Updated: SIU to repay more than $1.7 million in unpaid furlough

IU Carbondale will pay at least $1.7 million to nearly 1,500 employees who were forced to take unpaid furlough days in 2011.

The move comes on the heels of a legal decision issued Dec. 18 by the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, which upheld a previous decision that the university bargained in bad faith with three employee unions in regards to the furlough and must repay the lost wages.

On Wednesday, SIU administrators met with the Board of Trustees’ executive committee, and board chairman Randal Thomas said the committee counseled President Randy Dunn not to appeal the labor board’s decision. The university had until Thursday to file an appeal.

“A lengthy appeal could lead to significant additional costs,” Dunn said in a news release Thursday afternoon. “There are obviously multiple sides and perspectives to any issue, but it makes sense for us to close the page on this difficult period and look forward to the future in partnership with all our faculty and staff.”

Dunn said “it’s too early to say” when employees can expect to receive their reimbursement. They still have to track down all the former employees impacted by the ruling.

The money will come from contingency funds and savings from employee attrition, Dunn said.

Three employee unions — the SIUC Non-Tenure Track Faculty Association, the Association of Civil Service Employees and the SIUC Faculty Association — filed the original complaint against the university. All are associated with the Illinois Education Association.

Jim Wall, president of the non-tenure track union, said he’s excited to close this chapter in the union’s history.

“It’s like a ton of bricks has been lifted,” he said. “Everybody seems to be putting that era behind and moving on. It’s good.”

Read the full story

SIU trustees to decide on court decision that university bargained in bad faith

A standoff between SIU Carbondale administrators and several employee unions remains unresolved, more than three years after a strike officially ended.

The SIU Board of Trustees’ executive committee met Wednesday to decide whether or not to appeal a court decision ordering the university to repay about 1,500 employees nearly $2 million in back wages after administrators in 2011 forced employees to take four furlough days.

John Charles, SIU’s executive director for governmental and public affairs, said the university will issue a statement today, outlining the trustees’ decision.

Up for appeal is a Dec. 18 decision by the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board, which reaffirmed an earlier ruling that the university bargained in bad faith during contract negotiations in 2010 and 2011.

“The overall record clearly indicates that the university went through the motions of bargaining without an open mind or a sincere desire to reach an agreement,” the decision stated. “Instead, it wanted to get to a point where it could declare ‘impasse’ as quickly as possible so that it could impose the terms that it wanted. Although this course of action was easier, it was plainly unlawful.”

Three employee unions – the SIUC Non-Tenure Track Faculty Association, the Association of Civil Service Employees and the SIUC Faculty Association – filed the original complaint.

All three are affiliated with Illinois Education Association.

“I think I could speak for the leadership of the union when I say we feel vindicated,” Dr. Rachel Stocking, president of the tenure-track union and a history professor at SIU, said of the labor board’s decision. “It affirms what we’ve been saying all along, which was that they were not bargaining in good faith.”

Read the full story

SIU unions give university notice of intent to begin contract negotiations

After a Wednesday rally at Morris Library, four of SIU’s unions gave university administrators formal notice of intent to begin contract negotiations with letters delivered to Carbondale Chancellor Rita Cheng.

The unions — the SIUC Faculty Association, SIU Non-Tenure Track Faculty Association, Graduate Assistants United and the Association of Civil Service Employees — are part of the Illinois Education Association and represent more than 3,000 faculty and staff with a June 30 expiration date in their contracts with the university.

“We were fulfilling a contractually-requested process to begin bargaining as part of our timeline,” said George Boulukos, vice president of the SIUC Faculty Association, about Wednesday’s rally. “We requested to begin the process formally.”

Two years and four months have passed since the previous round of negotiations resulted in a six-day strike by the SIUC Faculty Association in November 2011.

The other three unions were able to reach an agreement with university administrators to avoid a strike.

“We want this round of negotiations to be constructive and not drawn out,” said SIUC Faculty Association President Rachel Stocking. “The last round did not go well and ended up with a strike for us.

“We would like (the negotiations) to be mutually respectful and start out with a positive step.”

Read the full story

Strike Watch #2

411 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!

It’s a matter of priorities

In case you missed it last week, here is a link to SIUC faculty member Dave Johnson’s “Morning Conversation” with Jennifer Fuller on August 9: WSIU Morning Conversation with SIUC Faculty Association .

