Now the Hard Part Starts

DAYS WITHOUT A CONTRACT: 429

I said in the brief interview I gave with Codell Rodriguez of the Southern yesterday that I hope Anthony Hall was listening. The truth is — we knew they were listening even before we showed up outside.

How did we know?

Email announcements from Rita Cheng in two days: the first her report about the Higher Learning Commission Staff Analysis of Institutional Report and the Financial Progress Report for the Higher Learning Commission, both of which Dave Johnson has blogged about. Yesterday afternoon, the message from the Chancellor was about the economic impact SIUC has on the local economy. So, she’s responding, but her response seems to be the usual tactic of ‘pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!’ and other attempts of redirection and putting the best foot forward. It’s great that the university contributes so much to the economies around the Carbondale and Springfield campus… but these don’t address the real questions the unions are asking and make Cheng seem even more out of touch with reality. How does this create job security? Won’t spending drop for the non-tenure track faculty who are going from 9-month appointments to 4 and a half month appointments and are not sure if they’ll have a job in the spring? Isn’t there a negative impact when civil service employees are being laid off (I think the last number I remember hearing of ACsE jobs lost was around 90, though I hope someone better in the know will post the right number in a comment)? How does this create a good health care system? What’s the economic impact of a graduate assistant who is pregnant or has a pregnant partner? Is the money they’re paying out of pocket to the hospital (because maternity care is not provided by SIUC) counted as part of the local economy in this study? How does this create a good tenure system? What’s the economic impact of the dozens of faculty retirements as they looked at the changes to the pension system and what the SIUC administration had done in the imposed terms and conditions to their form of job security (tenure) and decided to get out while they still could?

I’m still waiting to hear those answers. Not just from President Poshard or Chancellor Cheng — though they’ve got to step up — but from all the employees at SIUC. We had 400 people at the rally yesterday. There were 3000 we didn’t. Some of them were likely there in spirit but had classes to teach or meetings to go to. Other obligations. But not everyone has that excuse. It’s time for those 3000 absent to start thinking — and answering — what do I really want? Do I want to keep my head down, continue to be afraid, and accept whatever the administration wants to dish out? Or am I ready to stand up and fight for what’s important to me?

The time when members are called upon to do just that is coming. And it’s coming soon.

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