Setting the record straight

I would like to make the record perfectly clear. Chancellor Rita Cheng claims that the union didn’t meet at all with the administration over the summer (last Saturday’s Southern Illinoisan) and that the FA Bargaining Team was unavailable for meetings over the summer (Wednesday’s Daily Egyptian). This is false. During the summer of 2011, the FA Bargaining Team offered many days in June and July to meet with the Board Team. In fact, both teams did meet in July, and I am concerned that the Chancellor doesn’t seem to know about these meetings.

The FA Bargaining Team consists of dedicated Faculty volunteers who maintain a full academic workload. After reviewing their schedules and their commitments to their students and research for the Fall semester, the FA Bargaining Team offered ten hours each week to meet with the Board Team, including evening hours. The Board Team agreed to only two to four morning hours each week.

The teams have met in 40 sessions and for many hours since April 2010. As we have stated before, the issue is no longer the number of meetings nor the number of hours. What is important if we are to avert a crisis is the quality of the negotiations. The FA team has always been ready to make arrangements to meet more often this semester and the FA applauds the Administration’s newfound interest in increasing the pace of negotiations. Along with an increase in the quantity of negotiation sessions, we challenge the Board team to demonstrate the willingness and authority to engage in productive give and take discussions.

The Chancellor indicated in her September 21, 2011 message to the University community that it is not her intention “to negotiate through the media or through this forum” (even though that is precisely what she is doing). If she wants to engage in bargaining, we welcome and encourage her presence at the bargaining table.

In the meantime, the accuracy of the Chancellor’s comments can be verified by reviewing the Board’s imposed terms ( – not an agreement, despite the document name; layoff language is in Article 19). There have been no substantial changes in the Board’s official positions at the bargaining table since then. I encourage each faculty member to compare the Board’s position to the Faculty Association proposals and to make their own judgment (details can be found at

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