UICUF Offers Warm Welcome Back to Faculty and Students
Last week, UIC United Faculty greeted the newest members of our academic community. Our President, Janet Smith, spoke to new faculty at the campus orientation event about the history and ongoing importance of the union, and members from every college were present to personally welcome our new colleagues to the university. Meanwhile, at the annual Comp Camp for faculty teaching first year writing and composition, new faculty were eager to engage with our members about the work of the union. Between the two events, 25 new faculty became members on the spot!
To continue the warm welcome, there will be a Back-to-School Picnic for UICUF members and their families this coming Sunday, 9/2. We will usher in the new school year with a fun-and-sun event, and hope our new colleagues can join us!
And we haven’t forgotten the other new faces at the university. UICUF will be offering students free ice cream at the Student Involvement Fair in the East Campus Quad, along with info on the unions work, and how it affects their education. Our working environment is their learning environment. We strongly encourage UICUF members to come meet students at this fun event next Wednesday, 9/5.
University of Illinois System Greets Faculty With Frozen Salaries
In contrast to the hand of friendship extended by the union to faculty as we begin the new semester, Labor Relations has chosen to freeze faculty out of this year’s campus wage program. They erroneously claim that they can’t give us our merit raises during contract bargaining, referencing labor law meant to protect the sanctity of those negotiations.
What they don’t say is that it’s acceptable and common practice for groups engaged in contract negotiations to waive these “status quo” rules at times for the benefit of the employees. This is allowed, to ensure that employers can’t leverage the withholding of customary or universal perks, like yearly raises or bonuses, against organized employees negotiating a contract.
UICUF has met directly with Labor Relations representatives no less than 6 times this summer, yet not once was it mentioned that the university planned to hold back distributions of merit raises to its faculty. The fact that this was not discussed with the union directly, despite ample opportunity, tells us all we need to know: withholding our earned merit increases is a strategy to build leverage against the union in negotiations.
We fully anticipate that they will come back with this already insufficient 2% raise offer at the bargaining table later, hoping that our membership will be frustrated enough to just accept it. We will not, however, let this gross manipulation of status quo rules deter us for fighting to get the raises our members truly deserve.
Beyond Campus Wage: The Real Story Behind Stagnant Wages at UIC
Looking beyond intention, to the ultimate substance of the salary program, the 2% salary program offered by President Killeen for 2018-2019 is an insult. It is in no way connected to the financial reality of living in Chicago, and is below the nearly 3% annual inflation expected this year. But this is not news for most faculty at UIC. Historically, this program has lagged behind inflation, and certainly below the expectations of what experienced professionals should be earning in an expensive urban area like Chicago. And it surely does not help faculty catch up after two years of flat wages from politically frozen budgets. Plain and simple Faculty at UIC deserve more!
This all comes in the shadow of a half-billion dollar budget deal struck with Gov. Rauner to help build a highly questionable new campus in the Loop. Of course, just a few months ago, Rauner seemed to forget that the University of Illinois system already has a campus in Chicago (Audio clip at 3:45).
When you look at the whole picture, it’s easy to see that Rauner, his appointees on the U of I board, and their representatives in Labor Relations don’t really care about UIC (when they remember we exist). That is why UICUF will be fighting for an investment in human capital this year, an investment that will ensure the recruitment and retention of the top-notch educators and researchers that our students and Chicagoans deserve.
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Our next contract bargaining session is Wednesday, September 12th. In the interim, we will continue to post weekly articles on topics of critical interest to our membership.
For the duration of the bargaining process, we will be issuing periodic updates via email, facebook, twitter, and here on our website. We strongly encourage everyone to like and follow us on social media. With your support, we can make UIC an even better place to work and learn!