Open Letter to SIUC Community

Dear Colleagues,

One of our faculty colleagues, Professor Michael Eichholz, is calling for the decertification of the Faculty Association, removing its authority to negotiate for faculty on campus. While we know that you are being bombarded by messages, as leaders of the association Professor Eichholz hopes to eliminate, we feel it incumbent upon us to respond to Professor Eichholz’s proposal.

Professor Eichholz signs his messages “Faculty for Sensible Negotiations,” but he has thus far presented no practical alternative for completing negotiations. Professor’s Eichholz’s current proposal is to assign the Faculty Senate vast new duties and give it a whole new status without any prior consultation with the Faculty Senate. Nor has he addressed or even recognized, at least in his public statements, the numerous questions of principle, practice, and logistics that this proposal raises.

While it remains unclear what Professor Eichholz is for, it is very clear what he is against, and he has made two serious charges against the Faculty Association.  Professor Eichholz asserts that the FA and its supporters have created a hostile atmosphere on campus and vilified individual members of the administration and the faculty, and that the administration has imposed terms on us because the FA has made unrealistic and unreasonable demands at the bargaining table.

In all of our communications, the FA has worked to avoid personal attacks. And in the negotiating sessions themselves, the discussion has sometimes been intense but has been consistently civil. But when we believe that Chancellor Cheng has been misleading about our position or about the facts, we have said as much, in clear language. On her own part, Chancellor Cheng has felt free to criticize us, as is her right. And while the FA strives to maintain a measured tone in its own official communications, we are not in the business of muzzling the speech of our members. To our mind, free speech and spirited debate are central academic values.

Frustration over the slow pace of negotiations has no doubt exacerbated tensions on campus. Given all the frustration and tension, we fail to see what sense it makes to abandon negotiations just as they are showing signs of moving into a more productive phase. The timing of this shift in negotiations is no accident: it comes as the result of the unity shown by the faculty represented by the FA as well as the faculty, staff, and graduate assistants represented by other unions, and the support they have shown for their bargaining teams.

As negotiations over the current contract began some 18 months ago, the FA proposed a problem-solving approach to bargaining, Interest-Based Bargaining (IBB). In IBB, the negotiators focus on the interests of the parties rather than positions, and explore options and standards in an effort to meet the interests of both sides. This approach was productive in 2006, when both the FA and the administration made a commitment to this approach. While principles of IBB were incorporated into the ground rules for negotiations this time around, and the FA has presented interest-based options rather than demands, this administration has been unwilling to pursue this approach. Their approach to bargaining culminated with the administration shutting down bargaining last spring and imposing terms on the FA and other unions.

In this period of renewed activity at the bargaining table, we remain committed to developing new options to meet the interests of both parties, all in an effort to find a mutual agreement with the Board of Trustees. We make no apology, however, for vigorously asserting faculty interests, including tenure, academic freedom, and our right to have the terms and conditions of our employment protected through a legally enforceable contract.

We urge all members of the faculty to educate themselves about the proposals and options presented by both sides and follow the course of bargaining through the documents and reports available on our website (

Finally, we append to this message a list giving some examples of progress the FA has made in past contracts. This progress was hard-earned, and some of it is under threat in the current round of negotiations. But with the support of the faculty we can defend past progress, make further gains, and reach a solid agreement with the administration that protects academic values and priorities on this campus, helps ensure that SIUC will continue to foster faculty research, and better enables us to educate the students all of us are here to serve.

SIUC Faculty Association, IEA-NEA
Randy Hughes, President
Daren Callahan, Vice President
Laura Dreuth Zeman, Secretary
Donald Sparling, Treasurer
David Johnson, Chair, Departmental Representatives Council

Selected FA accomplishments, 1997-2011

  • Protected tenure as part of collective bargaining process (1997)
  • Guaranteed faculty voice in Department/College Operating Papers (1997)
  • Strengthened the role of the Faculty Senate and the Faculty Association  in Program Changes (1997)
  • Protected academic freedom with access to a grievance procedure with binding arbitration (1997)
  • Clarified and institutionalized the role of faculty in the review of administrators (2000)
  • Protected academic quality via a Student to (bargaining unit) Faculty ratio of 26:1 (2003)
  • Established an Intellectual Property Policy mid-contract using a problem-solving process without arbitration (2003)
  • Secured a side-letter ruling out layoffs for financial exigency (2003 & 2006)
  • Initiated and with IEA/NEA help funded an Interest-Based Bargaining joint training and negotiations process in (2005-06)
  • Increased promotional raises to 12% of median salary in departments  (2006)
  • Created due process for non-tenure track faculty annual review to avoid arbitrary non- reappointments (2006)
  • Secured $3 million dollars in equity raises, raising salaries near those of peers (2006)
  • Contractualized the role of the JRB in deciding due process questions in tenure and promotion denials (2006)
  • Represented numerous faculty in grievances, most resolved privately without outside arbitration (1997-2011)
  • Started tenure & promotion workshop series for tenure-track faculty (2009-2011)
  • With IEA help, fought to stop the erosion and elimination of SURS pension benefits
  • With NEA help, fought in coalition with national unions to oppose curtailing of bargaining rights for public sector employees.

About Dave Johnson
I'm an Associate Professor in Classics at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Among other things.

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