Early Morning Edition


I am a morning person — just not usually this early!

Yesterday’s Board meeting saw dissent again, according to the Daily Egyptian. Lowery and Mannering, two of the trustees who voted no to raises at SIUC also voted no yesterday when the Board considered SIUE raises: “Lowery said he could not approve the changes in faculty and administrative payrolls while union members at SIUC are still without contracts.” Lowery explained his no vote fairly succinctly: “As I stated in the July meeting, until we have reached an accord with all our constituents, I must oppose all further promotional or pay increases and all new hires.”

This shows our actions at Board meetings have been working and should continue as much as possible. The Board is a pressure point for getting things done — name getting a fair contract that makes everyone happy and addresses the legitimate needs of employees.

Coupled with that is a nice editorial in the Southern about the logo: “Logo change a poor decision.” The final editorial, “Money should go to education,” is about K-12 educational funding priorities… but it applies just as much to the decisions the SIUC administration has been making.

Upcoming Events:
Struggles in Steel: The Fight for Equal Opportunity, over 70 African-American steel workers speak about their struggles for fair treatment during both their 125-year industry as well as after shutdown
A part of the labor film series sponsored by the SIUC Labor Coalition
Sunday September 18, 2pm
Admission is free and family is welcome!


BOT Meeting


Some of you already know the Board met yesterday in a special session. According to their posting, the business of the day was a discussion of the marketing blitz, deferred maintenance, and setting “FY2012 Presidential goals.” Then they might have moved to a closed session to discussion of a lot of things that sound like us (e.g., pending/probable court proceedings, employment appointment and dismissal, collective negotiation matters). Now, I didn’t make it to the meeting yesterday, though from the news reports, I wish I had:

SIU board gets rattled [The Southern]
Board questions chancellor’s marketing plan [Daily Egyptian]

It sounds like there’s some dissention in the Board ranks, as a few of the Board members called Cheng and Poshard out for making their decision on the new logo change and not getting approval — or even notifying the Board (the Chairman, Roger Herrin, actually said his first look at it was in the Southern). You’ll also notice that the two names mentioned for speaking up — Lowery and Mannering — were also the two BOT members who spoke up at the July 14th meeting. There’s nothing in either article about the other items on the Board’s agenda. If anyone went and would like to comment, I’d appreciate it!

What the Administration Says

I promised in my post yesterday to talk a little about the reports Glenn Poshard and Rita Cheng gave to the Board today. I was taking notes on my phone and I’m not the fastest two-thumb typist, so you’ll have to forgive any errors or things I missed.

President Poshard reported mainly on the state of the budget and legislative actions taken in Springfield, including steep cuts to K-12 education and other agencies. There were cuts planned to higher education and the potential of further reductions in the future. At the moment, there are no current grant cuts being made. Overall the appropriations levels are lower as the legislature is looking for money to pay bills; Poshard reported that at current levels about 6-8 million of the state’s debt will be paid off next year. The cash flow situation of the university is of concern, however, as the state owes 45% of its appropriation to SIU (last year at this time, they only owed 35%). He says they plan to continue to monitor the situation, work with the comptroller to ensure SIU can make payroll. Apparently, 2.2 million (or a 1.6% reduction) was cut from state funding for SIU and the Monetary Award Program (MAP) was cut, reducing the state aid to students (which I imagine may hurt both enrollment and retention, given the demographics of our students here).

Much of Chancellor’s Cheng’s report reflected things she has already said earlier this week in her WSIU Morning Conversation interview, so if you heard that, you probably already know what’s coming. She reported an enrollment increase for summer and optimism about enrollment for fall. Freshmen applications are up, transfer student applications are up, and SIUC is anticipating an increase in tuition and fee revenue. She has instituted a “2.5 percent permanent” cut across the university and furloughs were a “one time critical savings” measure. She anticipates that the SIUC budget will be balanced by the end of FY12. The administration is continuing to work on the new branding, including new publications for prospective students and websites, and expects the new designs to be unveiled next month. Apparently, there were seven employees trained for “customer service” who are now getting ready to train others across the university (though she never explained the purpose of this “customer service” training — who are the customers being served? Students? Alumni? Parents? Faculty?) She also gave a quick rundown of the upcoming building projects, such as the tearing down the parking garage near Faner, expansion of parking lots, some heating and air condition upgrades in the Engineering building and Faner, and technology upgrades. Finally, she reported that grant funding is up at 68.3 million.

Basically, the tone of both reports seemed to be that, despite the lack of state funding, the university is on its way to turning around the financial situation.

This is, of course, especially ironic given that there has always been questions about exactly how dire that financial situation really is. However, the really interesting statement about the budget wasn’t made by either Poshard or Cheng, but rather by Roger Herrin, the chair of the Board of Trustees. When the meeting started, he had a few opening remarks — including making “greater financial transparency” a goal of the Board.