Dave points out that despite all of the problems with the national economy and state budget, the state audits show that SIU is in good fiscal health. The problem is not having enough money to spend, but how SIU spends that money. It is about priorities and protecting the quality of education.

Many crucial interests remain to be addressed at the bargaining table, including the integrity of the tenure system, protection from indiscriminate layoffs, and fairness in workload assignments. Here we focus on recent trends in spending at SIUC. These facts speak to the need for faculty to have a say in setting university priorities in order to meet our fundamental interests: the quality of education and the strength of the academic mission.

Here are a few facts for your consideration:

  • In FY 2010, SIUC revenues exceeded expenditures by $15.8 million. ( SIU FY 2010 Year End Financial Performance Report)
  • FY 2011 revenue estimates are several million dollars above FY 2010 expenditure levels. (SIU Financial Performance Reports)
  • Chancellor Cheng directed academic units to cut FY 2011 expenditures from FY 2010 levels by an average of 4%.
  • A decrease in the number of tenured and tenure track faculty members resulted in $1.8 million reduction in spending on faculty salaries from Academic Year 2009-10 to Academic Year 2010-11. Imposed furlough days resulted in a further faculty salary reduction of about $1 million. (bargaining unit reports from the Office of the Associate Provost for Academic Administration)
  • From 2000 to 2009, the number of full time faculty increased by a little less than 5%. The number of employees classified as “Executive/Administrative/Managerial” or “Professional Non-Faculty” increased by 27%. (SIUC Institutional Research & Studies)
  • The number of faculty in the tenured and tenure track faculty bargaining unit has decreased from 713 in September 2009 to 687 in September 2010. As of June 30, 2011, the number of faculty in the bargaining unit was already down to 661, a 7.3% reduction from Fall 2009 levels. (bargaining unit reports from the Office of the Associate Provost for Academic Administration)
  • SIUC’s peer institutions spend, on average, 17.5% of their budgets on administration and support. SIUC spends 29%. (2008 IPEDS data set)
  • SIUC doubled its subsidy of athletics in five years to over $14 million in the 2009-10 year. These subsidies amount to more than 60% of operating revenues and come from direct and indirect institution support and student fees. These amounts do not include $76 million spent on Saluki Way construction. (USA Today)
  • A new marketing and rebranding initiative has cost SIUC $1.5 million. (Southern Illinoisan, August 14, 2011)

As overall budgets increase, cuts in spending on academics mean that resources are being shifted toward other administrative priorities. It is time for the faculty to exercise our right and our responsibility to defend the academic mission at SIUC. A fair contract that protects academic values at SIUC is essential to maintaining the integrity of our university.

For more information

From the SIUC Faculty Association:
Finances and the Future of SIUC

Budgetary “Myths and Assumptions”

Budget Information (February 14, 2011)

From USA Today:
Athletics Subsidies at Division I Schools (table)

What NCAA schools spend on athletics (database)

SIU Data:
Vice President for Financial & Administrative Affairs (with links to financial reports)

Information Quest (SIUC Institutional Research & Studies)

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Strike Watch #1

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!

Our Bargaining Objectives

Bargaining on the successor agreement to the 2007-2010 Collective Bargaining Agreement has slowed to a snail’s pace (see the Bargaining Update below) and it is now 392 days that faculty and other unionized employees at SIUC have worked without a new agreement. There has been no progress towards resolution on a number of critical issues. At best, the Administration gives these issues superficial consideration, and in many cases they have not given any kind of response to the options presented by the FA team.

On April 28, the Faculty Association filed a Notice of Intent to Strike. Absent a negotiated agreement, a strike is the ultimate option to counter the Administration’s unilateral imposition of terms of employment and failure to negotiate in good faith. The Notice of Intent to Strike cleared the remaining legal hurdle to exercising the option of a strike.

This crisis can be averted through the negotiation of a fair settlement that addresses the following objectives:

  • Stopping the erosion of tenure and the potential for indiscriminate layoffs by insisting that layoffs be conditioned on a joint determination of a bona fide financial exigency.
  • Opposing a repeat of unilateral salary reductions by means of furloughs or unpaid leave days.
  • Workload and overload language that addresses contact hours, indirect teaching responsibilities, and new program delivery methods.
  • Proper support for Faculty who are in academic units creating and implementing distance learning programs.
  • A multi-year salary plan that attracts and retains excellent Faculty.
  • Faculty hiring levels that reflect the priority of the academic mission at SIUC.
  • Strengthening faculty governance and shared governance in program changes and departmental decision-making.
  • FA partnership with the administration expressed in the form of a reasonable fair share agreement (all faculty share the cost of union representation) that recognizes Faculty solidarity and power.
  • A ratified Agreement effective July 1, 2010.

