Strike FAQ

This page will contain a list of questions that union leadership is frequently asked about why we may need a strike and what might happen during a strike. This is your first stop when searching out information. If you have a question you want to see answered (and subsequently added to the list), leave a comment or contact us and we’ll do our best to help you.

A. Why are the unions preparing for a strike?

1. What would a strike accomplish?
2. Why haven’t negotiations succeeded without a strike?
3. Wouldn’t a strike hurt the local community?
4. With all this conflict, how can you expect to work in partnership with the university?
5. Isn’t a strike the last thing SIUC needs?
6. Aren’t there alternatives we can take before going on strike?
7. Is one of the alternative actions a “Work-to-Rule” or “slowdown” campaign?
8. Is a strike legal?
9. The administration says we are trying to force non-members to pay dues. Is that true?
10. Would I be going on strike for another local?

B. How would a strike work?

1. When would a strike happen?
2. Can a non-member vote?
3. How long might a strike last, and how would a strike end?
4. Can we be terminated, dismissed, non-renewed, or laid off if we strike?
5. Do I have to be a member to strike?
6. What does it mean to be “on strike”?
7. What do we do while we are on strike?
8. But what if I don’t want to do any of those activities?
9. Is attending a campus, non-work event such as a football game or a concert permissible?
10. How does picketing work?
11. What form of support can we expect from our parent organization, the IEA-NEA?
12. What if an administrator asks about my participation in strike or union activities?
13. What “dirty tricks” can I expect from the administration?
14. Can my insurance be affected by a strike?
15. If a strike happens, what about my access to university equipment?
16. What happens to my pay check and the issue of “dock” days including make-up days and insurance payments if we have a strike?
17. How does my immigration status affect my right to strike?

C. COBRA Specific Questions
1. What does COBRA cost?
2. Who implements and gives notice for COBRA?
3. Who reports the qualifying event (strike) and in what time frame?
4. How long do I have to select a COBRA plan in order to keep my current coverage in effect?
5. When must I pay the premium in order for the insurance coverage to stay in effect?
6. If I have a claim during the 105 day period will the claim be covered?
7. Is there any financial assistance to help me pay the COBRA premium costs?
8. Can I recover the cost of paying the COBRA premiums?

D. What are the timelines, procedures, and standards related to the IEA-NEA interest-free strike loan program?

A draft of this document was reviewed by IEA-NEA legal counsel.

13 thoughts on “Strike FAQ

  1. I’m a faculty member, and I have a same-sex spouse. My understanding is that COBRA & other similar Federal health insurance plans *do not* cover same-sex spouses (& any of their children who are not legally adopted by the employee). If we do strike, what would happen to their health insurance? In the event that the administration does use the most severe tactic (i.e. COBRA), what are the legal options for keeping same-sex spouses covered by insurance? Are there any options? Is there any other health insurance they would be eligible for, and if so, would the interest-free loans from the unions be eligible to use for that purpose? If they would be uncovered for the duration of the strike, how would CMS handle their “non-coverage” once we return to work?

    Please consider these questions, and I greatly appreciate any clarification you can give. I know I’m not the only one on campus with a same-sex spouse &/or children who could possibly lose their health insurance.

    Thank you.

    • That’s a very good question! I will pass this on and we will do our best to get that answered for you. Watch this space and I’ll reply when I have a more concrete answer.

    • We have some answers specifically about COBRA up on a new FAQ page (linked above) including some information on what happens to partners (same-sex or otherwise) and other designated beneficiaries. I hope this helps answer your questions! If not, let us know.

      • Thanks for your response. However, the FAQ page is still ambiguous as it applies to same-sex partners & their children. I looked up the current restrictions & currently COBRA *will not* cover same-sex partners or children who are not legal dependents of the employee. Please clarify this on the FAQ page for others looking for this info.

        This also means that my other questions are even more important now: What other options to I have to keep my wife ensured? If there is some alternative program, will I be able to use Union loans to enroll in it? If there are no other alternatives, how will CMS handle their non-coverage during the strike?

        Thank you for the time & effort you’ve put into looking into this, and I look forward to your response. Thank you.

