14 Oct Rep Assembly Recap, Mutual Aid, & Contact Tracing Committee
- Union Members on Contact Tracing Committee: We are pleased to report that the administration has reached out to solicit union participation on a committee on contact tracing, to which we will send two delegates. This is a key point on campus safety, and we look forward to joining this important work.
- Mutual Aid Fund: UICUF began a mutual aid fund last year for members in financial need. The fund raised $15k and distributed more than $12k in aid to members not reappointed during the pandemic. The fund has now been overhauled to aid any member suffering financial hardship. Members in need can email us to apply for support.
- Rep Assembly Recap: Our Rep Assembly discussed the ongoing importance of new member outreach, and also unanimously resolved that the union will support faculty rights to determine the modes in which they teach, be it in person, remote, synchronous, asynchronous, etc.
At this time we’re pleased to say that the UIC Administration has reached out to us to participate in a committee on contact tracing. This marks a refreshing shift from last year, when members were forced to petition and saturate then-Provost Poser’s office with inquiries to get a union member onto the newly formed COVID taskforce. Issues of campus health and safety are not only of great interest to our members, but are also directly in line with a core role of any union: to protect our members from unnecessary risk and harm. We will be sending two delegates to this new group.
Mutual Aid Fund
Last year, amidst the great uncertainty of the pandemic going into the summer, UIC United Faculty formed a mutual aid fund for our members. This decision was made to address concerns that some members, if not swiftly renewed before their appointments ended in May (a bureaucratic quirk of some visiting contracts), would lose their health insurance during the worst health crisis in recent history. In addition to UICUF getting the university to extend coverage for some individuals, the Mutual Aid fund raised $15,484, and distributed $12,100, principally to members who had not been renewed, and were concerned about being able to cover basic needs like health insurance.
Just last week, the Mutual Aid Fund was given a new mandate, to maintain a fund that can be made available to any member experiencing serious financial hardship, to pay for basic needs like rent, groceries, utilities, and so on. While these cases are rare, the pandemic has proven that the need is very real. If you are a member suffering a personal financial crisis, you can review our criteria for aid, and email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com to apply for consideration.
Last week our Representative Assembly met and discussed key issues important to our union membership. New member outreach continues to be our top priority for the moment, and we are always interested in working with current members to reach out to colleagues in your departments. If you want to help, union staffers are ready and able to work with you to identify potential members, and approach them about joining the union. Union membership and active member participation are the most important tools at our disposal when we approach the bargaining table this coming spring semester, so please let us know if you are able to help!
The Assembly also voted unanimously on a resolution on the rights of faculty to determine modes of teaching:
“Faculty alone–individually, and collectively through shared governance–always have the right to determine modes of teaching, including in the context of the COVID-19 epidemic. Specifically, questions regarding teaching in person or online, or teaching synchronously or asynchronously, or teaching in a hyflex or hybrid mode, belong to the faculty alone to determine. Faculty of course need to accommodate individual students who present formal accommodation letters from the Disability Resource Center. Furthermore, faculty may have their own needs for accommodation, including needs not currently recognized by university policy, such as minimizing public contacts because of being caretakers for vulnerable people in their households.”
Though we understand the desire on the part of the university administration to move more classes in-person in the spring, we continue to believe that course delivery is an aspect of academic freedom that must be honored, and we will support faculty exercising these rights individually and through shared governance.
UIC United Faculty
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