By Kay Emmert
This week for NTFC has been about strengthening ties with other locals and engaging in the needs of our community. Coming up, in addition to working with our community, we’ll continue our efforts to strengthen the relationships within our union and among members.
This Week in Reflection
As we go into Thanksgiving Break, we’re distributing donation bins to key locations on campus in order to collect school supplies for Wiley Elementary, MLK Elementary, and the Urbana Adult Education campus. Donations can be as simple as a pack of pens, a notebook, or a jump-drive. The school supply drive is scheduled to close December 15. Every little bit helps, so please contact us at email@example.com or 217-318-0042.
This past week, our Personnel Committee met and created evaluation procedures for our office manager position. Leslie Thomas, our PT Office Manager, is our first employee, so it was important we create an effective evaluation procedure that also stands by our own ideals as a labor union, and workers ourselves. Leslie has been doing wonderful work, taking the burden of daily office tasks off our hands so we can focus on the important work of building members and community ties.
NTFC will be getting additional support from our affiliates, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT), to improve organizing efforts on campus. Since our bargaining unit (or number of NTT’s legally covered by our collective bargaining agreement) has grown this semester to the largest in history, we need extra help to contact all the new hires, explain their rights, and elicit their feedback. New hires now make up a fifth of our entire bargaining unit, so need as many people as are willing to talk to new NTTs. We’re very excited to welcome back Anne Dietz-Lavoie, National Representative for AFT, who worked with us during our first negotiation and strike campaign. She’ll be working with us again and providing support to help grow our union as well as other locals in the area.
If you’d like to take your share of this responsibility and talk to some of your new colleagues, let us know by emailing us firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 217-318-0042. These conversations happen in pairs and with assistance, so all you have to worry about it having a good conversation. Whether you’ve been involved with NTFC events in the past, or this would be your first time, participating in organizing conversations can be a fun and enlightening experience and all members are welcome to volunteer!
On the State Level
Last weekend, NTFC was represented at the American Studies Association national conference in Chicago where union leaders from locals all over Illinois came together. We discussed the current challenges facing our locals and ideas for how we can work together to face these challenges united.
Yesterday, in support of a Graduate Employee Organization (GEO) event on campus, NTFC participated in a rally and march against what the GOP is calling their “Tax Cut and Jobs Act.” This tax plan would include making tuition waivers taxable income, making graduate programs unaffordable by any but the already independently wealthy. If universities chose to take on the extra cost, which isn’t likely, many departments would face shutting down their graduate programs due to a decrease in applicants and increase in cost. Some private colleges and universities would also be hit hard by other changes in the tax plan. It’s clear that this tax plan is a way to provide the largest tax breaks to corporations while reducing options for class mobility.
The tax plan passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 227-205, but still needs to pass in the Senate. There’s still time for lawmakers to make changes to the tax plan or to defeat it completely. To help, you can sign GEO’s petition to the University to exercise its power to defeat the tax plan. In addition, you can write or call senators directly on either side of the isle to ask them to vote against this tax plan. If all democrat senators vote against the tax plan, we would only need to convince 3 republicans to also vote the tax plan down in order for it to be defeated in the senate. This tax plan would hurt workers and universities alike, so let’s unite to protect the future of education together.
As we go into Thanksgiving Break, it’s a time for renewal and refocusing. Take this week to be with family, friends, or self. Let’s return with refreshed energies so we can face the challenges of labor and education together.
Kay Emmert, President
NTFC Local #6546