Bargaining Update

Since the filing of the Notice of Intent to Strike in April, the Board (administration)  bargaining team has met with the FA team five times.  All discussions have concerned the successor agreement to the 2007-2010 Collective Bargaining Agreement. In May, several Tentative Agreements  were signed (Sections 4.01-4.04, 5.01, 15.04-15.06, 15.08-15.09, 16.04, 16.05, and 16.07 and Addenda A and C). These agreements leave the language of these sections unchanged from the 2007-2010 Agreement, except for Section 5.01 which now will specify that the Library Affairs Operating Paper is a college operating paper.

The teams agreed that after these tentative agreements were signed, the teams should turn their discussions to non-financial issues while the state’s budget was being decided. These issues were identified as workload (including distance learning and overload), program changes, association rights, operating papers, sexual harassment procedures, leaves of absence, and policies and procedures concerning outside employment and conflict of interest.

Subsequently, the chief subject of discussions during three sessions in July was distance education, including assignment, rights and responsibilities, support, dispute resolution, compensation, and overload.  Although we share a lot of common ground, the Board team has been unwilling to commit points of agreement to written contract language.

The teams also discussed issues surrounding sexual harassment cases.  Despite our best efforts to explain our interest in contract language which will address due process and procedures to follow in sexual harassment cases, the Board team refused to consider our supposal. This supposal dates back to midterm bargaining over sexual harassment policy and procedures and has been in the Board’s hands for over two years without a response.

No other bargaining sessions are scheduled for July and negotiations are not expected to resume until after the beginning of the fall semester.

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Reduction in Force

Reduction in Force
SIUC Faculty Association Fact Sheet

What do the Imposed Terms on Faculty Layoffs Mean?

Article 19 (“Reduction in Force”) in the “last, best and final” offer of the Board is de facto the end of tenure on our campus.  The language in this article states that Faculty can be fully, or partially, laid off “If the Board considers a need for a reduction in force.”  It also states that the Board will determine “the level of organization…to which the layoff applies.”

Is Financial Exigency Needed to Lay Off Tenured Faculty?

No. According to this language, there is nothing whatsoever limiting the Board’s exclusive right to terminate, or reduce, the services of Faculty.  The Board alone determines the need for Faculty layoffs; no objective parameter has to be met. The university is not required to demonstrate that a state of financial exigency exists.  Nor are negotiations with the Faculty Association required to determine whether layoffs are necessary. No program needs to have been discontinued.  The Board simply must claim there is a “need” for layoffs, full or partial , in order for them to take place. While Article 19 in the Board’s offer stipulates that various factors (e.g., “length of full time service… educational qualifications; professional training; and professional experiences”) will “be considered” when making layoff decisions, none of these are mandatory. “Consider” is administratorese for “look at perfunctorily, and then decide whatever one wishes.”

Are any Faculty safe from potential Layoffs?

Any administrator will be able to use the above language to lay off any Faculty member.  All that is required is the combined use of a properly selected “level of organization,” a convenient choice of the “University’s program needs,” and the consideration that there is a “need” for layoffs. The Board could experience a “need” to lay off Faculty for any cost-cutting scheme while the threat of layoff can be used to intimidate Faculty.

Article 19 mentions the possibility for the Association to “bargain” after the Administration has decided to implement Faculty layoffs.  This bargaining (called “impact bargaining”) is limited to bargaining the impact of a reduction in force.  Bargaining will not take place over the need for layoffs nor over the programmatic level at which layoffs will be implemented. The only things to be bargained in the Board proposal are the minutiae of the implementation of the Administration’s unilateral decision to lay off Faculty.

What becomes of tenure?

This version of “tenure” is a dramatic departure from what we have now at SIUC.  In the 2006-2010 contract, tenure could only be lost for “just cause” or as a result of program termination (“financial exigency” as a cause for layoffs was excluded, by agreement, in a side letter stating there would be no layoffs during the duration of the contract).  The language on reduction in force in the Board’s imposed offer weakens tenure to the point where tenure and academic freedom cease to exist on our campus in any recognizable form.  This language shows, once and for all, that the Chancellor’s repeated statements that furloughs were needed to avoid layoffs were just so many lies.  Under the imposed terms, we have furloughs (i.e., a cut in pay) and we also have the permanent threat of layoffs, whenever the Board considers there is “a need” for them.

