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.”

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Upcoming Event: Talk about labor

The executive director of Jobs with Justice, Sarita Gupta, will be giving a lecture “The State of the American Worker” this Thursday (September 25) at 7:00pm in Ballroom B of the SIU student Center.

FA Victory on Furlough Days

Dear Colleagues,
I am more than pleased to announce that the Illinois Education Association legal team has won an important victory for the Faculty Association and our bargaining unit members (FA members, and non-FA members) who were furloughed for four days in 2011. On July 2, the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board ruled that in 2011 the SIUC Administration in place at that time practiced “bad faith bargaining” in negotiations with the Faculty Association, as well as with the Non-Tenure Track Faculty Association (NTTFA) and the Association of Civil Service Employees (ACsE). According to the decision, SIUC violated the Illinois Education Labor Relations Act when they “unlawfully” declared an impasse in negotiations and unilaterally imposed terms that included four unpaid furlough days. The judge in the case, Colleen Harvey, awarded a “make whole” remedy for affected employees: four days’ pay, plus interest. The entire ruling is on-line at http://media.ieanea.net/media/2014/07/SIUC-Impasse-ALJ-RDO-7-10-14.pdf

According to the ruling, in the bargaining sessions leading up to the illegal impasse, the SIUC bargaining teams’ conduct “demonstrated that it lacked an open mind and a sincere desire to reach agreement.” The judge determined that SIUC “pushed the Union to the point of impasse, simply so it could impose its offer on the bargaining unit.” The decision was supported by evidence from the minutes of the SIUC teams’ internal meetings, where a strategy was laid out to “get to impasse quickly” by saying “‘no no no’ so that we have 3-6 bargaining sessions of no movement.” The decision quotes one team member as saying, “we just have to get them to a point where they (the FA) aren’t proposing and they aren’t agreeing to our proposal – [we] need to box them in.” Meanwhile, according to the ruling, the FA, NTTFA, and ACsE teams continued to present proposals in an effort to move negotiations forward.

During the same period, the Administration publicly portrayed the unions as unreasonably blocking bargaining progress and thus causing an impasse. This ruling counters that portrayal decisively. The illegal impasse and imposition of furlough days resulted in a severe deterioration of relations between the unions and the SIUC Administration. As you know, in November, 2011, the Faculty Association went on strike for five days before a settlement was finally reached.

This decision represents a victory not only for the unions that filed the Unfair Labor Practice charge and the employees they represent, but also for the principles and practice of good faith collective bargaining. By continuing their efforts to reach a mutual agreement during the bargaining period, and by challenging the administration’s illegal imposition through three years of legal procedures, the unions have protected all represented employees from the unilateral decisions of our previous Administration. The decision also reaffirms both parties’ legal obligation to approach collective bargaining as a problem-solving process, rather than as a means of manipulation. In the words of the judge’s ruling, “Good faith bargaining presupposes an open mind and a sincere desire to reach an agreement.”(p. 42)

The ruling comes at a time when collective bargaining for a new contract is under way, and also coincides with the SIU community welcoming a new system President, Dr. Randy Dunn, and a new SIUC Chancellor, Dr. Paul Sarvela. The concurrence of these events presents an opportunity for everyone on our campus. As our new administrators review the actions of the previous four years, they can use this decision to learn from the mistakes of the past, and join the Faculty Association in a constructive and respectful approach to collective bargaining in the future. As SIU and other public universities face increasing budgetary restrictions, the IELRB ruling highlights the central role of good-faith bargaining in developing strategies for meeting these challenges.

Many thanks for this victory are due to FA members for their continued support, to the 2011 bargaining team and officers for all the hours of volunteer work they put in, and to the IEA and its legal team for their efforts on behalf of Tenured and Tenure-track Faculty at SIUC.

You’ll be hearing more about the decision in the coming days, and you may have many questions. The Faculty Association will be holding an informational meeting to discuss the details during the first week of classes. Watch your regular mailbox for a postcard invitation with location and time. Meanwhile, enjoy the rest of your summer!

Best wishes,
Rachel Stocking
Faculty Association President

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.”

