FA Thank You Party

In appreciation for the many contributions of our members and supporters, the SIUC Faculty Association is sponsoring a Thank You Party from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. this Saturday, November 19 at Hangar 9 (511 S Illinois Avenue). All who supported the FA during the last couple of weeks are invited to share a little food and drink and celebrate our joint achievement in reaching the tentative agreement on the Faculty Association contract. Spouses or partners are welcome to come as well.  See you there.

The FA Strike is Over!

Dave Johnson just announced that the FA Department Representative Council (DRC) voted to end the strike. They do no have a tentative agreement yet but from his comments it sounded like the FA and the Board’s team had conceptual agreements on most everything but they needed to iron out specific language. I’m sure Dave will blog about this more extensively tomorrow so stay tuned!

Whose University?

We’re getting closer, minute by minute, hour by hour, to a fair settlement. Here’s the message Randy Hughes, FA president, sent out this morning as an update:

Progress to date. November 9, 2011

Today, Wednesday, November 9th, we’re still on strike. But there is good news, too. In twelve hours of negotiations, our bargaining team made progress on a number of fronts. We are near agreement on language that will ensure that we retain our right to pursue our Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge concerning the unilateral imposition of furlough days last spring. And there was also some progress on countering the inflammatory and disrespectful language in the BOT back to work proposal. But at 9:00 pm the two bargaining teams mutually agreed to break off work for the night and return to the bargaining table at 9:30 am on Wednesday.

Slow progress, while better than no progress at all, is frustrating. And we all want to be in the classroom rather than on the picket line. But it’s important to remember everything that our hard work and resolve has enabled us to achieve so far. We’ve protected tenure. We’ve ensured that administrators cannot force faculty to teach distance education against our own academic judgement. We’ve strengthened shared governance by strengthening the faculty’s ability to control their own operating papers. We’ve reached a workable compromise on overload pay. And we’ve established a schedule for dealing with procedures concerning Conflict of Interest and Sexual Harassment.

Most heartening of all may well be the incredible support we’ve received from SIUC students. Their support has not only helped us achieve progress at the bargaining table, but is a victory in itself – a victory for our university, its students, and the bond between faculty and students on campus.

While we’ve made much progress, several important issues remain. The BOT proposal on furloughs, while it has been improved since the terms imposed on us in the spring, still fails to provide adequate transparency and accountability. Their back to work proposal would not provide for the make up days we would like to offer to students whose classes have been covered by unqualified substitutes. While it contains new language protecting actions taken in support of the strike, it still gives the false impression that faculty have engaged in misconduct and threats. And the administration is still unwilling to offer us the same chance for securing fair share that it has offered other locals.

These issues are worth fighting for. And if we remain united in our commitment to securing a fair agreement, we have every reason to believe that we can reach one sooner rather than later.

On top of this, there were victories in Ohio as union-busting legislation was soundly defeated.

Unfortunately, we will probably have a real fight on our hands in Illinois. The IEA reports that SB512 — which would cut pension benefits for ACTIVE EMPLOYEES — moved out of committee yesterday. The pension systems for public employees are their retirement funds — they’re not eligible for social security (even if they paid into the system at another job). This came about because of a state failure to pay its bills — so why is the state trying to unconstitutionally punish employees for it’s own failures? Way to create jobs in OTHER states. I finish my degree in 2013. I don’t know where I’ll end up. I’m sorry to say this — because I really love Illinois, it’s my home — but I won’t be applying for jobs here thanks to the mess the state has made.

Finally, join us today at the Stone Center at 3pm. We want to let the Board of Trustees know whose university SIUC really is.

Pictures from Today’s Rally

Qualified Substitute

Qualified Substitute


Solidarity in Action

Solidarity in Action


I managed to take a few pictures today while the group was stationary (before and after the march) at Anthony Hall. You can check them out on our flickr photostream.

While we hope we won’t need to — if we do, don’t forget to join us tomorrow at 3pm at the Stone Center. We can deliver our message directly to the Board of Trustees executive committee.