What is the SIUCFA proposing?

After reviewing several Faculty contracts from across the country, the SIUCFA bargaining team drafted a proposal on Reduction in Force which included meaningful Faculty involvement in decisions relating to layoffs.  In contrast to the Board language on reduction in force, the Faculty Association proposal requires that “a state of bona fide and legitimate financial exigency” exists for Faculty layoffs to occur.  It requires that representatives of the Faculty and the Administration jointly participate in the declaration of a strictly defined condition of financial exigency.  Reduction in force is never permissible to deal with temporary financial difficulties resulting from variations in enrollment or appropriations.

The SIUCFA team proposed that the Administration identify the programs in which layoffs were to take place – if financial exigency had been deemed to exist.  Within such programs, the procedures describe the strict sequence that is to be followed when layoffs will occur. Finally, the process proposed by the Association allows Faculty members selected for layoff to file a grievance regarding their selection on the grounds, among other, of bias, procedural error, arbitrary, capricious, or bad faith application of layoff criteria.  In those cases where there is no choice other than to lay off a Faculty member, the SIUCFA proposal provides for a year’s notice.  The imposed offer from the Board provides thirty (30) days notice.

Which option protects you?

Unlike the arbitrary terms imposed by the Chancellor, the SIUCFA proposal on reduction in force establishes a process that is transparent, uniform, and grievable. When your employment and your tenure are in the balance, should you expect-and do you deserve-anything less than the transparent, uniform and grievable process that the SIUCFA proposal provides?

SIUCFA proposal Board  terms
Board alone determines “need” for layoff       X
Legitimate financial exigency must exist in order to lay off       X
Faculty participation in financial exigency determination       X
All cost saving options must be explored before layoff       X
Voluntary reductions and redeployment options must be offered       X
30-day layoff notification       X
Options for recall rights, severance pay, or retirement incentives       X
Transparent, uniform and grievable process       X

Event: Protest of Chancellor’s Installation

Outcome of Mediation – Last offer from Board

Dear Colleagues,

During the last two days, negotiations between the SIUC Faculty Association and SIU Board of Trustees bargaining teams have been conducted with the involvement of a federal mediator. Despite determined efforts by your Faculty Association team to negotiate a mutually acceptable contract, the Board team issued a final offer earlier this afternoon which fails to meet the interests of Faculty on several major issues:

  • equitable workload standards and assignments,
  • compensation levels which will attract and retain faculty,
  • fair and equitable overload compensation,
  • flexibility to offer academic year appointments in Library Affairs,
  • distance education policies appropriate to a major research university,
  • reform of inappropriate and out-of-compliance procedures regarding sexual harassment and conflict of interest,
  • reduction in force and temporary wage adjustment terms based on legitimate and verifiable determinations of financial exigency,

and other issues of transparency, equitability, and accountability. The Board’s offer primarily consists of the addition of draconian layoff and furlough language which negates tenure rights and imposes unpaid days without accountability or demonstration of financial necessity. Read more of this post

Update from the SIUC Faculty Association, IEA-NEA

SIUC Administration quits negotiations

The SIUC Administration has quit negotiations with two more unions since unilaterally declaring an impasse in negotiations with the Association of Civil Service Employees (ACsE) on Monday, March 7. On Tuesday, March 8, the Administration ended negotiations with Graduate Assistants United (GAU); on Wednesday, March 9, the Administration declared an impasse with the Non-Tenure Track Faculty Association (NTTFA), issuing an ultimatum for the NTTFA to accept the Administration’s “last, best, and final offer” or have it imposed on them. In all of these cases, the Administration chose to stop negotiating after only a couple of sessions with a federal mediator. As is the case for ACsE, the Administration’s “last, best, and final offer” for NTTFA imposes furlough days for this year, but also reduces Administration accountability in imposing layoffs and furloughs in the future. The Administration had already decided not to pursue furlough days for graduate assistants, but has rejected every proposal from GAU on other issues. All of our local unions have other issues on the bargaining table which are important for the future of our University, but which run the danger of being forgotten in the Administration’s preoccupation with furloughs and layoffs. Read more of this post

Budget Update

Click here for a one-page budget update in pdf format.  The document will open in a new window or tab.