Legislative Update

DAYS WITHOUT A CONTRACT: 425

One of my many union hats is as a member of the IEA Higher Education Council, which is a state-wide body designed to advocate for higher ed members within the IEA organization. This is my fourth, and final, year on the council and it’s been a really interesting and rewarding experience. What it does give me is access to lot of IEA people. We had a meeting this weekend in Springfield, which meant I got a legislative update directly from the IEA’s Higher Ed lobbyist, Gaye Larison. Some things she told us I thought everyone would be interested in:

Right now, one of the biggest issues for higher ed as we move into the veto session is performance funding. IEA is sitting on a task force with labor, management, and an outside consulting firm from Ohio. I believe this is the same committee Rita Cheng sits on (though don’t quote me on that because I could be wrong). The first business meeting of this committee is tomorrow and it sounds like the metrics discussed have only been completion rates and graduation rates for different populations.

As far as health insurance, there’s been a lot of rumbling in the capital. The Speaker, Mike Madigan, has expressed several times that he wants the state out of the insurance business completely, so you may see more wrangling with that after the temporary extension of contracts is up. In contrast to Madigan’s “hands off” approach, Governor Quinn has been trying to come up with a program where state employees pay more for health insurance. He wants to tier how much you pay based on how long you’ve worked and your age. This push apparently “has legs” in the capital but, as Gaye said, Quinn hasn’t been very successful with the legislature recently either. We don’t know if this new plan would grandfather in current retirees either. What happens really would depend on the bargaining with AFSCME because most of the state’s employees are members of that union.

She also made a plea that higher ed members go to IEA recommendation hearings to address and explain higher ed issues. Apparently, most legislators need to be educated that there is more than just K-12 in the public system let alone the challenges we face. Next year is an election year and, given the redistricting, it could be a hot one. I’ll post dates of local hearings when they’re set.

If anyone wants more information on any of these issues, leave a comment! I’ll get in touch with Gaye and try and get answers for you.

EVENT REMINDERS:
Sign-Making Party:
Monday August 29th
AAA Storage, 2524 Old Highway 13 Carbondale from 5:00-7:00pm
We’ll be making signs in preparation for our Labor Day Demonstration; good people, good fun; come join us!

GAU Open Meeting
Wednesday August 31
Lawson 231, 6pm-7:30pm
Come meet the GAU officers, bargaining team members, get informed about who we are, what we do, and what will happen if we cannot come to an agreement with the university.
The first 10 signed in attendees will receive a free 2GB flash drive!

Labor Day Demonstration: Support Quality Education
Thursday September 1
The intersection of 51 and Grand Avenue, 11am-1pm
This rally is to support quality education provided by professionals — faculty, staff, and graduate assistants — who will (on Thursday) have been working 428 days without a contract. If you support labor, if you support the people who are the heart of the university, if you support fair contracts, if you support SIUC and the SIUC community — show up! Show the administration we’re serious about what we do and settling the open contracts. You can also see the event on Facebook.

NTTFA Social Event
Tuesday September 6
Callahan’s, 4-6pm
Meet and greet the NTT leadership. All NTT represented are welcome. First drink is on us.

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