Our semi-annual General Membership Meeting will be on October 18th at the University YMCA. Come voice your concerns, prepare for bargaining, and get in the know. If you have not yet signed a membership card but would like to attend, you can sign at the door.
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.
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 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.
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.