate Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies) | Aaron Krall (Senior Lecturer, English) | Andy Baker (Clinical Assistant Professor, Music) | Anna Kornbluh (Professor, English) | Becky Bonarek (Lecturer, Tutorium in Intensive English) | Charitianne Williams (Senior Lecturer, English) | Gosia Fidelis (Associate Professor, History)  | Ian Collins (Clinical Assistant Professor, Daley Library) | Jim Drown (Senior Lecturer, English) | Jeff Gore (Senior Lecturer, English)  | Jennifer Rupert (Senior Lecturer, English, Gender and Women’s Studies) | Kate Floros (Clinical Assistant Professor, Political Science) | Kate Lowe (Associate Professor, Urban Planning and Policy) | Kevin O’Brien (Clinical Associate Professor, Library of the Health Sciences) | Kevin Whyte (Professor, Math, Statistics, and Computer Science) | Laurie Quinn (Clinical Professor, Biobehavioral Nursing Science) | Paul Preissner (Professor, Architecture)

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26 Apr GEO Wins Tentative Agreement | Celebrate Janet Smith this Friday

  • GEO settles contract, suspends strike: grad workers won protections for survivors, increased wages, and fee waivers, among other important victories. 
  • Rally to memorialize Janet Smith, Friday at 12pm: Join us to celebrate Janet’s memory and rally to continue her fight for worker power at UIC and beyond. 
  • Action to save the quad, Thursday at 12pm: Join UIC undergraduates and the cultural centers in an action to save the quad as a space for protest and gathering.

Dear Colleagues,

At midnight last night, GEO and the UIC administration bargaining team reached a tentative agreement on the remaining articles of the GEO contract. GEO has suspended their strike and will hold a ratification vote later this week. In addition to increased protections for workers experiencing harassment, discrimination, and bullying, GEO won a 9.6% pay increase for the coming academic year and 3.75% and 3.25% increases in the following two years. All striking workers will have the opportunity to make up their missed work for full pay, and everyone currently in the bargaining unit will receive a lump sum retroactive payment of $1,000 for each of the past two semesters. See GEO’s wins summary for more details. 

We greatly appreciate all the solidarity that faculty have shown during the strike. Your contributions undoubtedly helped push the university administration toward a fairer contract. 

We will continue this spirit of solidarity by celebrating Janet Smith’s life and legacy this Friday at noon outside University Hall. Colleagues and comrades will speak to Janet’s enormous impact on UICUF, UIC, and the labor movement in Chicago. We will also present the inaugural Janet Smith Organizing Award to Gayatri Reddy (GWS, GLAS, Anthropology) and two years’ worth of John Shuler Shared Governance and Academic Freedom Awards to Philosophy and Global Asian Studies. We’ll conclude by introducing the 2022-24 UICUF leadership and sending the bargaining team into the summer with some rallying chants. After all, we couldn’t properly honor Janet’s memory without bringing some fighting, chanting spirit.  

Janet thought and cared a lot about physical spaces and how we use them. To honor that, we are asking participants to bring items that evoke Janet: photos, jewelry, buttons, or anything else that brings her to mind. We will have a space set aside to hold these items for the duration of the memorial. We hope to see you all there. 

Another way to honor Janet’s legacy and the history of protest at UIC is to join UIC undergrads and the Cultural Centers in resisting the planned renovation of the quad, which would eliminate it as a gathering space for rallies and other events and make it less accessible for people who need to pass through it. Please join students for an action in the quad this Thursday, 4/28 at noon and write to the Chancellor and Provost to express your support for the students’ concerns. 

Sincerely,

UIC United Faculty Leadership

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20 Apr Bring your class to the pickets! (and other ways to support GEO)

Dear UICUF members, 

As you know, our graduate worker colleagues have been on strike since Monday fighting for adequate pay, an end to fees, and protections for grad workers who are experiencing bullying and harassment. 

The UIC administration has been dragging its feet in negotiations and seems to be trying to punish grad workers for striking rather than trying to end the strike quickly. GEO needs our support in showing them that UIC cannot function as usual when grad workers withhold their labor! Here are a few ways you can be in solidarity with GEO: 

Join the pickets! There’s no way to show solidarity like walking a picket line. Given the choice between teaching on campus and joining the pickets versus teaching remotely, it is better to come to campus. 

Walking a picket line is very educational! Some faculty have given their classes the option of going together to the picket lines rather than meeting remotely or canceling class. Undergraduates who join the picket lines boost the energy of striking grad workers and learn invaluable lessons about power, collective action, and solidarity. 