  2. As a research-focused grad student (but currently employed as a TA), what happens to the research side of things? There are many things, especially when working with animals that cannot stop. It seems in one of your FAQ questions that some activities can continue, but the FAQ is somewhat vague on that. Any advice?

    • Hi CV! As far as your situation goes, what you’d be withholding is your labor — so that means your work as a TA. We all realize that, in terms of research, animals have to be taken care and time-sensitive experiments have to be completed. A strike could potentially disrupt all of those sorts of research. That’s part of why we’re vague on the answers because it has to be an individual decision on your part. Am I helping the administration by continuing this experiment? Is an animal going to die if I don’t report to work? What will happen to my research if I go on strike? Those (and more) are questions you have to answer on your own.

      I can tell you that, traditionally, it’s members of the administration that are responsible for taking over those duties in the event of a strike.

  3. From comment on Section B:
    “Steven Belletire on September 19, 2011 at 2:58 pm said:
    Some of us need a clear answer to this question that is not posed here. Can a non-union faculty member choose not to strike and stay on the payroll should a strike be called by the FA?”

    • absolutely; you have a choice. if a strike occurs, any person (whether union or not) has the CHOICE to report to work. legally, no one affiliated with the union can prevent employees from reporting to work.

    • Hi Cheri,

      It should have no effect on tuition benefits to children of employees. A striking employee is still an employee; a strike is not a termination from status.

  4. My domestic partner is an SIUC Graduate Student…and he is concerned about the strike…and he would like to know: will classes still continue during the strike? He is worried about classes being cancelled in his program if professors are on strike…can you tell me anything regarding this so I can hopefully put his mind at ease?

    • Hi Andrew!

      If the faculty choose to go on strike (and the tenured/tenure-track faculty are having their strike authorization vote tomorrow and the non-tenure track faculty will be counting their ballots on October 5), classes wouldn’t be completely cancelled! There might be a few sessions cancelled and later made up but the entire class wouldn’t be cancelled. Traditionally, education strikes are fairly short. If his graduate class meets once a week on Monday, for example, and the faculty go on strike on a Tuesday — there’s a chance he wouldn’t miss ANY class. The faculty are really committed to make sure this doesn’t adversely effect students. He shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

  5. I would like to know why people who do not pay union dues are not afforded a vote. It seems as if this is a ‘poll tax’ of sorts I know that the 14th amendment applies to federal government imposing poll taxes. However, it is of my opinion that the same people here that are allowing themselves to be taken advantage of by the union (paying the poll tax for a vote), are of the same political views that would cry ‘poll tax!’ in the event of any government form of prerequisite for voting. I do not agree with this kind of hypocrisy.

    If you want to be heard by the administration, why not let your constituents be heard as well? For many (and some’s sake I hope all), graduate school is just a stepping stone on the way to a successful career, a hundred dollars here and there isn’t going to make or break someone’s career (if it does, you might want to choose a different career).

    In my experience with unions they are generally hurtful to businesses as well as the union members. One example is that my grandfather was a union machinist for 40 years and lost 85% of his company pension after the company was sold; whereas if he were afforded his own way of planning for retirement, this would not have happened. In another example, my uncle is currently a union operator, when he is laid off (work slows in the winter) he goes to the bottom of the list at the union hall, when a job opens up, a less experienced, less talented operator is sent instead (even though my uncle is specifically requested). How is this beneficial to anyone? Paying the same amount for a less productive individual? A union operator that is laid off collects unemployment, what incentive is there for him or her to do a good job other than the satisfaction of doing a good job? Personally I could not live with myself knowing that I do not do a good job and try my hardest do so. It is also of my opinion that unions cater to the lazy and unmotivated.

    Finally, as a person with a college degree, chances are you will be a salaried person. What kind of resume will have a line reading “led/voted for the strike of the graduate assistant union”. If they cannot dock pay for hours they can’t prove aren’t worked… what is the complaining all about that you are over worked? If they cannot prove you didn’t work, then why work more than the 10-20 mandated hours?

    A person should be paid what they are worth, not what a group of greedy individuals feel that they are worth.

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