06 May Victory on PD Funds, Admin Declines to Negotiate on Other Issues
- UICUF has won a victory on Professional Development funds – Admin agreed in writing to release travel funds for other uses, and to roll over unused travel funds into the 20-21 Academic Year!
- Labor Relations is now saying they will not move on any other impact bargaining issues, perhaps closing the door to further productive negotiations.
- UICUF is committed to continuing a productive dialogue if possible, and escalation remains an option if meaningful negotiations are not forthcoming.
Union Victory on Professional Development Funds
UICUF has been negotiating around professional development funds since March, primarily asking that the funds earmarked for travel be released for broad PD use, and that unused funds be rolled over for use in future academic years. We have now received notice that the Administration has agreed to both of these demands. Per Provost Poser, the following has been posted to the university’s somewhat buried COVID-19 page on policy changes, and will be communicated to Heads and Deans:
According to the contract, the amounts provided for research and/or professional development are $900 for TT and $600 for NTT faculty. Faculty may seek reimbursement for professional development expenses that involve purchasing equipment, particularly to allow them to teach online more effectively. I have told the deans this and asked them to ensure their department heads and chairs are aware. The other question that has come up is the use of travel funds for both TT and NTT faculty. There are 2 issues:
- Because of the pandemic and the inability to travel, some faculty want the option to use travel funds for professional development related to online teaching, whether that is for equipment or something else.
- If there are travel funds left over from FY20, faculty are requesting that they can carry over any remaining travel funds to next year, since travel is impossible right now.
In light of the unique situation we find ourselves in, we are approving these uses of travel funds on a one-time basis. Thus, for example, the ability to carry over travel funds will only be allowed this one time (from FY20 to FY21) and may be used for professional development expenses as stated above through June 30, 2021. On July 1, 2021, we will revert to the provisions of the contract as written, i.e. travel funds may not be carried forward and can only be used for travel, as stated in the contract.
In short, you can now keep your $600 travel funds to apply toward expenses in the 2020-2021 academic year, and all PD funds will be opened to broad professional development and remote teaching enhancement uses until June 30th, 2021. Please check with your department for pre-approval of funds to ensure your intended use is covered, and we encourage you to contact us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com if you encounter any problems using your PD funds. That said, we will also continue to push the administration to cover the cost of all expenses related to online teaching–that is an administrative expense, not one related to professional development.
Admin Refuses to Make Any Further Agreements
While Labor Relations has avoided language directly stating they won’t negotiate further, they have said that they will not make further changes concerning our impact bargaining issues. This isn’t surprising from an administration that only recently acknowledged their obligation to bargain. They continue to ignore the fact that they are making changes affecting our contracts that legally must be bargained over, and instead prefer to label our proposals as unearned “enhancements.”
This dismissive attitude leaves key questions on the table, notably on issues of faculty retention and union representation in decision-making. On the former, they have chosen to prevaricate or provocatively hint at slashing budgets, outright rejecting any concern for NTT faculty whose contracts are expiring on May 15th and who may soon thereafter be cut off from health insurance. On the latter, they have indicated that they do not at this time intend to add a union representative to the campus committee handling COVID-19 issues. These are not satisfactory responses, and we are now considering options away from the bargaining table to encourage the Administration to negotiate productively.
If you are interested in getting involved with planning and promoting actions around impact bargaining and the many critical issues facing us during this crisis, please email us at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com
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