From the beginning, Administration negotiators have been solely interested in seeing our economic proposals, regarding raises, development funds, etc. Our strategy of bringing forward noneconomic items first has forced them to discuss issues that our faculty members resoundingly endorsed, but, it seems, hasn’t made them take those concerns seriously.
Instead, these discussions have revealed that the Administration has no intention of addressing any substantive issues. Despite it costing them little or nothing to, for example, commit to greater transparency in workload and discipline policies, Administration has consistently chosen to stonewall. They even eventually dropped the pretense of wanting to weigh these proposals on fundamental workplace rights against the cost of our salaries. The message is clear: they simply won’t give faculty anything they don’t have to, no matter how reasonable or justified.
On Tuesday, we put Administration’s intransigence to the test one more time, now with an audience. We were disappointed to find that, even with a gallery of faculty from around the university watching, they couldn’t muster so much as a token gesture toward building a better contract. Unfortunately, our bargaining team is already all too familiar with this dismissive attitude toward faculty priorities.
Given the lackluster response at the bargaining table, and a questionable negotiating history in general, we increasingly suspect that there will be no serious negotiation without serious action on our part. Remember how UIUC Grads were forced to strike this year over something as fundamental as protecting fee waivers? Or how we ourselves were forced to strike in 2014 to get our first contract?
The Administration thus far is categorically unwilling to discuss proposals that cost them nothing. Even the UIC Provost has signaled skepticism over basic protections, like an accountable process to review academic freedom violations. They can’t even agree to extend non-discrimination rights to non-citizens. How can we expect any better behavior when real money is on the table?
Full Steam Ahead
At this point, in the name of moving forward, we have decided to proceed with our comprehensive proposal, including all economic articles. We do this not because we feel it will improve negotiating conditions, but because it is a necessary step as we plan to bring further pressure to bear.
The economic proposals we’ve introduced include, but are not limited to:
- Raises to help us catch up and keep up after years of salary stagnation
- Accessible PD funds that go the distance when applying to academic conferences
- Expanded commitments to maintain facilities, policies, and staffing befitting of an R1 university
We will, of course, continue to push for robust improvements to workplace rights. As we’ve said before, UIC faculty deserve improvements to working conditions AND raises that make good on years of weak salary growth. We will not support an agreement that trades one for the other, and while we are a long way off from a potential work stoppage, UICUF has not ruled out any action which may be necessary to achieve these meaningful improvements to our contract.
Our next bargaining session is Monday, 11/5, 2-5pm (location TBD). Send a strong message to the Administration by wearing your union colors in solidarity, and attending the session if you are able. We anticipate that economic proposals will be under discussion at this meeting. Email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com to RSVP!
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Until we win a fair contract, we will continue 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!
UIC United Faculty Bargaining Team
Aaron Krall [Co-Chair], Senior Lecturer, English | Kevin Whyte [Co-Chair], Professor, Math, Statistics and Computer Science | Kheir Al-Kodmany, Professor, Urban Planning and Policy | Xochitl Bada, Associate Professor, Latin American and Latino Studies | Joaquin Chavez, Associate Professor, History | Jim Drown, Senior Lecturer, English | Chris Kanich, Assistant Professor, Computer Science | Paul Pieper, Associate Professor, Economics | Paul Preissner, Associate Professor, Architecture | Laurie Quinn, Clinical Professor, Biobehavioral Science | Jeffrey Sklansky, Associate Professor, History | Charitianne Williams, Senior Lecturer, English | Milos Zefran, Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering