In Spring of 2022, NTFC members will vote on whether to raise membership dues from 1.35% to 1.5% (limited to the first $100,000 a member makes, as always), and we need to vote yes.
Here’s an overview of what this will look like:
|Salary||Monthly Dues Increase|
As you can see, even at the highest end, the increase is small. But even with this small increase, it’s important all our members understand why this vote is happening. The two most pressing questions, I am sure, are these:
- Why do we need to increase dues?
- And why increase them now?
The answers are:
- The US Supreme Court
- We held off as long as we could, but we have reached a critical point.
Let me explain.
When NTFC was first formed and the dues percentages were determined, there was a law in place called “Fair Share.” Essentially, this meant that if you were represented by a public sector union like NTFC, you had to give them some money in order to offset the cost of representing you, regardless of whether you signed a membership card for them. In 2018, however, Bruce Rauner (you may remember him) funded a court case challenging this law. The case made it all the way to the US Supreme Court, which sided 5-4 with Rauner-backed Mark Janus.
This case, now often referred to as “Janus” among union folk, has completely altered the funding structure of public sector unions, including NTFC. So, when we calculated dues, everyone was paying their fair share. Now, we have people who benefit from the union, but pay nothing for these benefits.
In other words, the law changed, so now we have to change.
And now to the second question–why now? I mean, if this happened in 2018, why are we asking to raise dues 4 years later?
As soon as the case was decided, NTFC leadership knew raising dues would be an eventuality, but we were also about to bargain a new contract. So when we went into bargaining in 2019, we worked hard to make certain we gained guaranteed yearly raises that would more than cover any dues increase to our members. And we won. Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, every member of our bargaining unit has received, and will continue to receive, a 1%-2% raise every year since 2019, even when the University doesn’t provide its own faculty merit raises.
So, with any increase in dues more than covered by salary raises, we were poised for this vote in Spring of 2020– but, well, I think we all know how the best laid plans went in Spring of 2020. And NTFC did not want to add to the uncertainty and stress by holding this vote.
Which brings us to now. Next semester we vote. And we need to vote yes. You can look to our upcoming Treasurer’s Report to understand the nitty gritty of what will happen if we don’t. But I want to leave you with this:
For a small monthly increase, you keep a union that has fought for you, and we get to keep fighting for even more.
Without this raise, we’ll all be on our own. And, as our guaranteed raises and so many other protections and provisions prove, we are stronger together.
Vice-President, NTFC Local #6546
From Jordan Sellers – Instructor, English.
As an educator and a parent, I get it. You have no free time. Neither do I. So why am I pausing to write this amid lesson planning for tomorrow, returning student emails, and the myriad of other duties that need my attention? Because I care about you and about the state of higher education.
Because I care, I serve as NTFC’s Bargaining Research Chair. Last week, while out visiting new faculty members on campus, a colleague in a different department asked, “Hey aren’t you all paid for your time?” The thought seemed to be that, at the very least, the person who negotiated the contract was paid, right?
It may be comforting to think that the people doing this work are being paid for it, but no. I’m a volunteer for a union of teachers that we all build in our “spare time.”
For free. 100% volunteer.
While grading papers and fielding emails. While conferencing with students and serving on department committees. While building and prepping classes. While pursing professional development.
During all of it, we, the volunteers that staff NTFC, work to make UIUC a better place. This summer, while visions of pools and patios beckoned, we negotiated a contract that guarantees more protections and benefits to our members than ever before.
Our Lead Negotiator wasn’t paid for this work. Our Bargaining Team wasn’t paid for this work. I wasn’t paid for this work. In fact, all of the members taking their time to serve NTFC are doing so entirely pro bono. We volunteer to make UIUC a sustainable workplace for specialized faculty—to insure you can be there when your students need you.
I tell you that to tell you this: We can’t continue to make UIUC better without member contributions—even if that contribution is only financial. Think of it like the PBS pledge drive, if you like: “without members like you.”
To help, you don’t have to serve on a committee or knock on doors (though we would love you to join us). You don’t have to come to meetings or social events (but there’s usually good food). You don’t have to come from a union background and know how to organize and advocate already (I didn’t).
If you want to help make UIUC a thriving, sustainable work place for all Specialized Faculty, all you need to do is sign the card and pay the dues. With member support, the work can continue.
Your Colleague & Volunteer NTFC Bargaining Research Chair,
From Dorothee Schneider, Teaching Associate Professor– History, Retired
After teaching American history for more than three decades, a lot of what I teach in the classroom refers to events I actually experienced: Watergate, Ronald Reagan’s “It’s Morning in America,” and Bill Clinton’s “I Feel Your Pain.” I watched the towers of the World Trade Center fall with my students while teaching about immigration. But, like students at that moment, I felt that I was a witness, an onlooker of events over which I had no control. I could live through history, I could understand history, but it never occurred to me that I could make history.
In the early months of 2014, a small group of colleagues and I began to work with union organizers from the American Federation of Teachers to find out if our campus was ready for a union of lecturers, instructors, and other faculty not on the tenure track. Our salaries were nearly frozen or even cut. Employment security did not exist. Most of us had no opportunity for advancement. As it turned out, hundreds of colleagues were ready to sign up for the cause. But we also encountered much anxiety: What if the supervisor found out? Could you be fired? Deported? What if the promised pay increase did not materialize? It was hard work to move our colleagues beyond fear and insecurity.
On May 15, 2014 we filed for union recognition with the Illinois State Labor Education Board. After a year-long lawsuit by the University administration contesting the legitimacy of our union (the case went all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court), we won recognition. Nearly two years and two strikes later, we ratified our first contract in May of 2016. The rest is, well, history.
This time I wasn’t a witness. I actually helped to make it happen.
My colleagues and I made this history ourselves.
Our historic win did not eliminate all the work-related problems among our ranks, but we made a serious dent and continue to push for a better future for ourselves in contract negotiations and organizing.
If we don’t just want to be bystanders, we have to continue making history. It is hard work. But so very much worth it.
Recently NTFC was alerted by a bargaining unit member that HR “lost” multiple elements of their personnel file. Due to the uncertain scope of this lapse, we’re advising all members to review their personnel files by immediately requesting them from HR.
Those requests should be sent to the Associate Director of HR, Jessica Mette: email@example.com.
The ability to check your file is your legal right under the NTFC contract’s Article XIV and the Illinois Public Record Review Act (IPRRA). We advise all members to periodically review your personnel file’s contents as you would your credit report. A good time to check is when there has been or if there’s about to be a change in your department administration (e.g. Executive Officer retirement or transfer).Article IV provides members rights that go above and beyond IPPRA, too. Did you know…
- The personnel file shall contain materials pertinent to the academic and employment related activities of the bargaining unit member,
- Your signature on disciplinary or evaluative material confirms only discussion or receipt of those types of documents, but indicates neither agreement nor disagreement.
- UIUC and your EO shall not gather or keep records of non-academic or non-employment related activities or information
So when you review your personnel file please carefully confirm that:
- All previous performance evaluations are present
- NO records of non-academic or non-UIUC employment related activities are present (e.g. nothing outside your UIUC employment)
If you have questions or encounter any issues when conducting this review please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.