[[I think this should be an archive page of posts.]]
Bargaining Update: November 18. 2015
Thursday marked 411 days without a contract and our 21st bargaining session. Progress continued from last session–we signed tentative agreements on the Health and Safety and Union Activity/Union Membership articles. These are important parts of our contract because they protect your right to participate in your union and strengthen the health and safety provisions that the University has to comply with under State and Federal laws.
We also discussed the articles about discipline and dismissal, and access to personnel files. Our discussion of the latter continues to be held up by the administration’s insistence that we could either dispute the (wrongful) inclusion of something in a personnel file through the grievance procedure or by pursuing legal remedies granted to us by state law. They want us to give up one of these avenues in favor of the other. They want us to bargain away our rights. We should not have “two bites at the apple,” as their lead negotiator called it.
On the Discipline and Dismissal proposal, we are waiting on some clarification from Administration about language we found problematic for establishing the right to just cause and arbitration.
At this session, we also demanded to bargain the impact of healthcare changes proposed at the state level that were brought to light by the clerical/staff worker’s union negotiations (AFSCME Local 3700) here on campus. We will contact you soon with more information and a survey for all bargaining unit members to inform the bargaining team how to proceed on this issue at the table.
Though we made continued progress in today’s session, we must keep up the pressure on the Administration to ensure this pace. Mark your calendars now for Thursday, December 10 (Reading Day), when we will hold our Work-In at the Illini Union Courtyard Cafe.
Want to see negotiations first hand? Our next session is on December 2nd 8:30am-11:30am. Contact our lead negotiator, Kay Emmert, if you will be attending at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bargaining Summary, November 3, 2015.
Today was our twentieth bargaining session and, despite delays and a lengthy caucus, we also had some successes. We signed a tentative agreement on our grievance article and we received the first “wage proposal” from the admin. team. The grievance article is a cornerstone of any union contract and we are happy to see this chapter concluded for now.
The admin. wage proposal is a first step in what we expect will be a longer process of discussing “economic proposals” in the next weeks and months.
We think these steps would not have been possible without the successful teach-in and rally on the Quad last week. Thanks to so many of you who participated. There really is nothing like showing up and raising one’s voice — bargaining is strengthened in so many ways by your activism.
Bargaining Summary, October 22, 2015.
Bargaining began at 8 am and, as planned, covered the articles on Grievance, Governance, “Health and Safety,” “Physical Conditions”(admin. proposal) and Physical Environment (union proposal covering similar items).
The latter proposals were discussed for the second time. Admin. maintained that governance could actually not be covered in a union contract since the University Statutes alone governed practices and a union contract could not override the Statutes. Kay countered that the Statues provided little guidance and no specifics. She informed the admin. team that the University Senate is currently working on language that would define the status of NTT faculty within the Statutes. The admin team seemed uninformed about the nature of the Statutes or the initiative of the Senate to remedy the situation, but it refused to further consider our faculty governance article.
Health and Safety were then discussed at some length. Our team questioned the general nature of the admin’s proposal and its vague commitments, while it seeks to obligate all BU members to report any violation of health and safety laws. We learned that the Illinois Occupational Safety and Health Act applies to the University and that the University is committed to following the provisions of this Act in our workplaces.
Our “Physical Environment” proposal which asks the University to provide us with appropriate equipment to do our work (access to computers, phones, office space, mailboxes, IT equipment for teaching, lab equipment as appropriate, access to the library ) was rejected for cost reasons.
“Are you sure tenured professors have these things”? we were asked. We do not know, but we do know that we need these items to do our jobs! Since we rejected the admin’s vague and non-committal language on these articles, the admin team withdrew both the Health and Safety and the Physical Conditions articles it had proposed.
The last part of the session was taken up with a renewed discussion of the Grievance article. We objected to the admin’s insistence that in order to reach a binding resolution to a grievance we had to have an HR representative at each meeting between employee and employer. This was a new demand on the admin’s side and we were unwilling to accept this example of regressive bargaining. After some firm words from our negotiator the admin. agreed to withdraw this sentence. We expect an agreement on the Grievance article in the near future.
The session ended at 10:43.
Bargaining Summary, October 18, 2015
Our Eighteenth bargaining session on October 18 began with a brief side conference on inaccuracies in the administration’s list of bargaining unit members released to us on September 20.
We then proceeded to begin our bargaining session with a detailed discussion of the grievance article. Questions that were discussed centered on whom to file an initial grievance with — many of us have multiple supervisors and it is not always clear who would be the proper person to with whom to take this step. We want to make sure that our members are not disadvantaged by filing with the “wrong” person inadvertently, or because their complaint is judged to be not “in good faith” by the administration. We also had concerns over the term “academic judgement” which admin. used in its grievance proposal.
We then received the admin’s second counter proposal to our proposals on discipline and discharge as well as to the no-strike/no lockout provision. These are very straightforward and standard clauses in most contracts and our proposals on these items are relatively brief. Administration wants the union to take on a large disciplinary role towards its own members, something we reject.
After an admin. caucus of eighty minutes we reconvened and our chief negotiators TAd a brief clause on “electronic availability of agreement”.
