“A win for collective bargaining”

DAYS WITHOUT A CONTRACT: 462

Now that I actually have time to write, congratulations to the NTTs on their vote last night. For a group that is very vulnerable — the university tried to lay off just under 100 NTTs (including most of the union bargaining team) in December — that kind of vote is a real statement: we’re tired of this. We’re tired of an administration that seems to want to quash any sort of real voice employees might have — it seems to want to get rid of the unions (or at least create “shop unions,” that are firmly under the heel of the administration, regardless of what the employees might want). Apparently, they don’t even want us to talk to the students and answer their questions in a way that sounds fairly uncontroversial, according to the DE’s article about the meeting.

Anita Stoner, the president of the NTTs, told me this new vote was a “win for collective bargaining” in her text to let me know the results last night. She’s right — the success of our four votes is a win for people who are tired of being imposed on, vetoed, or just plain pushed around. We’re pushing back and the administration is starting to feel the pressure; that’s why they’ve upped their amount of emails and scary rhetoric. The best counter for that is to stand together.

We can get want we want: fair contracts. But remember the votes are only the first step!

We’re also gaining activists every day. People who are not union leadership, people who are allies, they’re on our side. We’re not alone in this. I’ll post announcements of upcoming events as I see them, whether they’re “union organized” or otherwise. Keep an eye on the “upcoming events” section!

Completely unrelated to the labor situation here, I have a bit of an update on the performance funding that is both reassuring and worrying at once. This comes from Larry Frank, who is part of the IEA’s research group and sitting on the committee:

The discussions thus far have been very general in nature and we’ve yet to see any proposal for a specific metric. The discussions have centered on keeping the formula simple (though a number of people have suggested a bunch of metrics so we’ll see how that shakes out) and recognizing that one size does not fit all (and this has been around the missions of different kinds of schools). I’d suggest you go to the IBHE website and check out the Performance Funding site. Under the link for “schedule of meetings” you’ll find all the material the committee has seen to date.

What I think you’ll find is that no clear vision exists with regard to what the metrics will be or, in fact, what the goal of a performance funding formula is. If you can make sense of what’s posted, let me know! I really don’t see where this is headed and there seems to be little agreement within the group as to what we want to accomplish.

So, we won’t end up with a Higher Ed version of No Child Left Behind… but since this is supposed to roll out in January, the lack of cohesion or vision is a little disturbing. The IBHE website can be found here.

Finally, I will actually be in Seattle next week, so we will have a surprise guest blogger!

Have you contacted the Board, the President, and the Chancellor yet?

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

In the News
NTTFA fourth union to authorize walkout [The Southern]
Four unions in contract negotiations authorize strike [Daily Egyptian]
Unions conduct info meeting for students [The Southern]

Upcoming Events:
SIUC Tuesday Work-ins (GAs + Allies)
Wednesday October 12, 4:30pm, Anthony Hall: PROTEST & PRESS CONFERENCE: Student Solidarity with Faculty, GAs & Staff

Advertisements

Real Value

DAYS WITHOUT A CONTRACT: 442

We’re slowly creeping up on 450 days without a contract. In private sector union, I’m pretty sure it never would have gone this far. Many of the recent public sector strikes I’ve been linking to and reading about started within a few months of a contract expiring — not more than a year later. Especially since many of those strikes are about similar things: job security, health care, the future of tenure. We have a real fight on our hands at SIUC to keep our unions and our voice in the university. If you want a real vote in the future of SIUC, join the union. If you want to have control over your workplace, join the union. If you are a different stakeholder — a student, or a parent, or a member of the community — get informed about the issues and make your own decisions. Form your own coalitions and interest groups. You should have a say in what’s going on; it’s your education!

And the latest trend in higher education news says there’s some things all of us stakeholders — employees, students, parents, the community — should be concerned about:

Higher Education Price Index Climbs to 2.3%, as Utility Costs Rise [Chronicle of Higher Education]
The Chronicle reports that the amount higher education institutions spend shot up this year, particularly because of utility, supply and material costs. More money going out means that institutions are cutting budgets and raising tuition…

As colleges slash budgets, who’s taking the hit? [Belleville News Democrat, from the AP]
The report I linked to yesterday showed that administration seems to be cutting administration but the question is — are the cuts enough?

Questions About Higher Education’s Value Go Viral on YouTube [Wired Chronicle]
Of course, all the funding problems higher education has had recently have resparked the debate about the value of higher education. And now it’s on Youtube. My personal opinion is that we’re all better off with an educated, informed populace. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have some reforms. Reforms are not necessarily bad things — they just need to be made with a real spirit of cooperation and a voice/vote from all stakeholders.

The Disruption Is Here [Inside Higher Ed]
I am personally open to reforms; unfortunately, I don’t really have suggestions on what those reforms should be. This essay gives a few, from the business perspective.

Speaking of reforms, after getting a few questions about performance funding, I emailed our IEA higher ed lobbyist. She said she’ll have an update after the next committee meeting at the end of September. I’ll pass on any information I get then!

