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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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.

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.

FATV and Meeting Reminder

SIUC Faculty Association Strike – Day 2 from Faculty Association on Vimeo.

I received this fantastic video last night. It really cuts through the issues and provides some nice perspectives from people on the line. Thanks to the hard work of the “FATV” group (whose names I will add to this post after I doublecheck all crediting) on getting this completed.

For all faculty, don’t forget there’s a meeting open to the entire bargaining unit TONIGHT at 5pm at the Carbondale Civic Center.

I’m also adding a few more letters of support for the FA and their fight for fairness later today (when I get to a computer with less email formatting issues), including a letter from the National Education Association’s President Dennis Van Roekel. The support for the faculty is there. This is a hard but winnable fight — the administration’s willingness to finally return to bargaining is a key sign of that. Keep the pressure up until the faculty are able to do what they really want to be doing: returning to work with a fair tentative agreement!

FA Updates

Randy Hughes, FA President, and Morteza Daneshdoost, the FA’s bargaining chair made two announcements at the after-picketing dinner tonight:

There will be an open meeting for ALL FACULTY, whether you are a FA member or not, SUNDAY at the Carbondale Civic Center, from 5-7pm. Everyone is encouraged to come to get the most up-to-date information about bargaining and the strike.

And, even better, we have real proof that the pressure of pickets, community members calling the Board and the administration, and the strike has been successful so far: the administration just reached out to Morteza Daneshdoost to set up a bargaining session.

The pressure got the administration back to the table to bargain with the FA. Now we turn the heat up so they can get a fair settlement!

Multimedia Galore!

All right, here’s the multimedia I received over the last few hours:

Don't Hate Negotiate

Don't Hate Negotiate


Photos from the picket lines
A group of 40+ students and community members march through the student center in solidarity with the FAU still on strike at SIUC [Youtube]
SIUC student and community protest march [Youtube]

I have reports of about two or three more videos that are supposed to be coming. I’ll add them to this page when I can. If any of you out there have pictures, video, audio, or anything else you’d like to share, leave a comment!

Three Down, One to Go

I apologize about the lack of information/more comprehensive posts over the last couple of days. Your blogging team was either pretty tied up in bargaining (Wednesday) or dealing with getting the strike organized and running (Thursday). So there’s a lot of information and links to report out today!

Obviously, the university managed to reach and compromise with three of the four IEA-NEA unions: the Association of Civil Service Employees, Graduate Assistants United, and the Non-Tenure Track Faculty Association. The reports I hear from the FA bargaining team really sound like they administration was really unwilling to do the same thing with them.

But the support we’ve got from non-SIU unions, from the community, from people nationally, is phenomenal. I added a page (which you can find up in the menu) to start collecting messages of support and other places you can leave them. So if you have well-wishes you’d like to give — there’s where to go!

Apparently there’s also a rally in the works: Solidarity Rally for the striking SIUC Faculty Association. This will be at the Carbondale town square (Northeast corner of E. Main St. (ILL Rte 13) & N. Illinois Ave. (US Rte 51)) from 12-3pm. I also heard there might be another student organized solidarity rally on Monday but I don’t have specific information on that; I’ll provide it when I have it.

Sigma Tau Delta, which is an English honor society, posted this on GAUnited’s Facebook page yesterday:

To show support for our faculty, as President of the Rho Delta Chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, I have contacted a local t-shirt company regarding the purchase of maroon t-shirts with white lettering with the following message, “I (symbol of heart) SIU-C Faculty”.

Marsha L. Griffiths
President
Rho Delta Chapter
Sigma Tau Delta

If you’d like one, please email her with your size at: marshalgriffiths@siu.edu.

There’s also Occupy SIUC, which seems to have a really good “on the ground” list of things happening on campus (I’m actually working at strike HQ today). So that’s a blog to watch!

Feel free to comment or send me more information of events as you hear about them!