Join a rally! AFT President Randi Weingarten will be speaking in the quad tomorrow, Thursday 4/21/22 at 10:30am. Keep an eye on GEO’s twitter for announcements of other upcoming actions. 

Send a departmental letter of support! GEO is asking faculty in all academic units to send letters of support to the university administration. Several departments have already done so. The departments of HistoryGLAS, and CLJ have already sent letters that can serve as inspiration for your department.  

Solidarity, 
UIC United Faculty Leadership

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13 Apr GEO Strike Begins Monday, April 18

Dear Colleagues,

The UIC Graduate Employees Organization (GEO), which represents Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants, remains far apart from the University administration on issues of salary, fees, and protections against workplace harassment, assault, and bullying. GEO intends to begin an indefinite strike on Monday, April 18th, 2022, assuming all the issues separating them are not resolved in their last bargaining session on April 14th. This guide describes how faculty can support GEO, as well as the legal rights of striking workers, which must be respected. 

SUPPORTING GEO DURING THE STRIKE
The following activities are both legally permissible and recommended by UIC GEO and UICUF for faculty who wish to support striking graduate workers: 

  • Don’t perform, or hire replacement workers to perform, duties assigned to TAs or GAs.
  • Participate in their letter-writing campaign and forward this request to colleagues and students.
  • Donate to GEO’s strike fund.
  • Join GEO members on picket lines when not working. You can show up at the Quad between 9 am and 4 pm for directions on where you are most needed.
  • Talk to students about why GEO is striking, including fair wages, fee waivers, and protection against harassment, assault, and bullying. 
  • Use a GEO zoom profile image, which you may download here
  • Avoid crossing picket lines between 9 am and 4 pm (locations of the pickets below)
    • Consider alternative forms of teaching (e.g., online/virtual)
    • Move classes to either evening hours, to an off-campus location, or to non-struck buildings, if possible and allowed under your unit’s policy.
    • If you do need to cross the line, join the line first to express your support.

RESPECTING THE LEGAL RIGHTS OF GRAD WORKERS DURING THE STRIKE 
Union membership, organizing in the workplace, and taking part in a strike are all legally protected activities. Broadly, participation in these activities cannot be punished, interfered with, restrained, or discouraged by an employer. We recommend that faculty be especially mindful of the following legal protections for striking grad workers:

  • It is a violation of the UICUF collective bargaining agreement with the University for faculty covered by that agreement to be asked to perform any duties of striking graduate workers.
  • It is unlawful to fire, discipline, or retaliate against grad workers for participating in a strike or union activity. 
  • It is unlawful to ask grad workers to inform anyone in advance of participating in a strike or union activity. 
  • It is unlawful to record or threaten to record the names of grad workers participating in a strike or union activity.
  • It is unlawful to discriminate against, restrain, or coerce grad workers regarding union membership or activity.  

In some University communications to faculty, it has been suggested that faculty and heads/chairs may choose to cover graduate student duties such as grading or covering labs/discussions on a case-by-case basis. However, the UICUF contract protects faculty from being required to cover the duties of striking workers. If you are asked to do so, please inform union leadership at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com

FAQs
For additional information, please refer to our FAQ document and/or contact us at uicunitedfaculty@gmail.com

PICKETING LOCATIONS

  • University Hall (UH)
  • Lecture Centers A, B, C, D, E, and F
  • Grant, Douglas, Lincoln, Taft, Burnham, Adams, and Stevenson Halls (GH, DH, LH, TH, BH, AH, SH)
  • Science and Engineering Labs (SEL)

As fellow union members, we thank you in advance for respecting the rights of organized graduate employees during any upcoming labor actions, and encourage you to lend your support outside the classroom as you are able.

If you have any questions or wish to share information you are receiving from the University administration, please email UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.

Solidarity,

UIC United Faculty Leadership

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08 Apr GEO Files Intent to Strike; The Racial Consequences of Underfunding Public Higher Ed; UICUF Awards; AFT Survey of NTT Faculty 

  • UIC Graduate Employee Organization (GEO) files intent to strike: GEO has set April 18 strike date.
  • The racial consequences of underfunding public higher education: UICUF’s Committee on Political Education (COPE) is hosting a talk by Laura Hamilton on April 20, 3:30
  • Nominations being accepted for John Shuler and Janet Smith Annual Awards: UICUF annually recognizes academic units that have demonstrated extraordinary achievements in shared governance and/or in advancing academic freedom with the John Shuler Award. This year we will begin an annual recognition of extraordinary faculty organizing with the Janet Smith Award. Nominations for both awards are now open.
  • AFT seeking NTT faculty to complete survey: The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), with which we are affiliated, wants to understand the current work and personal life experiences of NTT faculty against the backdrop of uncertainty brought about by the coronavirus and attacks on academic freedom. Link to survey is below. 

