Monday, April 4, 2011

New FA statement on the rejection of the Chancellor's ultimatum

The Faculty Association has released a more detailed response to the Chancellor's "offer".  The FA stresses that it has not "demanded" or "insisted on" anything, despite the Chancellor's repeated statements to the contrary (her press release can be found here; I can't find a copy of her latest email online, but all at SIUC got a copy).  Rather, it has always been willing to consider alternatives to its proposals.  The Board team has, however, made very clear demands, which it now plans to impose.  The most striking are a "Reduction in Force" provision that would allow for layoffs whenever the administration decides they are necessary, and a furlough provision that would allow for pay cuts whenever the administration decides they are necessary.  Put bluntly, the layoff provision would do away with tenure and the furlough provision, which allows the employer to unilaterally cut pay, would do away with any justification for a union.  Little surprise that the 'offer' was rejected.  

For anyone who hasn't seen it, the full FA statement (which has yet to appear on the FA website) can be found after the break.  

Dear Colleagues,

When your SIUC Faculty Association bargaining team started negotiations with the SIU Board of Trustees team, it proposed to use interest based bargaining. The Board team accepted this idea on paper but not in practice. Interest based bargaining is a joint problem-solving approach, in which the teams explore options together in order to find contract language that addresses the interests of both sides. This is different from traditional positional bargaining, in which the two sides stake their positions which then become the focus of negotiations rather than underlying issues which need to be resolved.

In Chancellor Rita Cheng's message of March 31, she repeatedly says that the Faculty Association has "insisted on" or "demanded" the contract terms in its "final position." These statements are just untrue. The most charitable conclusion to be drawn from such statements is that the Chancellor is out of touch with what has been happening in bargaining. 

Consistent with the Faculty Association's commitment to interest based bargaining, our bargaining team has presented multiple options on the issues before us, and to the end of the mediation session on March 29, the team has expressed its willingness to consider alternatives to its proposals. The answer our team received through the mediator was that the Board team had no interest in addressing any of the Association options other than to reject them. The Board is the sole party to have made a final demand in its "Last, Best, and Final Offer." 

The Chancellor's message may have left the mistaken impression that the Association team had rejected the offer made by the Board team because the administration did not agree to our proposals. This is not the case. At the bargaining table your team was presented with a take-it-or- leave-it  proposal. Make no mistake about it, your team rejected the offer because of its unacceptable terms and its glaring omissions.

The unacceptable terms contained in the rejected contract offer include:
  • A provision on Reduction in Force (i.e., layoffs) that would eviscerate tenure on our campus;
  • A provision on furloughs that amounts to salary reductions at the whim of the Administration, without objective criteria or justification for their necessity.
The issues that the proposal did not address but remain of critical importance to our faculty include:
  • Workload equity, such as contract provisions to deal with credit for contact hours vs. credit hours or mechanisms to ensure a meaningful shared governance role for Faculty in amending department operating papers to include workload equivalencies;
  • Equitable overload policies and compensation;
  • Workload issues and an academic year appointment option for faculty in the Library;
  • Sexual harassment complaint and investigation procedures, guaranteeing the rights of both the complainant and the respondent, and establishing mechanisms for accountability and fairness in the application of policies on sexual harassment;
  • Distance learning language to address the rapid developments and progress in this area that have occurred since the last contract;
  • Transparent policies and procedures regarding conflict of interest and conflict of commitment, compliant with state and federal requirements, and consistent with the needs of faculty engaging in outside consulting and other activities;
  • Plans to address the cost of living, salary equity, and salary compression.
It was the content of the Board's offer that resulted in your bargaining team rejecting it. In its meeting of March 31, 2011, the Faculty Association Departmental Representative Council voted unanimously to support the Bargaining Team's decision to reject the Board's offer.

In the coming days, the Faculty Association  will present information which will present the options and proposals regarding these issues in greater detail. Meanwhile, several documents from bargaining, including the Board's final offer, can be accessed in the bargaining information section of the Faculty Association web site Also coming soon is more information about what the latest developments in bargaining mean for faculty, including the imposition of the terms of the Board offer, the next steps for faculty and the Faculty Association, and the ultimate negotiation of a fair contract settlement.

In solidarity,
Randy Hughes
SIUC FAculty Association, IEA-NEA

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