The Board of Trustees Hears Our Message

Today’s showing at the Board of Trustees meeting was very successful! Fifty-five people showed up to the Board meeting and those of us wearing black far outnumbered everyone else! During the public comment portion of the BOT meeting, we had two speakers:

Kristi Brownfield, on behalf of Graduate Assistants United, delivered a statement urging the Board to make the public commitment to improve student health care by agreeing to follow the guidelines set out in the new Patient Affordable Health Care Act. You can read a text version of her remarks here:

GAU Health Care BOT Statement 07-14-2011 [PDF]

After Kristi was finished, William Stodden, a member of GAU, came to the podium to deliver our message about bargaining. He delivered the statement on behalf of the presidents of the four IEA-NEA unions on campus, the Association of Civil Service Employees, the Faculty Association, Graduate Assistants United, and the Non-Tenure Track Faculty Association. The letter asks the Board of Trustees to urge the teams bargaining on their behalf to come to the table and settle contracts. The 3400 members of those four unions have been working without a contract for 379 days as of July 14, 2011. You can read a text version of his comments here:

Union Presidents’ Letter to the Board of Trustees 07-14-2011 [PDF]

We also have video of Stodden delivering the statement available here on Youtube (via shaky camera phone, so I apologize for the quality!).

News coverage:
Union members protest to SIU board [The Southern]
Unions protest at BOT meeting [The Southern]
Two vote no on SIUC payroll increase [The Southern]
“379″ Unions protest at SIU board meeting [Illinois Education Association]
SIU Trustees Questions New Hires and Pay Raises for SIUC [WSIU]
Unions stand out at Board of Trustees meeting [Daily Egyptian]

379 Days Without A Contract

Union Members Holding the Contract Count

Union Members Filling the Seats

Union Members Filling the Seats







Pictures taken by David Vitoff during the meeting:

Cheng's Eye View of the BOT Meeting 07-14-2011

Cheng's Eye View of the BOT Meeting 07-14-2011

William Stodden Delivering the Letter to the BOT 07-14-2011

William Stodden Delivering the Letter to the BOT 07-14-2011

Members Remain Resolute in Front of the BOT 07-11-2011

Members Remain Resolute in Front of the BOT 07-11-2011

Kristi Brownfield Delivers GAU's Statement Regarding the Current Inadequate Student Health Care 07-11-2011

Kristi Brownfield Delivers GAU's Statement Regarding the Current Inadequate Student Health Care 07-11-2011

Labor Coalition Members Give a Standing Ovation After William Stodden Presents Letter 07-11-2011

Labor Coalition Members Give a Standing Ovation After William Stodden Presents Letter 07-11-2011

Enrollment Up, Give the BOT A Message

The Southern picked up on SIUC’s enrollment increase this summer: Enrollment increase encouraging. Essentially, the administration says that the increase is a “start” to growing the university. What caught my eye, however, was this:

Increases in enrollment have benefitted Southern Illinois University Ed-wardsville as the SIU Board of Trustees will vote Thursday on a salary plan for fiscal year 2011 that could increase employee salaries by as much as 2.5 percent. According to the meeting agenda, state funding left the increases in question but the increases in enrollment made the changes to sala-ries possible.

This makes it even more important we have a presence at Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting. The SIUC Labor Coalition, comprised of all four locals on the SIUC campus, is organizing a collective action for July 14th. On that day the SIU Board of Trustees will be meeting at approximately 10:00 in Ballroom B of the Student Center. Our plan is to gather in the lobby outside the ballrooms at 9:45 am. From there, we will go into the ballroom together, take seats, and hold up signs that simply say the number “379.” As of July 14th, this will be the number of days that SIUC employees will have been working without a contract. One person will be designated to hold up a larger sign that reads “How Many Days Without a Contract?”

The public comment portion of the meeting is scheduled for approximately 10:30 (the schedule is not always exact, so please allow for the possibility that it may happen a bit later). At that time, a Labor Coalition spokesperson will read a public statement to the BOT on behalf of all four IEA locals. The statement will convey our concerns about the gravity of the labor crisis at SIUC and our sincere hope that the BOT will join with us in preserving collective bargaining rights on our campus. At the end of the public comment portion of the meeting, we’ll distribute copies of the statement to fellow audience members, board members, and the press.

We are asking everyone to wear black to this action as a show of solidarity. Please help spread the word about this action and attend if at all possible. It is crucial that we show the Board that union power on this campus is strong.

SIUC unions to air grievances to board of trustees [The Southern]

New Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Announced

Chancellor Cheng has just announced the name of the appointee to the position vacated by Gary Minish (Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs) in January: John Nicklow.

The appointment still has to to be approved by the Board of Trustees, however, so we’ll see what happens next.

Speaking of the BOT, on their agenda today is voting on proposed tuition and fee increases. The tuition increase proposed by the administration sits at 6.9% (or $504 for undergraduate tuition and $542 for regular graduate tuition — the totals are different for the medical school and the law school). Fees are proposed to move up $68.80 for both undergraduates and graduates. This increase would put total cost of tuition and fees for undergraduates at $11,037.88 and $11,652.28 for graduate students (this is resident tuition and fees).