Dear Colleagues,

UIC GEO Files Intent to Strike
Last week 97% of participating GEO members voted to authorize their Bargaining Committee to call a strike if the committee concludes that a strike is necessary to achieve a fair contract. Following the most recent bargaining session on April 7, GEO filed the legally required intent-to-strike notice with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, allowing their Bargaining Committee to call a strike starting on April 18. We will share details next week on continuing issues of contention. We will also share how faculty can act in solidarity with GEO, and what your own legal rights and responsibilities are in the event of a GEO strike.

The Racial Consequences of Underfunding Public Higher Education
The UICUF Committee on Political Education (COPE) invites you to a Zoom conversation with Laura Hamilton, the author of Broke: The Racial Consequences of Underfunding Public Universities. The event will take place on Wednesday April 20 from 3:30-5:00 pm. In Broke, Hamilton uses the model of the “new university”—large public universities serving predominantly minority and economically marginalized students—to examine the relationship between the defunding of public higher education and the burdens being placed on students today. Her work ultimately suggests how we can break the cycle of austerity in public higher education.

The event is open to all UICUF and COPE members. You can access the event here.

The COPE is the political action committee of UICUF. Its goals include educating members on political issues around public higher education, endorsing pro-public education and pro-labor politicians, and supporting legislation that benefits public higher education students and faculty. The COPE is funded by the voluntary donations of UICUF members. To become a monthly supporter of the COPE (for as little as $1/month), please click here. If you have questions about the COPE or would like to become a board member, please contact COPE chair Jeffrey Kessler (jeffc.kessler@gmail.com). 

John Shuler and Janet Smith Awards
The UICUF Executive Board plans to present three awards on April 29:

  • 2020-2021 John Shuler Award for Shared Governance and Academic Freedom
  • 2021-2022 John Shuler Award for Shared Governance and Academic Freedom
  • 2021-2022 Janet Smith Organizing Award

To determine a list of candidates, we are asking members to nominate academic units (for the Shuler Award) and individuals (for the Smith Award) by sending a one-paragraph statement about activities and accomplishments that merit recognition via email to Jeff Edwards (UICUFJeff@gmail.com) by April 12. For the Shuler Award, please make nominations based on accomplishments during either the 2020-2021 or 2021-2022 academic year.

UICUF’s John Shuler Award for Shared Governance and Academic Freedom is an annual award to a department or college that demonstrates its commitment, through action, to truly democratic shared governance and academic freedom. The union sees the Shuler award as a way to sustain our memory of John and to continue the work he had planned for his future, encouraging our faculty to pursue these goals in his spirit and his honor.

John Shuler was a beloved member of the UICUF community. Doggedly involved with the union from its beginning, he was a tireless member of our bargaining committee and, at the time of his untimely death in 2016, served as treasurer. He was also energetically involved with the UIC Senate. For 23 years, John was a mainstay at the UIC library, responsible for government information/documents.

UICUF’s Janet Smith Organizing Award will be an annual award in recognition of a person or persons who made extraordinary contributions to faculty organizing. The union sees the Janet Smith Award as a way to sustain our memory of Janet, organizer extraordinaire.

Janet Smith was a charter member of UICUF, served on our first bargaining committee, and then served as president of UICUF from 2014 until her untimely death in 2022. Janet’s teaching, research, and community service focused on equity issues in housing. Her research and outreach activities were regularly conducted in partnership with community organizations and other community stakeholders. As a labor leader, she championed the UIC faculty members with the most precarious and vulnerable positions at the university. In her scholarship, and in her organizing on and off campus, she was a brilliant builder of worker and community power.

AFT Survey of NTT Faculty
The AFT seeks to follow up on its widely cited 2020 study, Army of Temps, by conducting a 2022 survey of NTT faculty against the backdrop of COVID and increasing attacks on academic freedom. We encourage our NTT colleagues to participate in this survey by clicking here.

Solidarity,

UIC United Faculty Leadership

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31 Mar Bridge-to-Faculty Scholars Seek Inclusion, Farewell to Tony Floriani 

  • Bridge-to Faculty Scholars: Bridge-to-Faculty Scholars and UICUF supporters testified before the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board on March 24 to win union recognition and inclusion in our non-tenure track bargaining unit.
     