We then continued the discussion about grievance and clarified additional points . After a second caucus of about twenty minutes, the admin. team was unable to present us with a cogent proposal that reflected our understanding of the discussion.
Altogether we spent about an hour at the table, and one hour and twenty minutes in caucus. About twenty-five minutes were spent in side-bar conference.
Our next bargaining Session is on October 22 at 8 am.
Bargaining Summary, September 21, 2015
Our negotiating team met once again with the administration negotiators Monday, September 21 for the scheduled three hour session. The topics on the agenda were the Preamble and Purpose clauses, Union Rights, and the Fair Share articles we had proposed. We began by discussing the “Discipline and Discharge” and the “No Strike, No Lockout” provisions we had both submitted previously. The administration proposals were lengthy and quite restrictive. We will continue discussion of these proposals in future sessions.
We then moved on to the other topics. It took nearly half an hour to figure out that the admin. team was not only completely opposed to any “Fair Share Clause” in our contract, but that they found this article, a core part of labor contracts in our state, “troubling.” Our preamble to the contract (in which we state our common purpose as a community dedicated to the common goals of higher education) was also rejected out of hand. “We are not willing to agree to a lot of that” was the curt dismissal from the other side.
After a caucus of nearly two hours, the administration team submitted a counterproposal on union rights. While much of this counterproposal contains language that we will be able to agree on, we were struck by the admin.’s insistence that our union had no place at the annual orientation for new faculty. “That’s our event, and we will run it as appropriate.” We also re-submitted a set of counterproposals on strike and lockout/discipline and discharge as a combination package. We spent some time clarifying the appropriate way to discuss background checks as part of our negotiations and then agreed on further bargaining dates. Our next bargaining session will take place on October 7.
All in all we spent only about sixty minutes of our three hour session talking to each other, as the admin. team continues to use the bargaining time mostly to caucus rather than to bargain. We will continue to push for the settlement of all our outstanding issues. We are also hoping for the university to present its economic proposals soon, something we have been waiting for during the past nine months.
Bargaining Summary, 17th session, September 2, 2015 10am-1pm
The Local # 6546 negotiating team met for its 17th session with the administration. Kay Emmert led our team, as always. On the agenda were two main items: Access to Personnel Files and Grievance. Both articles had been discussed in previous sessions. Our team submitted a carefully revised version of our original proposals as a result of these previous discussions. At the beginning of the session Kay explained the changes we had made to the grievance proposal and the reasons for these changes. After 28 minutes the admin. team requested a caucus.
Two hours and 15 minutes later, the admin. team returned and presented their grievance counter proposal which contained almost none of the suggestions we had made. In fact it had only a few very minor changes from the admin. original, first presented last winter. The admin. team then reassured us, that in their opinion, we were “very close” to reaching an agreement. Since the admin. proposal did not incorporate most of our proposal, our team leader had to re-visit important issues regarding the notification and timelines for filing a grievance which have yet to be addressed by admin.
The remaining few minutes were then used by the admin. team to question our counter proposal on access to personnel files. Admin. team members asked about the meaning of such terms as “faculty” or “academic employment.” As the clock had already run over time, we agreed to have further discussions at the next meeting on Sept. 21. The admin. team expressed the hope that future bargaining sessions could be structured more efficiently. No concrete proposals were offered on how to accomplish this, however.
Because of “caucus time” requested by admin., less than an hour of this three and a half hour session were spent “at the table,” not untypical in our experience over the past year. This represents a colossal waste of our time. We are appalled at this waste. We come prepared and ready to bargain, admin. seems to think they can wing it and get by with minimal engagement. Let’s not have them get away with it! The committee which prepares for bargaining (Bargaining Research Committee) meets on Mondays, 5-6:30. Come and join us!
What’s up at the Bargaining Table?
Our bargaining team had a total of six bargaining sessions over the summer. While some progress was made on the more technical issues (such as access to personnel files) we were unable to reach any tentative agreements and we have received no economic proposals at all from the administration.
In our last session on August 11, the Administration also refused to engage in any substantive discussion about Evaluations. We know that the way to provide the best educational experience for our students, is to have reliable, consistent evaluation procedures. Evaluations also help our members chart a path for professional development and promotion. But this demand seemed entirely too much for the Administration. They feared that if our contract mandated regular evaluations of faculty, it would be entirely too complicated and they would be set up for contract violations. The burden of evaluating non-tenure track faculty appears too great for them to bear.
Instead of engaging in substantive discussion about evaluations, the post-Wise Administration is anxious about our e-mails. When discussing the right of NTFC to use the UIUC email system for union communications, the Administration’s team expressed concern about the potential for “defamatory” (uncivil) remarks which might be conveyed about them by union officials via e-mail. To us this concern projects their own shame. There is no evidence that non-tenure track faculty are embroiled in scandal or are part of the legal battles over first amendment infringement and union-busting at our university. Recent events have made it clear the Administration will take care of its own defamation. As faculty and union members, we have no interest in hiding our own communication while policing the content, or the tone of email communications or others.
As we continue to work toward our contract, we remain firm in our stance that non-tenure track faculty deserve transparency, true faculty voice, and ability to shape our institution and our work within it.
Bargaining update: July 29, 2015
It is nearing the end of summer, as you may well know. Our team has been working hard to secure important rights and precedent for our unit. This week’s bargaining session began with our bargaining team’s detailed counter proposal on Grievance. Our team also began discussion on Appointment-Reappointment procedure and Union Rights in the campus community. Additionally, our team received an amended proposal on Personnel File Access and a counter-proposal on Non-Discrimination from the administration.
Our bargaining team put in a great deal of effort on the grievance counter proposal as many of the members of our unit are not represented in any systematic way under current university policy. It seems clear from the administration bargaining team’s proposal that they are not aware of, nor are they particularly concerned about these gaps in the governance and operations of the university. In the university administration’s amended proposal on Access to Personnel Files, the administration’s team moved toward our team’s concerns; however, their proposal omitted our call for giving a unit member the ability to grieve material that is unsuitable for inclusion in a personnel file.
Additionally, the administration’s team moved toward our proposal on non-discrimination but continues to exclude language protecting members despite immigration status or parental status. Perhaps most disturbing was a discussion on the Union Rights proposal we presented. We propose that the union should have the right nature of the union’s ability to contact unit members via university email. An administration bargaining team member asked whether the union would send “defamatory emails” about administrators using the email under such an arrangement. They seemed Their side of the following discussion seemed to suggest that if our campus union uses campus email addresses then the administration has the right to police the content of those messages. We find this unThis is not acceptable in an intellectual community (nor any for that matter, and it only does a disservice to the diverse constituencies multiplicity of our community which is where our strength lies). We will continue to push for the union’s and its members’ right to be an integrated, non-stigmatized part of the university community.
While we have made progress on some of these proposals we have yet to reach tentative agreements on them. Our next bargaining session is scheduled for August 11, at 1:30. The bargaining team will continue to negotiate on all currently open proposals. I with primary emphasis on the topics of ( I forgot which two). If you would like to attend the next bargaining session and lend your insight as well as your support, please contact our lead negotiator, Kay Emmert (email@example.com) or communications chair Dorothee Schneider (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Bargaining Summary: June 24, 2015
This week’s bargaining session began with a detailed discussion of both sides’ proposals on “Personnel Files”. This portion of the contract will govern the material that can be placed in each of our personnel files, relationship of these materials with evaluation procedures and how our work at the University is documented.
We want to ensure that all NTTs have access to their personnel files, that materials placed in these files are related only to a faculty member’s work at the University, and that the content placed in and the administration of personnel files conform with the Illinois Personnel Records Review Act (820 ILCS 40). The administration team showed some flexibility when we asked for more precise and detailed language, but we were not able to reach an agreement in this first discussion of the topic.
We also discussed our proposal on “Evaluations.” Previously, the administration team asserted that they did not consider this a suitable topic for a collective bargaining agreement—they reiterated this again this week. They consider Provost Communications (specifically #25 and #26) sufficient and comprehensive on the issue of evaluations.
Our team pushed for consistent and well-publicized procedures, directed by Departments and with input from NTTs, in order to put in place evaluations that actually matter for our members and their professional development and advancement. Provost Communications #25 and #26 are recommendation documents that only deal cursorily with Instructors and Lecturers, who comprise a large part of our membership. Further, many Departments have no evaluation procedures in place and have made no moves to create them. We collected information from members on this topic, some of which we shared in anonymized form with the administration team.
We agreed to re-visit this topic at a future bargaining session. The next bargaining session is planned for July 15 at 1:30pm. The topics will be a second discussion of the brief preamble we have proposed for the “Purpose” article, as well as the grievance proposal. Please get in touch with our lead negotiator Kay Emmert (email@example.com) or with communications chair Dorothee Schneider (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to participate.
June 10th, 2015 Bargaining Session Summary
The summer has begun in earnest, but your bargaining team stayed right on track, working on our collective bargaining agreement with the representatives of the University administration. Bargaining resumed on June 10, two weeks after the IL Supreme Court upheld our union’s recognition. “You are now the exclusive representative of these people…” lead negotiator Leslie Arvan acknowledged at the beginning of the meeting. The Administration’s team offered a purpose clause that incorporated some of our proposal on this topic. We signed a tentative agreement on the savings clause, which maintains the validity of a union contract even if parts of it are later invalidated by the law.
While collaboration was possible on this relatively straightforward clause, much tougher topics lay ahead, as much of the rest of the meeting showed. Time was taken up by discussing the union’s proposal on synchronizing work obligations with the academic calendar of the University. We reached no agreement on this topic but Arvan stated optimistically that “we were close” to settling contract language on personnel records, physical environment and union rights. No evidence was offered to support this assessment.
In the upcoming sessions, on June 21 and in July we’ll continue to tackle the non-discrimination clause and the “purpose” of our collective bargaining agreement, as well as begin the need for evaluation procedures.
If you would like to get involved in our bargaining team or if you would like more information about our proposals, let us know! Contact Kay Emmert, (email@example.com).