Safety First: Demand a Safe Fall Return Now!

24 Jul Safety First: Demand a Safe Fall Return Now!


  • Sign Our Statement: As we’ve mentioned previously, we have a statement out, vetted by health and academic freedom experts in our membership, advocating faculty discretion to opt out of in person classes if you believe you are at risk.
  • IFT Higher Ed Locals Advocate Remote Classes: Union faculty across the state agree remote learning is the prudent choice for a safe return to school this semester.
  • Bargaining Continues Next Week: Admin is expected to return to the bargaining table next Friday with a draft Memorandum of Understanding on issues under negotiation. If they follow through, this will be a major move toward concluding negotiations.

Statement on Safe Return-to-Campus and Faculty Autonomy
As we’ve mentioned in prior messages, we are still collecting signatures on our statement on Returning to Campus this Fall. The statement foregrounds the need for faculty autonomy in defining their own risk relative to the COVID pandemic when deciding whether to return to in-person classes. It also echoes the University Senate’s statement advocating the freedom of faculty to deliver courses in whatever format best suits their class needs, based on their own professional judgement.

Signing onto this statement is an important action to let the UIC administration know you are serious about demanding your rights to discretion, both in terms of your personal safety and your pedagogy as an academic professional. Please sign the statement today!

IFT Higher Ed Locals’ Press Conference
In a press event yesterday, IFT’s higher education locals launched a new report on Best Practices for returning to campus this Fall, which is based in the most up-to-date science and intended to provide all of higher ed institutions in Illinois clear and uniform guidance. Ultimately, the call is for remote learning. If face-to-face classes are required, it should be subject to the faculty member’s decision, based on a thorough risk assessment. Besides classrooms, Kevin O’Brien, UICUF Library rep, discussed specific concerns about plans now underway to re-open UIC libraries and the real health risks students, staff, and faculty might face.

Impact Bargaining at a Critical Point
While we’re far from agreement on many key items, we expect a significant step forward next week, when we’ve been told by Labor Relations to expect a draft Memorandum of Understanding, documenting in writing our agreements thus far. You may recall that, to date, the administration has fiercely resisted putting anything in writing, and has lately tried to narrow the scope of negotiations to how a $1 million dollar payout for summer prep work is distributed.

We’ve rejected, on advisement from our membership, the notion that these negotiations are fundamentally about money, and continue to insist on agreements around campus safety, faculty autonomy, and reappointment of faculty. While we expect to reach an agreement around proposed payouts, we cannot ignore the administration’s silence on basic rights like faculty discretion to opt-out from in person teaching if it would endanger themselves or those close to them.

Once again, we are strongly encouraging you to support our bargaining efforts by signing our Return to Campus statement, and by submitting testimonials if you have them on how a forced return to in-person teaching would affect you and your students.


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