  • Tony Floriani: UICUF staff organizer Tony Floriani is moving to a position with the Illinois Federation of Teachers after working for UICUF for five years.
     
  • Hold the Date: Rally at University Hall at noon, April 29, to honor Janet Smith, cheer on our Bargaining Committee as they begin bargaining our next contract, and recognize end-of-year UICUF awardees who have made extraordinary contributions to our union this year.

Dear Colleagues,

Our Bargaining Committee worked through Spring Break and will be intensifying its work finalizng contract proposals in advance of an initial bargaining session with university administrators. We are in the process of setting a date in the last half of April and will be able to announce that soon. Our current contract expires in August. In the meantime, we have two pieces of news we want to share with you. 

Bridge to Faculty
With support from more than 75% of the 29 Bridge to Faculty (B2F) scholars, UICUF filed a petition to allow B2F faculty to join our union on February 23. Our petition went to a hearing before the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board on March 24. UICUF witnesses–including B2F scholars, NTT faculty, and tenured faculty who mentor B2Fs–did an excellent job establishing that B2F scholars’ working conditions and qualifications are on par with various NTT and TT faculty throughout the university.

Because of labor board rules that expedite the timeline for resolving majority interest petitions, we expect a decision in mid- to late June. All of the scholars in the first B2F cohort have been offered positions as Assistant Professors to start in Fall 2022. The scholars in both cohorts are an impressive group, and we are excited to officially welcome them into our union family one way or another.  

Farewell to Tony Floriani
Sadly, we must say goodbye to our stalwart comrade and super-dedicated staff organizer, Tony Floriani. Tony will be moving on to a terrific opportunity as a field service director with the Illinois Federation of Teachers. 

Tony started working with UICUF nearly five years ago in September, 2017. He came to us as a seasoned organizer and consistently brought abundant energy, steadfast commitment, and a challenging vision to our collective endeavors.

Tony began his journey as a union staffer in 2012, fresh off the energy of the Occupy protests.  His first labor job was as an organizer in central Texas, working with PK-12 teachers in non-union districts. In 2015, he moved to Florida to work with higher education locals including University of South Florida and St. Petersburg College. During his two years in Florida, he was sent on a campaign to organize grad workers at University of Chicago, where he met his wife, Veronica—a scholar and labor organizer herself. Within six months, Tony moved to Chicago and joined the staff of our union.

Tony has done a wide array of work for UICUF. Most prominently, he has written our weekly communications to the membership.  Much of his work, however, was behind-the-scenes, as he responded quickly to a multitude of queries from members, sought to ensure that our membership lists were as up-to-date as possible, and provided extremely valuable quantitative analysis for grievances. (Those are just several examples among many!)

Therese Quinn, our Vice-President for Tenure-Track Faculty, notes how much she will miss Tony. She especially values how Tony “brought together deep knowledge and organization and helped UICUF set up important systems. For example, Tony’s weekly updates on union matters have been indispensable reading for me, and there’s no going back! Now that we are used to regular and informative communications, the union will be able to build on Tony’s framework to continue that vital connection with our membership.” 

Acting President Aaron Krall adds: “among Tony’s many contributions to our union, I have always valued his ability to critically read situations. Whether it’s staking out a contrary position in a committee meeting, interpreting cryptic administrative statements, or encouraging us to push harder at the bargaining table, his experienced perspective has consistently helped me see the larger picture. I’m glad he’ll still be on our team at the IFT.”

Tony himself has made it clear to us that leaving UICUF was a difficult decision, and that he will indeed still very much be on our team. He leaves us with these inspiring words: “I’m proud of my ten years of service in the union movement, but I have particularly been impressed with UIC United Faculty for embodying so many of the best aspects of unionism. As a relatively new union, there will be a variety of opportunities to shape both your institution, UIC, and your own organization, UICUF, in profound ways. While there will be challenges ahead as well, I’m confident you’ll meet and overcome them with the dynamism I’ve come to expect of this organization and its leaders.” 

Tony promises to stay in touch. Please feel free to send along your goodbyes, good wishes, and statements of solidarity at tfloriani@ift-aft.org

April 29 Rally at University Hall
Please mark your calendar to join your union colleagues on the last day of classes, Friday, April 29, at noon, outside University Hall. We will honor Janet Smith, cheer on our bargaining team, and present the annual John Shuler Shared Governance and Academic Freedom Award and the inaugural Janet Smith Organizing Award. Details on these awards, and on how to nominate people for them, is forthcoming.

