FA News (12/11/17): Updates

A number of important announcements as we near the end of the semester.

1. The Board of Trustees comes to Carbondale

The chancellor’s restructuring proposal has proven to be nothing if not controversial. The SIU administration and Board of Trustees have received numerous letters from faculty, students, professional groups, and alumni, and have learned of votes taken in opposition to the proposed elimination of academic departments by the SIUC Faculty Senate, Graduate Council, Undergraduate Student Government, and Graduate and Professional Student Council. The last has not only voted to oppose elimination of departments, but to censure the chancellor for his unwillingness to consult with the GPSC, his treatment of GPSC representatives, and his attitude toward graduate education.

We urge faculty to continue sending letters to the board. But it is essential that the board see and hear those who have concerns about the chancellor’s proposed plan. We have two opportunities to make an impression on the BOT this week. On Thursday, December 14, the full board meets in Ballroom C of the SIUC Student Center; committee meetings start at 9:00 a.m., so one may wait for the full board to convene, with a public comment section, around 10:00 a.m. If you can’t make the full meeting, consider attending the executive committee meeting at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday in the Mississippi Room in the student center. This meeting will also include a public comment period, and one of the topics on the agenda is the academic reorganization at SIUC. Full details on the BOT meeting can be found here.

Do consider attending:

The full BOT meeting Thursday at 10:00 a.m. in Ballroom C; and/or

The BOT EC meeting Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in the Iroquois Room

2. Recruitment training

Members of the FA interested in learning more about how to recruit new members are warmly invited to join us at 5:00 on Tuesday, 12/12, in the Iroquois Room of the student center.

3. CCC group opens survey and website

The “Coordinating Committee for Change,” a group of students, faculty, and staff formed in response to the restructuring proposal, has launched a website and survey. The website aims to pull together links to restructuring proposals and related issues on other campuses; the survey polls people on their reaction to chancellor’s restructuring plan. I have taken the survey, which does indeed only take about 10 minutes, and does indeed ask questions directly relevant to the restructuring proposal.

4. FA Article 9 Task Force

The FA is working to pull together a task force to help faculty navigate the Article 9 process. If you are interested in helping out, please drop me (Dave J) a line.

5. Article 9 grievance; protection against retaliation

The FA does not oppose change, but we are determined to see that the Article 9 process works as it was intended, with full and informed participation by faculty, to ensure that changes are in the best interest of SIUC. In pursuit of this goal, we are planning to file a grievance based on administrative violations of Article 9. We will argue that the administration failed to give faculty an adequate opportunity to participate in the development of the individual proposals, and that the Article 9 proposals distributed on November 13 failed to provide the information mandated by the contract, as they were generic templates for all proposed schools rather than individual plans for the schools involved. The proposals thus failed to provide the facts and analysis faculty need to give an informed response. We also have concerns about subsequent implementation of Article 9, though it is possible we will be able to resolve these without including them in this grievance. We have identified grievants from most of the proposed schools; if you would like to add your name to their number, or have specific questions about the grievance, please contact Randy Hughes at hrhughes57@frontier.com 

We have also heard concerns that some faculty are worried about retaliation for speaking up in opposition to the chancellor’s reorganization plan. Faculty represented by the FA are safeguarded not only by general legal protections for free speech but, when they are exercising their collective bargaining rights, including those enshrined in Article 9, by Illinois labor law. Please let us know (contact Randy Hughes, chair of our grievance committee) if you have reason to believe that you or another faculty member has faced retaliation.

6. Salary bargaining
Your FA bargaining team had their initial meeting with the administration to bargain over salaries now that Illinois has a budget. The union presented proposals on across the board raises (retroactive and in the future), establishing minimum salaries, offsetting possible increases in health insurance premiums, and promotional raises. The administration asked some questions, but said they would need to review the union’s proposal. The next bargaining session will be in January.

7. GOP Tax Bill

As if we didn’t have enough on our plates locally, the Republican tax bill making its way through congress could have a devastating impact on higher education. Here’s an article from the NEA on one thing the bill would do to undermine higher education: taxing tuition waivers for graduate students. Note that this would also mean that faculty who get tuition waivers for spouses or children would have to pay taxes on those waivers. Illinois’ Democratic senators oppose the tax bill, but Republican Representative Mike Bost voted for the House version of the tax plan; you can reach his Carbondale office at (618) 457-5787.

It has been an exhausting semester. While we push through final grading and other end of the semester business, I would urge all concerned faculty to make their voices heard to the administration, the board, and the wider community–as so many have already done through votes, letters, and other means. A clear message sent now just might lead to some rethinking on the administration’s part. We will then have some time to recuperate before what will no doubt be an interesting spring semester, and a vital period in the history of SIUC.

In solidarity,

Dave Johnson

President, SIUC FA

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

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