February, 2014 Newsletter

Happy New Year, and happy new semester!  Hope you are enduring the never-ending cold snaps without too many frozen pipes or toes.  Here are updates on some ongoing and/or upcoming developments on our campus:
UPDATE: COEHS reorganization rejected by Grad Council and Faculty Senate
On December 5, 2013, the SIUC Graduate Council voted down (7 for, 15 against, 1 abstention) a resolution supporting the administrations’ ill-conceived plan for program eliminations and mergers in COEHS.  The Faculty Senate voted to table indefinitely a similar resolution by a vote of 14 to 9.  COEHS Faculty and Association activists had worked for more than a year in an effort to assure meaningful Faculty participation in addressing enrollment, budgeting, and staffing problems in the College, maintaining ongoing communication with their colleagues and taking part in the Grad Council and Faculty Senate review processes.  In accordance with both bodies’ by-laws, the plan was carefully reviewed by the Grad Council’s New Programs Committee, and the Senate’s University Education Policy Committee (UEPC), both of which found that the plan needed further development by the College administration before consideration for the full body.  In spite of these recommendations, individual leaders in both bodies submitted supporting resolutions for votes, thereby circumventing the prescribed review process.  These maneuvers, however, resulted in the negative votes.  Reportedly, the RME is now on the desk of President Poshard, awaiting his decision on whether to forward the plan to the Board of Trustees despite the clear sentiments of Faculty and the evident inadequacy of the plan, or to work in the spirit of shared governance with Faculty and our representative bodies to address the problems in COEHS.
UPDATE: Syllabus directive grievance goes to arbitration
Last spring, a group of Faculty filed a grievance through the Faculty Association against the directive issued in March, 2013, that mandated Faculty submission of electronic copies of syllabi to departments for posting online and in a centralized repository.  This directive violated Article 10 of our contract, which already lays out the Faculty’s responsibilities regarding syllabi.  The administration never discussed the directive in relation to the contract and rebuffed contact from the FA.  Since agreed-upon syllabi provisions already exist, the Provost cannot unilaterally change them. Last summer the Association submitted the grievance for arbitration.  The arbitration hearing was held on Friday, January 17. Provost Nicklow appeared as the administration’s witness; President Rachel Stocking, former President Randy Hughes, and Grievance Committee Co-Chair Aldo Migone gave testimony for the Association. Now, both sides will file written closing arguments, and the arbitrator will make his decision, probably before the end of the current semester.  The Association leadership argues that genuine Faculty participation in University policy-making should be respected and preserved, in this case through the mechanisms of the collective bargaining agreement.
UPDATE: Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) on Faculty Furloughs
The Faculty Association’s ULP against the SIUC administration for the illegal furlough days imposed in Spring, 2011, was heard by a labor board judge on December 3 and 4, 2013.  The Association lawyer argued that the imposition was illegal in two ways: first, the administration bargaining team pursued “surface bargaining” (i.e., bad faith bargaining) designed to lead to a bargaining impasse; second, the impasse was declared and the terms containing the furloughs were imposed without the administration first officially cancelling the prior contract, a requirement contained in that prior contract.  The next step in this legally binding procedure is for the two parties to file final briefs with the judge, who will then issue a decision.
UPDATE: Ongoing Negotiations
The Faculty Association’s Departmental Representative Council (DRC) voted at its November, 2013 meeting to approve the tentative agreement on discrimination and sexual harassment policy reached by the Association and administration bargaining teams last fall.  This policy will now become part of our collective bargaining agreement.  The Association team is still awaiting a new proposal from the administration on conflict of interest policy, and bargaining meetings are still ongoing on departmental Credit Hour Equivalency operating paper amendments that were rejected by the Provost’s office in Spring, 2013.
UPCOMING: Faculty Association Bargaining Survey
Faculty volunteers, including the entire Association Executive Committee, have been working hard on developing a bargaining survey to be distributed online to all bargaining unit Faculty. We are now in the final stages of development, and should have it online soon; you will get an email with a link to the survey. PLEASE respond, and take some time to familiarize yourself with the contract (links to relevant contract language will be provided for questions on the survey).  This information is vital to the Association’s bargaining team: we need to know what Faculty members are most concerned about; at the same time, and it is in your own interest to be as well-informed as possible.
UPCOMING: Bargaining a new contract
Our current contract expires on June 30 of this year.  Bargaining should begin sometime later this semester.  According to the Association by-laws, the Association bargaining team will consist of 5 union members, appointed by the President and approved by the Executive Committee, as well as our IEA staff-person, Bret Seferian.  The Association’s Department Representative Council (DRC) plays a central role in negotiations: it determines Association bargaining concerns and priorities; approves the initial package of bargaining proposals; meets at regular intervals with the bargaining team; communicates with the bargaining team on behalf of the general membership, and vice versa. Finally, the DRC votes on tentative agreements between the bargaining team and the administration before submitting the tentative contract to the Faculty Association membership for approval.
The DRC, which should consist of one representative (FA member) from every department, is currently on a once-a-month meeting schedule, which may become more frequent once bargaining begins. Unfortunately, there are a number of departments that are not currently represented.  If you are in one of these departments, please urge your colleagues to elect a DRC member in order to have full participation in the bargaining process (DRC representatives must be dues-paying Association members). DRC meetings are also open to all dues-paying members of the Association.
UPCOMING and ONGOING: Membership recruitment and volunteers
We need as many members as possible!  Bargaining strength demands membership strength!  Please contact your DRC representative, or me (stocking.rachel@gmail.com) for membership information.  Those of you who are already members: We need as many activists and volunteers as possible!  Bargaining is time and energy consuming.  We are all volunteers, and we need help to be as responsible to the Faculty as we can.  We are all “the union.”
UPCOMING: Party time!
We’re planning another party; the tentative date is February 21, 6 to 8 p.m. Watch your email for details, bring colleagues, have fun.
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