Rally Wednesday at 3:00 pm, Stone Center

The executive committee of the SIU Board of Trustees will meet at the Stone Center tomorrow afternoon. We will rally there at 3:00 PM to give them some advice on how to end this strike: with a fair contract for SIUC faculty.  Join us.

RALLY

WEDNESDAY 3:00 PM

STONE CENTER

1400 Douglas Dr.

In the happy event of a contract settlement in the meantime we will gladly let the BOT executive team meet in peace.

Pensions

I realize it’s hard to think about anything beyond the immediate situation here at SIUC, but things are happening legislatively with pensions. I just received this information from the IEA:

ISSUE – This afternoon, a legislative committee is expected to hear the new amendment to the pension cutting bill (SB 512) 

The amendment to Senate Bill 512 was filed yesterday. It deals with the specifics of the pension bill and addresses the problems in the original proposal that would have made the bill a disaster for the pension systems and Illinois taxpayers had it passed in its original form last spring.

 Among the key provisions of the revised bill:

§  The employee contribution for TRS members who elect to stay in Tier 1 would increase to 13.77% of salary (from 9.4% of salary currently) beginning July 1, 2013 until June 30, 2016.  Beginning on July 1, 2016 the contribution could only increase an additional 2% to a maximum of 15.77% of salary.  The amendment also increases the contribution rates for those in SURS to 15.31% of salary during the same period (currently, 8% of salary).  The final increase in contributions for SURS would put the member’s contribution at 17.31% of salary beginning in July 1, 2016.  It is understood that after the first three years of the contribution increase, that the recalculation, as required by the amendment, will force member’s contributions up to the maximum increase of 2% whether they are in TRS or SURS.

§  The amendment changes the timeline for election and when it would apply to current member benefits.  All benefits earned after July 1, 2013 would be impacted by either the new Tier 1 contribution level, participation in Tier 2 or participation in the DC plan.

§  The increase in employee contribution cannot be used for the purpose of calculating the money purchase plan under the act.  This is a clear decrease in an existing benefit.

§  In school districts where the employee contribution is currently being paid by the employer the additional contribution required under the legislation would have to be renegotiated.  This changes the terms of existing contracts.  This is a new provision of the legislation.

PLEASE SHARE THIS INFORMATION WITH YOUR COLLEAGUES AND ALL MEMBERS WITH WHOM YOU HAVE CONTACT

IEA members are encouraged to contact legislators about SB 512:

Message – IEA opposes SB 512 because:

It is an unconstitutional diminishment of pension benefits
As teachers cannot receive full social security benefits, even when they qualify through other employment,  their pensions are their life savings
Our members have always paid their retirement costs; it is the state that has not kept its part of the bargain
Reasonable retirement benefits allow public education to attract the teachers and staff our students deserve
 
Actions

IEA members are urged to contact state legislators immediately.
Call 888/412-6570 and follow the prompts to be connected to your legislator . Use the above talking points, or
Go to the IEA website, click on the pension tab at the top of the page and you will see a link that will let you easily send an e-mail to your legislators.
Tell lawmakers to oppose SB 512 for for the reasons cited above
More information is available on the IEA website
 

Speechless

The title of this post is particularly apt today. I’m normally a person who is pretty good at writing and speaking. I know the right things to say to get my point across (part of a mispent youth as an English major before turning to Sociology). But last night and today as I sit down to write this post with updates and information, with news and commentary, I find I can’t. There really are no words to sum up my thoughts and reactions to the swelling support. To students rallying around the faculty who are their teachers, mentors, and in many cases, friends. I don’t have a good way to express what the activism, the creativity, and the solidarity make me feel. Maybe that’s the way it should be. It really shows the value of the people on this campus and how much everyone cares about the health and future of SIUC.

I know that even when this strike, this labor crisis, ends, the community we – students, faculty, and staff – have built will live on. And maybe that’s all that needs to be said: we have gotten stronger together and we will continue to get stronger and our voices will continue to get louder. That’s something we all can be proud of.

Student Rally the Sequel: 3:30pm outside of Anthony Hall today. Let’s tell the administration it’s time to do what is right and fair and end this today.