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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
Thank you to all who attended our first Town Hall! This month the NTFC is happy to host Town Halls as a series of forums to share information and experiences teaching at UIUC during the pandemic.
Our second Town Hall is centered around the AFT-AAUP A New Deal for Higher Education campaign. An IFT representative and NTFC representatives will be on hand to share information, answer questions, and hear your thoughts. This is an open forum for faculty of all levels to discuss this national effort to make public colleges and universities more accessible to all students.
When: Tuesday, March 9, 12-1pm CST
Where: A New Deal For Higher Ed