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.

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One thought on “Whose University?

  1. I would like to wish ALL of my IEA colleagues the best in this dispute. You will get past this and come out a stronger membership in the end. I attended SIUC in 1981, and my son is currently a junior in physics and math theory. He is a dedicated symphony member as well. We both have a vested interest in seeing that administration understand the critical importance in working with staff to reach an agreement that benefits all involved. I do not want to see SIUC loose students that have a history to make in our nation after leaving this fine university. I do not want to see students have to make the decision not to return because SIUC can no longer offer the expert training the professors offer. I am a state IEA GPA fighting for our pensions. I have been through two strikes in my 23 years as a middle school science educator, and I want everyone to know that you will come out stronger if you stick together and stay focused on what is important. It is a time in history that could be perceived as quite dim, but I see the pendulum swinging back again towards greater respect for educators and a push towards higher standards for our curriculum. You have our support statewaide! Go DAWGS! Anne Elwood

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