Upcoming Events:
A Meeting of the Faculty Association Membership has been scheduled for Thursday, September 15, 2011 from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. in Lawson 171. The purpose of the Membership Meeting is to provide the latest information on bargaining, what is at stake in negotiations, the strike alternative, and strike readiness. Proposals that have been presented at the bargaining table and other information can be found now at the FA’s bargaining information site: http://siucfa.wordpress.com/bargaining-information/. More information about bargaining and strike actions will be sent over the next couple of days.

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!

FAQs Have Arrived

DAYS WITHOUT A CONTRACT: 441

Well, orange juice and lots of sleep seems to have fixed me right up (at least mostly)! So, we’ll be back to our regularly programmed blogging.

First of all, I’m pleased to announce a new link we have to a lot of information about why our unions are talking about a strike and what a strike might involve. Got questions about insurance? Want to know what picketing is like? This is the page to go to! Keep in mind, please, this is mostly a generalized FAQ, applicable to people represented by all four unions. If you have a question you want answered that are missing, or one you think might only apply to your union and not the others, leave a comment and let us know! I’ll try and get you an answer ASAP.

On other news, two interesting articles came out today:
New Approach to Cuts [Inside Higher Ed]
Apparently a new research report shows that the overall trend in the recession (through 2009) has been for colleges and universities has been to cut administration while increasing spending in instruction and student services.

Of course, that report also shows another side, which the Chronicle of Higher Education’s article highlights: the funding increases are coming from the highly increased student tuition and fees.

Speaking of funding, the Daily Egyptian has an article today about the changes performance funding are bringing, namely that each department/college is going to have to justify hiring. The underlying point that may be important here isn’t just the new policy of enrollment = hires but that the administration is further consolidating power and taking the faculty voice and vote out of the equation.

We do live in interesting times.

Upcoming Events:
A Meeting of the Faculty Association Membership has been scheduled for Thursday, September 15, 2011 from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. in Lawson 171. The purpose of the Membership Meeting is to provide the latest information on bargaining, what is at stake in negotiations, the strike alternative, and strike readiness. Proposals that have been presented at the bargaining table and other information can be found now at the FA’s bargaining information site: http://siucfa.wordpress.com/bargaining-information/. More information about bargaining and strike actions will be sent over the next couple of days.

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!

“A Sinking Ship”

DAYS WITHOUT A CONTRACT: 435

My department (which is in the College of Liberal Arts) had its first department meeting of the year yesterday morning. The news our chair reported out to us was both a little disturbing but not surprising. At least in CoLA, all faculty hiring will based solely on “enrollment,” due to the new performance funding law. What exactly encompasses “enrollment” hasn’t been set yet. Secondly, there’s a push to start consolidating some of the required courses at the graduate level, particularly for compatible research methods and statistics. Speaking as a graduate student, that could actually make it harder to get into those classes, especially since people outside CoLA also take, for example, statistics in Political Science because it’s required for their degree but not offered in their department. Even more, it could confuse the issue as each discipline handles statistics differently and has their own takes on what methods work best for certain research questions. Third, a new assessment committee — which used to be called the “rightsizing committee” — is going to start looking at efficiency within programs. Again, no specific metrics of what is considered “efficient” is public yet. But hearing “rightsizing” and “program assessment” (as a group separate already from the constant assessment efforts) has me hearing the underlying words “program cuts.” Finally, it sounds like the college is looking to also streamline civil service jobs, either by sharing people (one person working multiple jobs) or moving them out of their positions and into new ones and asking departments/faculty to step up to take over the duties (because there will be no filling of vacancies).

There was also a comment about how the CoLA dean wants to improve morale… which made the entire room laugh.

Moving onto news outside CoLA:

Online courses give students easy access [Daily Egyptian]
It looks like the trend is toward a push to offer online classes, or, as the euphemism goes, “distance education.” I know distance education is one of the issues still on the bargaining table for the Faculty Association but I don’t have the specifics. Maybe one of the FA members in the loop would like to educate us?

Enrollment figures examined [Daily Egyptian]
A follow-up with more information to yesterday’s article, including a note from Koropchak, dean of the graduate school, who blamed the 10 percent decrease in graduate enrollment on non-declared students. Apparently when they count “graduate enrollment,” the university only counts graduate students actually enrolled and admitted to programs. Though there’s no number given so I wonder if there really are that many non-declared graduate students and, when you include them, how “soft” the graduate enrollment still is.

Academic Freedom and Tenure: What Does the Constitution Protect? [Daily Egyptian]
An opinion piece published in the DE that breaks down the new language imposed by the administration around tenure.

Apparently, the news about the enrollment “increase” made the St. Louis papers and radio. One radio commentator called SIUC a “sinking ship.” So if we’re going down, do we get in the lifeboats and bail? Or do we try and plug the holes and come out stronger? Right now, the administration is attempting to plug the holes. But they’re doing it in the wrong way — by alienating the very people who actually have contact with the students: the faculty, the staff, and the graduate assistants. They’re alienating the students themselves with higher fees and tuition increases. And where is that money going to? A parking lot that students can’t use. A football stadium. A planned student services building. To administrative raises. Is that giving students a quality education? Not particularly.

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!