Administrative Spin, Informal Polling, and Student Movements

DAYS WITHOUT A CONTRACT: 456

Today Chancellor Cheng gave her “2011 State of the University” address to a pretty packed house. I meant to take pictures but things moved too quickly before she started and as people shuffled out (sorry!). Forgive any errors as I was taking notes on the fly while the Chancellor talked:

Cheng began with introductions of various administrators and community members and then moved into a discussion of the labor situation. She repeated that she is “extremely disappointed” and thinks agreements are possible if we take the time and realistic looks at the issues. She reiterated the “availability” of board teams and emphasized she “remains committed to fiscally responsible solutions.” Cheng mentioned a post on her website as a response to questions that were being asked (possibly this one: http://chancellor.siuc.edu/labor/ despite the lack of information?). Then she moved onto the deficit and how the deficit was taken care of, projecting this year as having a balanced budget. She addressed the declines in state budgets and anxiety over higher tuition and fees. She mentioned that the administration and Poshard are watching the pension debate. Cheng moved onto how performance funding is coming and the metrics are focused on completion and retention (still no specifics). She addressed the changing federal funding landscape for education and research. Cheng then moved onto breaking down the impact report that went out earlier this semester on how much SIUC contributes to the Illinois economy. She then moved to our “successes,” such as our ranking moving up in US News & World Report ranking, high percentage of full time faculty, graduation and retention rates going up, high volunteerism, and so forth. After a long iteration of accomplishments, she snuck in a mention of a task force to assess and make sure programs are meeting goals. Then came the distance ed notes – basically it’s here, growing, and “making a positive influence in the lives of out students.” Next came the discussion of the Center for Teaching and Learning Assistance, University College, the new student convocation (though no mention of the fee assessed to students for that), and Saluki Start-Up. Then came deferred maintainance and how we need to be “very strategic on how we allocate resources.” She gave us a timeline on the new student sevices building (spring 2012), a new housing plan which will be available toward the end of the semester. She moved onto the enrollment change and claimed we “are turning the corner.” Then Cheng moved onto the marketing initiative and how “it was more then the new logo.” She said it was “time to change the story” – and that is what the branding is supposed to do. Next came the Strategic Planning (not the announcement of one, but the announcement of completing one). She finished with an emphasis on how the “we,” SHARED GOVERNANCE, will keep us a quality university.

Basically, this was nothing we haven’t seen before in the DE or The Southern.

There’s also been reports of informal polling happening across campus. So if someone in a supervisory or administrative position starts asking you questions like:

  • What does your job entail?
  • Can you train these people to do your job?
  • Is your syllabus available?
  • What hours are your classes?
  • When are you supposed to be in the lab?

CONTACT YOUR UNION. Even these questions (especially asking if you will train replacements) can be considered intimidation and interference — WHICH IS ILLEGAL. Please let us know if you are experiencing anything like this!

There’s also been some movement among the students regarding the labor crisis:
Strike Warning for SIUC Students – Facebook
SIUC Strike Warning – Twitter

Both sites include a call to action, asking people to contact the Board of the Trustees, President Poshard, and Chancellor Cheng and tell them to settle:

Ms. Misty Whittington
Executive Secretary of the Board
Office of the Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees
(618) 536-3357

Rita Cheng: rcheng@siu.edu
SIUC Chancellor
(618) 453-2341

Glenn Poshard: poshard@siu.edu
SIU President
(618) 536-3357

Upcoming Events:
Friday September 30: GA United Strike Authorization Vote
Friday September 30: ACsE Nomination and Candidate Form Due
Friday September 30, 4:40-6pm, Blue Martin: NTTFA Informational Meeting
Wednesday October 5, 5pm: Informational Meeting for Students About Striking

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Joint ULPs Filed

The Association of Civil Service Employees (ACsE), Faculty Association (FA), Graduate Assistants United (GAU), and the Non-Tenure Track Faculty Association (NTT) all filed Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges against the SIUC Board of Trustees today. The charges assert that the SIUC administration has “interfered with, restrained, and coerced” SIUC employees in exercising their legal rights and “failed and refused to bargain in good faith” with each of the four locals. In addition to that main charge, ACsE, FA, and NTT, also charged bad faith bargaining due to the SIUC administration “declaring impasse, and unlawfully unilaterally imposing terms and conditions of employment.” Finally, the NTT filed an additional allegation of bad faith on behalf of the faculty in the Head Start program when the university unilaterally changed the 2011 Spring Break of teachers in the program without negotiation.

What does that mean? Basically it means we allege that the administration has not engaged in good faith bargaining and many of the actions they have taken — such as the “administrative closure days” — should be considered illegal. This is one way we can try and bring the administration back to the bargaining table; we want good contracts and it has become increasingly clear that to sustain a strong voice for employee rights and ensure a fair workplace with quality employees we are going to have to stand together and fight for it.

Unions take legal action against SIU over bargaining [The Southern]