19 Mar UIC Admin Punts on Reopening Concerns, Calls Halt to Bargaining
- UIC Admin Side Steps Reopening Concerns: Chancellor Amiridis issued this statement in response to our open letter on reopening concerns, carefully avoiding addressing the problematic decision-making process on reopening, or any other specific issues raised.
- Labor Relations Halts Bargaining: In a separate (and illegal) move, Labor Relations has signalled their unwillingness to negotiate further over COVID and reopening, pending results of upcoming Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) hearings on charges filed by UICUF.
- ULPs and Illegal Actions: UICUF filed ULP charges last summer over unilateral decisions made by admin that affect our contract. They are repeating those illegal patterns in their approach to planning for this fall.
- UICUF Demands a Return to Bargaining in Good Faith: We are disappointed with admin’s protracted approach to bargaining, but we continue to believe it is the only appropriate venue to address ongoing effects on our members’ working conditions.
- COVID VACCINE UPDATE: Chicago is on track to start phase 1C of vaccine distribution, which includes postsecondary faculty, on 3/29. Vaccine appointments will be offered via MyChart, and both the administration and UICUF encourage you to set up accounts.
- COVID SAFETY AND REOPENING SURVEY ENDS 6PM TODAY: You still have until 6pm today to complete our Safety and Reopening Survey. The results will be presented at our member meeting, 3:30pm, 3/31. Zoom link to follow closer to the date.
Last week we sent an open letter to the Chancellor, asking him to address concerns around the decision-making process that led to an announcement on reopening classrooms in the fall. We also expressed concerns over the implications of those apparent plans, in particular the impact of shifting most classes to what looks like a Hybrid/HyFlex model of course delivery. Hybrid course delivery means presenting course content simultaneously to students both in person and via remote learning, while Flexible models are those that allow students to choose how to attend class while offering the same learning outcomes regardless of in-person or remote venues.
This week, we received a response that is, unfortunately, quite disappointing. We can appreciate the optimistic approach of hoping most faculty will be vaccinated by fall, and that the university can return safely to some level of in-person instruction. But hope is not a plan, and optimism is not an explanation for how these plans were made. UICUF continues to hope that the university will include faculty voices in reopening plans, but since that does not appear to be on the agenda, we are and will continue exploring other options to advocate for our members and the university as a whole.
Labor Relations Halts Bargaining Process
One major avenue we have pursued since the beginning of the pandemic has been collective bargaining. This is, UICUF believes, the only appropriate venue for negotiating plans that will impact our members’ working conditions, which are contractually protected. Unfortunately again, admin has not engaged with this process in an earnest and collaborative way. Indeed the administration apparently plans to celebrate a year of obstruction with an indefinite halting of ongoing negotiations.
Labor Relations is now saying that they have no interest in further bargaining sessions until after the resolution of Unfair Labor Practice hearings set for later this Spring (though the proceedings may continue into the summer, or even beyond). These ULP charges are, perhaps ironically, themselves a direct result of the administration’s pattern of obstructing bargaining and taking action on issues under negotiation without reaching agreements with the union.
To be clear, refusing to bargain by insisting future negotiations are contingent on a judicial process, and refusing to render agreements on changes to contractually protected working conditions into writing, are illegal actions by the administration. UICUF is demanding that the administration return to the table in good faith and finalize an agreement–which was making slow, but steady progress up to this point.
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