Solidarity,

UIC United Faculty Leadership

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21 Mar Member Meeting Recap, Bargaining Platform 

  • Meeting Recap: We held our first hybrid in-person/zoom meeting since the pandemic began at Hull House, with over 75 participants, a floor nomination for Treasurer, and reports from our various active committees like COPE, Health & Safety, and Bargaining.


  • Bargaining Platform: Our bargaining platform was unanimously approved, citing three primary areas of interest: 1) Investing in Support & Security for Faculty, 2) Prioritizing Accountability & Care in the Workplace, 3) Amplifying Faculty Voice in Shared Governance.


  • Delivering our Demand to Bargain: After the meeting, a group of 20 faculty and campus allies delivered our demand to bargain a new contract to the Chancellor & Provost, officially initiating our contract negotiations. We will now work to schedule our first bargaining session, likely in April.


  • Standing With UIC GEO: UICUF joined our grad worker colleagues at an information picket on Wednesday to highlight issues they are still fighting for after a year of their own contract negotiations, including fee elimination for grad workers, health coverage, and improving protections against bullying, harassment and discrimination. 

Dear Colleagues,

UICUF has had quite a busy week! Our members supported our grad worker colleagues at an informational picket at Student Center East, held our first in-person (and hybrid) member meeting since the start of the pandemic, approved our union’s bargaining platform, and delivered our demand to start bargaining with the administration. 

Our First In-Person Member Meeting Since 2019

Out of an abundance of caution, UICUF has not held an in-person member meeting since 2019, and while COVID is still a concern, we felt it was important to kick off our bargaining season with the option to meet face-to-face (even if those faces are masked!). We continued to host people via zoom as well, and while the hybrid interface presented some challenges, we had a great meeting with over 75 members in attendance! Members also participated in our first ever floor-nomination of an executive board candidate, Michael Scott, for Treasurer, and we approved our official bargaining platform, setting the priorities for our contract negotiations. 

Bargaining Platform

With our contract expiring in August, and plans to begin negotiations as soon as April, our Bargaining Team presented the platform on which our efforts will focus. The assembled members unanimously approved the following priorities for negotiation:

  • Investing in Support & Security for Faculty
    • Protect workloads and recognize all the work faculty do
    • Pay faculty salaries that stay ahead of inflation and reward merit
    • Provide physical & technology infrastructure to support successful work
    • Ensure job security & access to opportunities for NTT faculty
    • Strengthen support for mentorship and faculty career advancement


  • Prioritizing Accountability & Care in the Workplace
    • Protect all community members from bullying, harassment, and discrimination
    • Define a fair discipline process for all faculty
    • Provide sufficient disability & mental health resources for students, faculty, & staff
    • Offer non-punitive dispute resolution options
    • Create a streamlined and functional grievance process


  • Amplifying Faculty Voice in Shared Governance
    • Ensure all faculty’s right to participate in shared governance
    • Establish specific governance processes at unit and college levels
    • Make the university budget transparent and give faculty a voice in budgeting
    • Guarantee faculty voice in allocation of merit raises 

Each of these items relates directly to issues our members have expressed over the last year, either through our bargaining survey, our listening tours through each college, and through our day-to-day interactions between members and union representatives. Our bargaining team is proud to have crafted an array of contract proposals that are driven by robust member engagement, and responsive to the issues you’ve told us matter most. The team continues to encourage members to reach out (email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com), and to look out for opportunities to participate in bargaining and public actions in support of our negotiations. 

Demand to Bargain Delivered

The first such action, which officially initiates our bargaining process with the administration, is the demand to bargain. Immediately following our meeting, 20 members and campus allies came together to deliver that demand to the Chancellor and Provosts’ offices. This puts the administration on notice that we hope to begin meeting with them ASAP to start discussing our next contract. We hope to meet with their team as soon as this April.  

UIC GEO Information Picket

UIC GEO began the mediation process in their own contract negotiations this week, with significant distance between their positions and those of the administration on several key articles, like pay, fee elimination, protections against bullying/harassment/discrimination, and 9-month appointments. UICUF members joined them on Wednesday for an information picket outside of Student Center East to highlight these critical issues, knowing that a fair and respectful contract for our grad worker colleagues will set the tone for our own negotiations down the line. We will keep you informed as they continue their contract campaign, which has been ongoing for over a year now. 

Solidarity

UIC United Faculty

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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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