Why Are The Unions Preparing For A Strike?

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?

  1. What would a strike accomplish?
  2. A strike may be the only way to force the administration to do what it should have done without a strike: negotiate fair contracts with all unionized employees. Fair contracts will provide a stable foundation for SIUC to build on in the years to come.

    We don’t want to go on strike, but we will if we have to.  We will do so if we are left with no other principled alternative.  We will do so if a strike is the only way to secure our collective bargaining rights, defend our members’ reasonable expectations for job security, and protect academic values at SIUC. We would vastly prefer to secure these goals without a strike, but we will strike if a strike is the only means available to secure these goals.

  3. Why haven’t negotiations succeeded without a strike?
  4. On April 27, 2011, each union filed a “Notice of Intent to Strike” in response to a year in which we faced imposed terms and conditions of employment and a refusal to meet most of our legitimate proposals with anything other than a blanket rejection.  At the start of the semester (8/22/11), we had worked 418 days since our Collective Bargaining Agreements expired on June 30, 2010.

    The issues facing the different locals vary, but all our bargaining teams report that their administrative counterparts have been unwilling to meet them half way on the most important issues. Thus despite our ongoing attempts to reach a new agreement during numerous bargaining sessions during the summer and fall, it does not appear that these efforts or the “Notice of Intent to Strike” filings will produce a new agreement any time soon. A strike may be the only way to induce the administration to engage in genuine negotiations.

  5. Wouldn’t a strike hurt the local community?
  6. A strike would have a short term economic effect on the entire community, since members will have less money to spend in the community during a strike.  Of course the economic hardship will be most severe for the union members on strike, especially our lowest paid members.

    But it is current administrative policy that is the real threat to the local economy, because the hiring freeze on campus has led to far fewer jobs at SIUC.  If we do not take action now these job losses will continue. Job security is a major issue in all negotiations and would be a focus of any strike action.  We need a plan to restore good paying jobs of faculty, staff and graduate assistants. If we don’t fight for these jobs, the community will continue to suffer. A strike may be the only way to assure quality education for our students, quality jobs for SIUC employees, and a strong SIUC for decades to come.

  7. With all this conflict, how can you expect to work in partnership with the university?
  8. Our goal is to be a partner in helping SIUC flourish as a university we can all be proud of. The events of the past year, however, have shown that our administration has no interest in partnership and prefers heavy-handed top-down management. Genuine bargaining requires a 50-50 relationship. Mutual agreements, in the form of Collective Bargaining Agreements, can help restore the trust needed for us to make progress as partners.  A strike isn’t the preferred method to accomplish this goal, but it may prove to be the only available means to restoring our partnership role on this campus.

  9. Isn’t a strike the last thing SIUC needs?
  10. The last thing we need is a university administration that refuses to treat its employees with the respect they deserve, is unwilling to negotiate with the unions that represent them, and imposes its own unilateral terms.  This strategy destroys morale, mutual respect, and trust, and hobbles this university at a time when it needs the best efforts of all its employees.

  11. Aren’t there alternatives we can take before going on strike? 
  12. In the past weeks we have engaged in informational picketing, hand-billing/leafleting, and other actions to demonstrate our solidarity and collective purpose.  Further activities of this sort, which are designed to get our message out without conflicting with work duties or disrupting University operations, will continue. Strong attendance at these events will show that we are serious about getting a contract, and can lead to a settlement without a strike if the Board team is willing to negotiate. But such events have not been enough, so far, to generate much progress at the bargaining table.

  13. Is one of the alternative actions a “Work-to-Rule” or “slowdown” campaign?
  14. A Work-to-Rule or slowdown is a tactic in which employees only do the absolute minimal work required by their jobs. This is a difficult tactic for a union at a public research university, since many work rules and norms vary from unit to unit and even individual to individual, making it difficult to advise individuals as to the “line” that should not be crossed in a Work-to-Rule situation. In addition, Work-to-Rule or slowdown could be construed as a partial strike and might be illegal under Illinois law.

  15. Is a strike legal?
  16. Yes, under the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, at this time a strike is legal because we have complied with Labor Act standards (115 ILCS 5/13):

    a)      We are represented by a labor organization as exclusive bargaining representative (Association of Civil Service Employees (ACsE), SIUC Faculty Association (SIUC FA), SIUC Non Tenured Track Faculty Association (SIUC NTT FA) and Graduate Assistants United (GAU)].

    b)      Our Collective Bargaining Agreements expired on June 30, 2010 and no new mutual agreements are in place.

    c)       Mediation for each local has been invoked and used without success.

    d)      On April 27, 2011, each local filed Notices of Intent to Strike.

    e)      The administration has not agreed to submit our bargaining issues to a third party neutral who will render a final and binding decision.

  17. The administration says we are trying to force non-members to pay dues.  Is that true?
  18. Our local associations supported by the IEA and NEA have a legal obligation to fully represent all employees in their bargaining units, both members and non-members alike.  This obligation is to be honored without discrimination as to the individual’s status as a dues paying member. This duty of fair representation is a legal obligation that leaders and IEA staff take very seriously.  Because of the organization’s legal obligation, the Illinois Labor Act authorizes bargaining representatives to negotiate a “fair share” payment from non-members for services rendered [See 115 ILCS 5/11.] The provision would have to be bargained with the Board of Trustees as part of a collective bargaining agreement. That is all each local is seeking – a fair share payment from those who may, for their own reasons, choose not to join the union that bargains on their behalf but who receive the benefits and services of fair representation in collective bargaining and contract administration.  “Fair Share” is an important issue, but only one of the issues each local is trying to resolve at the bargaining table.

  19. Would I be going on strike for another local?
  20. No. While the four IEA sister locals are in a coalition to provide “mutual aid and protection” (a right under the Labor Act 115 ILCS 5/3), each local has its own set of bargaining goals and a separate independent structure for making decisions as to settlement or strike. Each local will have to decide for itself. While we face many similar issues, including salary, job security, and union rights, each local is working on separate proposals crafted to its own unique needs. If you vote to strike, it will be for your own issues and interests.

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