- Membership Meeting Recap: Key themes from our meeting (slides can be viewed here) included confronting racism and violence in the UIC community, a bargaining update, NTT job security, and a strategy for ensuring campus safety through benchmarks and enforcement this fall.
- Survey Results: We have produced a report on the results of our Safety and Reopening Survey. Takeaways include a deficit of trust that UIC is doing all it can to meet safety needs, and concern over preparedness for and efficacy of Hybrid Classes.
This week we held our Spring Membership meeting, where we discussed a number of key issues, from the need to remain vigilant and active in confronting racism in our community, to promoting NTT job security as fall planning gets underway. We also discussed bargaining, which has halted as the administration (illegally) refuses to return to the table pending outcomes of hearings on Unfair Labor Practice charges we’ve filed against them. Last but not least, we reviewed the findings of our Campus Safety and Reopening survey, which garnered 486 responses, about a third of our bargaining unit.
NTT Job Security
While some of the concern over budget cuts appears to be easing with further aid from the recently passed American Rescue Plan in Congress, UICUF is far from satisfied that NTT jobs are as secure as they could or should be. We still must address a legacy of some units not providing timely notice of renewals and a general resistance to transparency in decision-making, both in terms of individual renewals and overall staffing levels. Members agreed — and stepped up — when asked to stand in support of our NTT members without whom UIC could not function. Support from TT faculty has been, and will be especially important. If you would like to volunteer to help, we especially need testimonials on the indispensable work these faculty are doing in your own units. Email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.
As a reminder, despite the administration refusing to negotiate actual agreements through impact bargaining, we know that our work in this arena has produced many positive outcomes for our members. These include tenure roll-backs, IP protections, and expanded use of PD funds. We continue to push to make these agreements grievable, and to extend them at least for as long as pandemic conditions remain in place at UIC.
It is also important to point out that while we formed a bargaining team just for the purpose of impact bargaining, the next round of full contract bargaining is just around the corner, with our current contract expiring 8/15/2022.
Per our Bargaining Chair, Aaron Krall, the timeline for bargaining our next contract looks something like this:
○ Now: Assemble a bargaining committee
○ Fall 2021: Survey members and begin drafting proposals
○ Spring 2022: Demand to bargain
○ Summer 2022: Bargain a new contract
So if you are interested in helping with bargaining in any aspect, please message us at UICUnitedfaculty@gmail.com. As in the past, we will build a diverse and inclusive team to meet at the table, and can always use more support behind the scenes with research, communications, etc, if you wish to contribute in different ways.
Survey Results and Benchmark Proposals
Our Benchmarks Committee put out a survey last month to measure how faculty feel about their risk factors, campus safety measures, and plans to teach hybrid/hyflex classes. The results are in, and we have a full analysis here.
The results give a strong impression that faculty are concerned about reopening plans, both in terms of safety and pedagogy. The following highlight some of the most revealing outcomes from the survey:
- 89% anticipate returning to campus with an average of 6 classes each. This could mean as many as 2300 classes meeting at least partially in-person this fall.
- Fewer than half (47%) are confident that UIC is doing enough to make the campus safe.
- Only a slim majority (52%) have been consulted on moving to hybrid classes.
- Less than half (47%) are confident in teaching hybrid/hyflex classes, and 40% do not believe hybrid/hyflex models are effective.
- 29-40% of faculty surveyed have underlying health conditions putting them at high risk from COVID. 28-32% say they live with or care for someone with COVID risk factors.
- Only 27% of faculty feel that the current process to opt-out of in-person work is reasonable.
In order to address these concerns, UICUF is currently developing benchmarks to ensure a safe and effective re-opening of campus. Based on an instant poll at the membership meeting, there is broad support for UICUF to independently authorize an expert review of safety conditions at UIC and develop a stakeholder committee that will hold the university accountable to safety claims for the sake of both workers and students.
We thank everyone who was able to make it to the meeting this week, and encourage anyone who couldn’t be there to message us if you want to comment or get involved in the above endeavors.
UIC United Faculty
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!