First two 2019-2020 newsletters

The first two newsletters came in the form of emails; they are pasted below.

August 30, 2019

Dear colleagues,

A few announcements for you.
Impact bargaining about promotion and tenure. We are bargaining with the administration on a number of different fronts. The most pressing is probably that of promotion and tenure procedures given the first steps in the restructuring process. School formation, and the chaotic college structure we are currently dealing with, have considerately complicated the promotion and tenure process on both the unit and college levels. While we have often warned about the administration’s failure to adequately plan for the disruption caused by restructuring, we are bargaining with them in good faith to agree on procedures that will protect faculty interests. Nothing is settled yet, but bargaining on these issues appears to be off to a good start, and we hope to reach an agreement soon that will clarify how things will work for those going through the P & T process this year.
Mandated training. Some colleagues have communicated with us about the new administrative dictate requiring faculty to do training for export control. We have noted to the administration the burden this places on faculty, for most of whom the training is irrelevant. Federal mandates must be followed, but SIUC has an obligation to protect faculty workloads (which the FA has the legal right to bargain), and, perhaps just as importantly, to treat SIUC faculty collegially as professionals rather than as recalcitrants likely to require disciplinary action.
Email warnings. This email, like all others you are receiving from non-siu accounts, will presumably be marred by a red-letter, all-cap warning that looks like it came out of the early days of the internet. We have noted to the administration that these repetitious warnings imply that SIUC cannot trust its faculty, staff, or students to master basics of internet security without insistent, blaring warnings. The warnings monopolize precious pixel space in notifications that would otherwise provide guidance to the content of messages. The warnings disfigure messages sent to and from professional contacts off-campus. Internet security is an important issue, but surely the university can come up with less counterproductive, irritating, and embarrassing ways of educating email users about security.
Celebrating labor. On a happier note, as Labor Day approaches, we are pleased to pass on word about events at the SIU University Museum celebrating the labor movement. The events are sponsored by the local chapter of the Democratic Sociliasts of America, the University Museum, and a number units on campus. I paste an announcement below, and the DSA website has a full list of events.

August 13, 2019

Dear colleagues,

In lieu of a more traditional welcome back message, I should address the mailings going around from the Illinois Policy Institute, a right-wing think tank funded by former Illinois governor Bruce Rauner and his allies. The mailings give a false picture of the IEA’s spending and priorities. I attach an IEA rebuttal flier, which rather effectively demolishes the IPI’s claims in the postcard that’s been landing in some mailboxes. For the IEA’s own reckoning of where dues are spent, follow this link:

The IPI’s mailings are a sign of desperation rather than strength. The IPI/Rauner anti-union agenda has failed in Illinois, despite the victory handed to them by the Trump Supreme Court in the Janus case, which made it illegal for unions to bargain fair share agreements with public employers (something the SIU administration has always refused to do in any event). As a matter of fact, membership in the NEA has gone up since the Janus case, as has membership in AFSCME. Union members are not quitting in droves, nor are unions suffering, as anti-union activists hoped–rather the opposite. And of course Rauner was beaten decisively in his re-election campaign by J. B. Pritzker, a candidate endorsed by the IEA.

Here are some things the FA and IEA have been working on over the summer.

The FA has formed bargaining teams to address conflict of interest policies and to do impact bargaining to protect faculty members’ interests in areas where restructuring has been approved (including tenure and promotion policies). Negotiations on both topics will start early in the fall semester. Our thanks to the colleagues who have volunteered to take part in this vital work.

We are in the early stages of “full book” negotiations on a new contract. The FA bargaining team and administration bargaining team did a joint training session early this summer, and both sides have committed to an “interest-based bargaining” approach. In this approach the two sides aim to find mutually acceptable results based on each side’s interests, rather than engaging in “positional bargaining,” in which each side enters with a position and tries to push the other side to accept it. Bargaining will be facilitated by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, which provides more information on this approach here:

The IEA lobbied on behalf of the bill recently signed by Governor Pritzker to give both student trustees a vote on the SIU Board of Trustees. The bill had previously been vetoed by Governor Rauner. The FA supports this move. In our experience, student trustees have been more consistently engaged and more willing to ask the hard questions than most other members of the board. And by consistently giving a student from each campus a vote, the bill will make it easier to balance the interests of SIUC and SIUE, something vital if the SIU system is to thrive.

We have seen a sea change in Illinois since the IPI agenda was repudiated by the election of Governor Pritzker, who has worked with the legislature to renew Illinois’ commitment to funding public universities and providing MAP grants for students. SIUC still faces huge challenges, above all in declining enrollment, but had Rauner been re-elected, our situation will be far worse.

So the FA is working on behalf of faculty here in Carbondale, and the IEA is supporting us and working to promote public higher education in Springfield. The IPI providing the free advice to faculty now is the same outfit that backed Rauner when he denied public universities state funding, driving students away from Illinois, and doing untold damage to universities across the state. I for one think the choice between the IPI and the IEA ought to be pretty clear for all of us who support public higher education in Illinois.

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

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: