FAQ update

Faculty Association Strike FAQ.  October 6, 2011.


The questions here, for the most part, deal with issues that are specific to the Faculty Association.

General questions about how a strike works, including questions about insurance and COBRA,

are handled in the Strike FAQ questions on the 4-local Web site: http://siucunions.wordpress.com/strike-faqs/


Strike Preparations


1. What is the FA doing to prepare for a strike?

The Association has a Strike Mobilization Committee that is training members for strike preparations and logistics. We are also supported by the NEA/IEA local and national level staff who have had experience with strikes.


2. Why does the FA only now, when we are getting ready to strike, ask me to get involved?

The FA is coordinated by elected volunteers. No member of the FA leadership is paid for their Association work, and they do this volunteer work on top of their regular teaching, research, and service workload. During non-bargaining years, the FA can run its operation through these elected officers. Now that a strike action is possible, we are more actively asking members to sacrifice their time and energy for what we to fight for an end to this crisis—a fair contract for all Faculty. We all benefit and all should be asked to sacrifice some time and talent so the burden doesn’t fall on just the core volunteers of the FA.

3. Do I have to give my chair a copy of my syllabus? What about my course materials? Website? Who “owns” that stuff?

In general, such materials are your intellectual property and you should not hand them over to be used by strikebreakers. The imposed terms and 2006-2010 contract both require you to provide a copy of the syllabus to every student in your course, but the intellectual property section of the imposed terms states that the university does not claim ownership of ordinary course materials that you produced with no more than the usual support from the university. In some situations, e.g., for accreditation reasons or because of extra university support for course development, you may need to provide these materials to your chair, but most faculty have already satisfied the requirements of the imposed terms by providing a copy of the syllabus to students. Remove such items from your office, and shut down websites that could aid in teaching your classes.

4. What actions do I need to take to prepare to go on strike?

●     Make sure your union has a way to get in touch with you from off campus — a non-SIU email and off-campus phone number.

●     If you plan to elect COBRA coverage, make sure the university has the correct off-campus mailing address for you. For more on COBRA, see the 4-local COBRA page: http://siucunions.wordpress.com/strike-faqs/cobra-specific-questions/.

●     If you can, set aside some cash to get you through a strike. Check with creditors for rules on delaying payments due to loss of income. We have loans for members, but they are not available immediately. (More details about strike loans are available at http://siucunions.wordpress.com/strike-faqs/).

●     Prepare an “out of the office” message on your SIU email, perhaps with an alternate way to contact you.

●     Plan to remove from your office anything that belongs to you that you will need during a strike and to remove anything that belongs to you that you don’t want administrators using while you are on strike (e.g. course materials).

●     Be prepared to shut down any website that could provide assistance to someone teaching your class.



During a strike


5. What will happen if we strike? Will we not show up for class?

During a strike, striking members will not perform their usual duties, teaching, service, office hours, and university paid research. That means you do not teach classes while on strike.


6. What happens if my GAs don’t go on strike?

Graduate assistants need only continue to do the duties assigned by the terms of their appointment and nothing more. They cannot be required to extend their duties to cover for your absence, and you may advise them not to do so (not to be strikebreakers) should there be a strike.


7. What will happen if the strike is in the late-October to early-November window for the state ethics training?

Striking is a legal activity, so discipline for not completing the test is not an option. Compliance issues can be addressed in the back-to-work agreement should this become an issue during a strike.

8. Is there any cut in pay if I’m on sabbatical during a strike? How does the administration tell if I’m on strike, other than taking attendance on the picket line?

The administration cannot take attendance at the picket line, as that would likely be considered illegal surveillance. If faculty on sabbatical want to make sure the university administration knows that they are on strike, they can contact their chairs to inform the administration that they are not doing the research work approved for their sabbaticals because they are on strike.


9. I just returned from sabbatical. Will I have to return my sabbatical pay if I strike?

Assuming you work the university for a year after the sabbatical (time before the strike + time after the strike), you will have fulfilled the university’s requirement to work after the sabbatical and should not have to return the pay.

Questions for non-members

10. I’m in the Bargaining Unit but not a dues-paying FA member, can I strike? Will the IEA protect me if I do strike?

Yes and yes.  Everyone represented by the FA, including nonmembers, can strike. IEA legal assistance and similar protections are available to all represented faculty, although interest-free strike loans only are available to members. (More details about strike loans are available at http://siucunions.wordpress.com/strike-faqs/). To be fully protected, we advise all bargaining unit members to join the FA as soon as possible.


11. I’m in the FA Bargaining Unit, but I won’t go on strike. Can the administration force me to teach a class for another represented Faculty member who is on strike? If the GAs, ACsEs, or the NTTs strike, can the administration force me to do their work?

As a member of the Bargaining Unit, you are a protected educational employee. Protected educational employees can act in “mutual aid and protection” with other unionized educational employees. One aspect of “mutual aid and protection” is to not do more than your regular duty. Covering for striking employees is not a regular duty and not part of your workload assignment given last spring, so it is not a required part of your job.

12. I’m a department chair, so I’m not in the Faculty Association’s Bargaining Unit. Can the administration force me to teach a class for a represented Faculty member who is on strike? If the GAs, ACsE, the NTTs strike, can the administration force me to do their work?

Chairs, while not in a bargaining unit covered by a union contract, nevertheless are protected educational employees. Chairs can act in “mutual aid and protection” with unionized employees. Chair acting in mutual aid and protection of those on strike can do anything to support the FA so long as they do not refuse to do their regular duties.

13. I’m not in the Bargaining Unit of any union on strike, but I’m sympathetic. What can I do to help?

Let the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees know that you support the unions. The more vocal support all unions get, the more likely it is that the administration will come to a mutually agreeable understanding with the unions’ bargaining teams. Also let your friends, colleagues, and neighbors know how you feel. Be familiar with our issues and defend us. Walk the picket line on with us on your free time, during lunch, or before and after work. Solidarity can take as many forms as your creativity allows.



See also questions 11 and 12 above.


14. Can the administration hire people to teach my class? Can they tell colleagues who don’t strike to teach my class? Can my chair teach it?

The administration will attempt to make it seem as if everything is business as usual during a strike, and may well attempt to hire strikebreakers. The administration can try to pretend that a temporary worker, an administrator who hasn’t taught your class in years, or an overworked colleague or chair is not a pale substitute for what you would do, but that doesn’t make it so.

15. Will we have to accept work done by strikebreakers?

According to the university’s Code of Ethics for Faculty, faculty are required to, “make every reasonable effort to foster honest academic conduct and to assure that the evaluation of students reflects their true merit.” It is your responsibility to confirm that the grades you submit for a class accurately reflect students’ performance in the class. It would be your responsibility to determine whether work done in your absence is adequate for you to sign off on the grades in good conscience. Details of such matters may be covered in a back to work agreement negotiated during a strike.


After a Strike


16. What will happen when we come back to work?

As much as possible, we will return to work as usual and do the same work we’d done before the strike. The details of things like makeup work and lost pay would be handled in a back-to-work agreement as part of the new contract.


17. I’m an assistant professor. What reassurance can you give me that I won’t be punished by the administration or by anti-union colleagues for going on strike? How can I know I won’t be targeted for dismissal because I’m a member?

Retribution against striking workers is illegal. The FA/IEA will represent you if you believe that you are being punished for going on strike.


18. If we get it resolved within the same month, is there a blip in the paycheck (down in November by the # of days on strike)? Or are we paid back later, such as December, if our back-to-work agreement extends the semester or involves make-up days of some sort?

These issues depend on the dates and length of the strike, terms of the back to work agreement, and the ability of the payroll office to process paychecks.


19. How will a strike affect my retirement contribution and benefits? Can I make up payments into my retirement account (as was possible for furlough days)? How will a strike affect my retirement coming up soon?

It depends on the back to work agreement covering lost wages due to strike – if there are make-up days or work to restore the pay lost due to strike there is no negative effect. If there is lost pay that is not restored, you cannot make up payments to SURS. For information on how lost pay would affect your retirement, consult an SURS counselor, as many variables come into play.


20. What if my union settles before the other three? How will we support their strike?

Illinois education labor law does not permit us to participate in sympathy strikes, but we still can support the other unions in other ways. We can write the press and the Board of Trustees to encourage the administration to settle with ALL of the unions. We can refuse to do strikers’ work when pressured by the administration. We can join them on the picket line during our off-work hours.



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