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CHE Bargaining Update: 30 April, 6 May, 13 May 2013, Automotive Technology, Architecture, Computer Science, Theater

CHE bargaining ended this term with an agreement in the Department of Computer Science. The main sticking point for the department had originally been the phrase “research-active faculty,” but bargaining teams and the department were ultimately able to iron out a compromise on this subject. The FA bargaining team is particularly grateful to department representatives for responding so quickly to proposals during the bargaining process.

We have also made provisional progress on the subject of contact hours. On Tuesday, 30 April we discussed credit-hour equivalence amendments in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, specifically the departments of Automotive Technology and Architecture, both of which have hefty contact-hour commitments not currently recognized in workload assignment. Automotive Technology in particular has an extensive time commitment involved in preparing a single course session and David Gilbert gave a particularly compelling presentation on this subject. The bargaining teams continued to discuss the architecture amendment on 6 and 13 May, in an attempt to iron out criteria for lab and studio hour CHEs, as well as the contact hours required in architecture theses.

On Monday, 13 May, the bargaining teams discussed the amendment in the Department of Theater. Here too one of the central sticking points is the contact hours required for costume, set design, and other studios, as well as those required for directing a major production. During the course of the session, consultants from the department, Anne Fletcher and Mark Varns, made a compelling case for how the existing structure of their program is reflected in their CHE proposal. In the case of both architecture and theater, the FA bargaining team anticipates receiving proposals from the administration team in the coming weeks. We will resume bargaining in the fall with these proposals.

The FA bargaining team would again like to thank all of the faculty who took the time to serve as consultants and to discuss their amendments and programs with us. We are sincerely grateful for all of the effort and energy you’ve put into this process.

Currently, we do not yet have an itinerary for the fall, but bargaining will resume the first week of the semester. As always, if you have any questions about this process, please do not hesitate to contact Ryan Netzley (ranetzley@gmail.com).

CHE Bargaining Update: 22 April 2013 Educational Administration and Higher Education and Kinesiology

 

The FA bargaining team met with representatives from the administration on Monday, 22 April to discuss credit-hour equivalence amendments in the College of Education, specifically the departments of Kinesiology and Educational Administration and Higher Education.  Both of these departments maintain that Addendum B supports accruing and applying credits earned from indirect teaching to workload assignments through a banking model.

 

During the session, we heard many of the same objections that we’ve already heard: workload is prospective and, as a result it, past work does not or cannot matter for such workload assignments.  We tried to point out that the contract already not only acknowledges, but calls for the consideration of prior overloads in making workload assignments (8.07.g.3 if you’re interested), but that did not seem to move matters very far.

 

Instead, we became embroiled in another discussion of ranges versus specific equivalences.  We did hear a new argument: that ranges are the compromise position because originally the administration did not want any numbers at all.  This was the first that we’d heard this particular take on this issue, but if you’ve seen or heard it in other meetings please alert one of us. The FA bargaining team would like to thank members of the department of Kinesiology for bearing with this digression.

 

We didn’t receive an answer when we asked about the problems with the twelve peer models that Educational Administration and Higher Education used to develop their amendment.  The general idea seems to be that we shouldn’t use peer models, but should compare departments internally.

 

When we were able to focus on banking, the administration worried explicitly about a scenario in which faculty members would accumulate loads of indirect teaching and then take three years off and never come back before retirement.  We did note that even when Educational Administration and Higher Education offered to sunset accumulated CHE after three years, the provost rejected the proposal.

 

Finally, the administration suggested that there exists a concept called “administrative freedom” that is analogous to academic freedom.  The analogy offered was that the administration doesn’t intervene in how faculty teach courses, so faculty shouldn’t intervene in how administrators make workload assignments.  We did point out that department chairs are not teaching us something when they assign workload.

 

We’ll be turning to papers focused on contact hours next week from the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, specifically the departments of Automotive Technology and Architecture.

 

As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Ryan Netzley (ranetzley@gmail.com).

CHE Bargaining Update: 15 April 2013, English and Foreign Languages and Literatures

CHE bargaining has begun. The FA bargaining team met with the administration team on Monday, 8 April and established ground rules for negotiations.  On Monday, 15 April, we started bargaining on two department amendments, those from English and Foreign Languages and Literatures.  Both of these departments contend that the administration’s demand for “a range of equivalences” violates the explicit language in the contract. On Monday, 22 April, we’ll turn to amendments in the College of Education, specifically the departments of Kinesiology and Educational Administration and Higher Education.  Both of these departments maintain that the contract provision provides for awarding and accounting for indirect teaching credit hours in workload assignments.

