Update March 11, 2011

Update from the SIUC Faculty Association, IEA-NEA

March 11, 2011

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.

More information can be found in the NTTFA Statement on Negotiations which is available on their web site: www.siuntt.org .

SIUC finances
In negotiating with the SIUC Faculty Association, the Administration Bargaining Team has stated that they don’t have to justify the fiscal basis for furloughs; they want the furlough days, regardless. Nevertheless, the Administration continues to make assertions about SIUC’s budget shortfall or deficit. Reports in the media variously quote President Glenn Poshard and Chancellor Rita Cheng citing amounts of $15.3 million, $13 million, etc.

Although a “shortfall” may be confused with a “deficit,” these terms have different meanings. A shortfall is in the end a fictional construct based on expectations and speculation. For example, if you plan to win the Lotto this week, and you don’t, you will have a “shortfall” because you took in less than you expected. But if you still spend less than you took in, you’ll end up with a surplus, even if you don’t win the Lotto. The Administration cites a “shortfall” of $4.8 million in tuition income in FY 2010. That means we took in less than what was initially projected. Still, the actual Income Fund revenue was $7.2 million more than FY 2009 while expenditures from the Income Fund were reduced to the extent that SIUC had an $8.4 million surplus in the Income Fund for FY 2010.

A deficit on the other hand means that expenditures exceed revenues. One reason given for projected deficits this year is the non-renewal of the federal stimulus money. However, it was known long ago that this funding was not going to be renewed. Consequently expenses were reduced and hiring was frozen to such an extent that SIUC ran a large surplus in FY 2010. This surplus was so large, that even had we not received the federal stimulus money, the Appropriation and Income Funds at SIUC would still have run a surplus. Thus we ended FY 2010 with a sustainable surplus. So what about FY 2011? As the Chancellor notes, tuition income is up this year, despite an enrollment drop, due to the truth-in-tuition pricing structure. On the other hand, our units have made drastic cuts in personnel and other expenses. Salary costs for the faculty in our bargaining unit alone have declined this year by $1.9 million. How does this produce a deficit?

The university has now released official figures, and the official audit, for the last fiscal year. These figures confirm our analysis that cuts already made have left SIUC in a solid fiscal situation that does not justify the administration’s demands on campus unions and employees.

• SIUC ran a $15.8 million dollar budget surplus last year, according to the Fiscal Year 2010 Year End Financial Performance Report. (http://vpfinance.siu.edu/FY10%20Year%20End%20report.pdf)

• The official state audit of SIU concludes that “the University’s financial picture remained strong” at the end of FY 2010; citation from page 6).

Finally, the Chancellor herself has usually been careful not to cite late payments from the state as a justification for furloughs, but President Poshard has not always been so careful, and it is natural for these delayed payments to contribute to the sense of unease about the budget. Presumably the reason the Chancellor has not made late payments a justification for furloughs is because late payments from the state could only justify, at most, late payments to faculty and staff. And the administration has shown no interest in securing loans from staff, instead demanding non-refundable pay cuts this year.

Clarification about upcoming closure days
You may have received a “message from Human Resources” today concerning unpaid closure days which includes the statement:

“If your classification is covered by the ACsE (IEA/NEA) collective bargaining agreement, then this unpaid closure day does apply to you.”

This refers to the fact that the SIUC Administration is imposing the terms of their offer on the civil service workers represented by ACsE effective March 11, and so is compelling these workers to take the unpaid closure day. The Faculty Association is still negotiating over our contract and the administration has not imposed furloughs on faculty represented by the Faculty Association. For faculty in our unit, March 15 and all other days during Spring Break are treated just like any other Spring Break in past years, except that some university offices and services are shut down on the closure days.