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 (http://www.ieanea.org/local/siucfa/assets/siucfa-1yearagreement32511.pdf – 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 https://siucfa.wordpress.com/bargaining-information/).

Strike Watch #4

443 days without a contract

A “strike watch” means conditions exist which could lead to a strike by the Faculty Association and our sister unions, the Association of Civil Service Employees, the Non-Tenure Track Faculty Association, and Graduate Assistants United. The administration can solve this crisis today with a fair settlement of our contracts. Make your voice heard by joining the FA!

SIUC Faculty Association Members to Vote on Strike Authorization

The Faculty Association Departmental Representative Council (DRC) voted unanimously Thursday night to hold a strike authorization vote on Wednesday, September 28th. No specific strike date is proposed. On the 28th, members of the Faculty Association will vote on whether to authorize their elected representatives on the DRC to initiate a strike. The text of the DRC resolution:

Resolved: The Departmental Representatives Council (DRC) calls for a vote of the Faculty Association membership on September 28th to authorize a strike and empower the DRC to initiate a strike.

The Faculty Association has been in negotiations with the SIU Board since April 2010. Last spring, the SIUC Administration unilaterally imposed the terms and conditions of their so-called “Last, Best, and Final Offer.” These terms included provisions that eviscerate tenure by permitting the administration to institute layoffs without justification and that undermine our collective bargaining rights by allowing the administration to reduce pay unilaterally through furlough days. Other crucial issues remain unresolved, including provisions concerning distance education and overload. Meetings with the Board bargaining team continue, but the Board has maintained their imposed terms while rejecting proposals to protect academic freedom and quality education here at SIUC.

Our ultimate aim is to achieve a fair negotiated agreement. To date, the Board has not felt compelled to address the critical issues that need to be resolved in order to achieve this agreement. This has left faculty no other alternative but to prepare to strike. The vote to authorize a strike is another step in those preparations.

For more information concerning why we are preparing for a strike and what a strike would mean, see the Strike FAQs:
http://siucunions.wordpress.com/strike-faqs/

Stand up for a fair contract settlement

As of September 1, it has been 428 days without a contract for us, and our three sister IEA locals. The Faculty Association bargaining team met in negotiations with the Board (Administration) bargaining team earlier this week and more sessions are planned for this week and the future. In short, the report from our FA team is that the Board position has not substantially changed from the unacceptable terms imposed on our unit last spring. It is imperative that faculty in our unit become more involved in expressing their displeasure with the Board’s terms. Thursday’s demonstration was a step towards getting that message out.

Report from the FA Bargaining Team

Over the last few bargaining sessions, the Board team has maintained its position of saying NO to our efforts at contractualizing language that protects Faculty interests and holds the Administration accountable.  They are saying:

  • NO to having a transparent and accountable process for layoffs that does not undermine our tenure rights.
  • NO to having a transparent and accountable process for furloughs that does not undermine our rights to collectively bargain salaries.
  • NO to our academic freedom right to determine the method of delivery of our courses.
  • NO to our right to choose whether or not we want to develop and teach Distance Education courses.
  • NO to including language that protects the student/faculty ratio as more distance education courses are taught.
  • NO to including language specifying that the delivery of SIUC courses not be outsourced to other institutions.

At the end of our last bargaining session, we were verbally informed that the Chancellor was working very hard to put together the following salary increases over 4 years:

FY 11: 0%
FY 12: 0%
FY 13: 0.5%
FY 14: 1%.

Our team’s  response to the Board team is that the Chancellor has to work much harder (at least as hard as she did to change our university’s logo).

In reality, due to the furlough days, a 2% reduction in pay was imposed in FY 11. Under the Board’s proposal, the slice of the pie put towards faculty and academics will just get smaller and smaller. To date, there has been no movement on a number of other key issues involving workload and overload, sexual harassment procedures, and conflict of interest policies.

Strike Watch #3

422 days without a contract

A “strike watch” means conditions exist which could lead to a strike by the Faculty Association and our sister unions, the Association of Civil Service Employees, the Non-Tenure Track Faculty Association, and Graduate Assistants United. The administration can solve this crisis today with a fair settlement of our contracts. Make your voice heard by joining the FA!

September 1 Solidarity Demonstration

Protect quality education.
Support a fair contract settlement for faculty, graduate assistants, and civil service staff.

Faculty, Graduate Assistants and Civil Service employees at SIUC are beginning their second academic year without a labor contract – because university officials will not negotiate and come to new agreements.  Our professional employees have been furloughed and threatened with layoffs and job elimination. These employees help students succeed every day, but their professional interests are pushed aside while quality education and the health of the SIU Carbondale community suffer.

Join us in solidarity at a demonstration of support for those who actually produce the high quality educational programs at SIUC–Faculty, Graduate Assistants and Civil Service staff.

WHEN:  11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursday, September 1, 2011

WHERE:  Meet at the intersection of Rt. 51 and Grand Avenue. Informational picketing will be on public property adjacent to University property.

WHY:    428 days WITHOUT a contract – It’s time to stand together

WHO:    Anyone who supports quality education and fair labor agreements for Faculty, Civil Service staff and Graduate Assistants – the heart of SIUC.

Volunteers have developed fliers and posters for this event. A selection of fliers for your use is attached to this message.

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