The bargaining team has organized the remaining sessions this term in a similar fashion: specific department papers that epitomize the central sticking points—ranges, banking, contact hours, and research activity.  In these early sessions, we heard many of the same administration arguments that we’ve already heard.  However, we remain optimistic that, once we’ve sussed out the various positions more frankly and candidly, progress can be made.

The FA bargaining team would also like to reiterate that there is only one principle guiding these negotiations: departmental sovereignty over the CHE process.  What departments want, departments get.  To that end, if you have any questions at all about this process or want to let us know about a specific departmental position that you want represented, please do not hesitate to contact Ryan Netzley (ranetzley@gmail.com).  We would also like to reiterate that departments will vote on any agreements made at the bargaining table: i.e., bargaining doesn’t end in an amendment imposed without your approval.

COEHS Faculty Meeting to discuss the Realignment “Concept Paper” and Faculty Rights

All COEHS Tenured and Tenure Track faculty are invited to a discussion on the Realignment “Concept Paper” that was distributed during spring break in the college. Come together, know your contract and your rights.
Time 4-6 PM, Tuesday, March 26th.
Place: Library room 510 A

FA-NEWSLETTER: Credit Hour Equivalency Update, yet again

Dear Colleagues,

As Provost meetings on Credit Hour Equivalencies progress, I am writing with an update on the process. One issue that Faculty members have asked about repeatedly is including ranges of credit hour equivalency for particular duties, rather than specific equivalencies. While the details will vary from department to department, Addendum B in our contract clearly states that amendments should contain “complete and specific criteria for credit hour equivalencies for contact hours and/or for indirect teaching.” (Addendum B., section A). Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a specific “range of equivalencies.” We have also received several requests for approved CHE models. If you would like to see a copy of an amendment approved at the Provost’s level, or have questions about issues raised in your meeting with the Provost, please contact our Credit Hour Equivalency point-person Ryan Netzley, at ranetzley@gmail.com.
Dear Colleagues,

As Provost meetings on Credit Hour Equivalencies progress, I am writing with an update on the process. One issue that Faculty members have asked about repeatedly is including ranges of credit hour equivalency for particular duties, rather than specific equivalencies. While the details will vary from department to department, Addendum B in our contract clearly states that amendments should contain “complete and specific criteria for credit hour equivalencies for contact hours and/or for indirect teaching.” (Addendum B., section A). Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a specific “range of equivalencies.” We have also received several requests for approved CHE models. If you would like to see a copy of an amendment approved at the Provost’s level, or have questions about issues raised in your meeting with the Provost, please contact our Credit Hour Equivalency point-person Ryan Netzley, at ranetzley@gmail.com.

To clarify the next steps in the process: If your department doesn’t reach an agreement with the Provost on a modified amendment, your department’s amendment will be negotiated by 5-person bargaining teams from the Faculty Association and the University, beginning in March. A Faculty representative from the department will be able to attend the bargaining session(s) concerning their amendment as a consultant to the Association team. Any amendments that are not agreed upon in the bargaining process will then go to an arbitration panel made up of three people from outside the University (one appointed by the FA, one appointed by the Administration, and an arbitrator from the American Arbitration Association). The decision of that panel will be final.

The Faculty Association is committed to ensuring Faculty participation in the bargaining process, and our goal is to complete that phase before summer break (although at this point, since we do not know how many amendments will be negotiated, we can’t predict the full length of the process). We are also committed to supporting departments in the decisions they make as part of this process because it is the Faculty members who have the expertise and qualifications necessary to evaluate these matters.

Thank you for all your work on this,

Rachel Stocking

SIUC Faculty Association President

The First Faculty Association TGIF party of 2013!

Eat, drink, and compare notes with colleagues about what’s happening on campus. Meet people you don’t know!

Date: Friday, February 8, 2013

Time: 5 to 7 p.m.

Place: The Newell House downstairs (“The Grotto,”) at 201 E. Main Street, corner of Washington and Main.
Free appetizers and one free drink ticket.