The FA's basic argument, as I see it, is that the administration is refusing to work toward reaching an agreement on a number of issues the FA deems essential. Even the FA doens't expect the administration to agree with most of the FA's proposals on such issues: but it can and should expect and even demand that the administration reach some agreement on crucial points.
To some extent, to be sure, this sort of disagreement is to be expected: the administration will almost always want fewer matters addressed in a contract, the FA more. And there will be some issues where reasonable people could disagree about whether the "flexibility" lost by contractualizing something outweighs the gain in transparency and equity. But among the FA's issues are some pretty essential matters, including workload, tenure, and the administration's claim to the power to unilaterally cut salaries (via furloughs). A contract that fails to address these issues isn't a contract at all, so if the administration continues to refuse to engage in substantive bargaining about them (other than by saying that it retains the sole power to declare furloughs, to layoff faculty, etc.), the FA can't agree to it.
That's why there is a "strike watch", a neat phrase which may in fact be putting things a bit too conservatively. Unless the administration backs down from some of its major impositions in the "last, best, and final" terms imposed on us last spring, there will be a strike. The unions are making plans for a strike. I've seen a calendar with "first strike date"on it. A vote would have to authorize a strike, but I don't think there's any doubt that union members would back a strike if the administration fails to compromise--and only members can vote. If the administration thinks this is a bluff, they need to reconsider.
Strike Watch #1
SIUC Faculty Association Edition
July 27, 2011
A "strike watch" means conditions exist which could lead to a strike by the Faculty Association and our sister unions, the Association of Civil Service Employees, the Non-Tenure Track Faculty Association, and Graduate Assistants United. The administration can solve this crisis today with a fair settlement of our contracts. Make your voice heard by joining the FA!
Our Bargaining Objectives
Bargaining on the successor agreement to the 2007-2010 Collective Bargaining Agreement has slowed to a snail's pace (see the Bargaining Update below) and it is now 392 days that faculty and other unionized employees at SIUC have worked without a new agreement. There has been no progress towards resolution on a number of critical issues. At best, the Administration gives these issues superficial consideration, and in many cases they have not given any kind of response to the options presented by the FA team.
On April 28, the Faculty Association filed a Notice of Intent to Strike. Absent a negotiated agreement, a strike is the ultimate option to counter the Administration's unilateral imposition of terms of employment and failure to negotiate in good faith. The Notice of Intent to Strike cleared the remaining legal hurdle to exercising the option of a strike.
This crisis can be averted through the negotiation of a fair settlement that addresses the following objectives:
- Stopping the erosion of tenure and the potential for indiscriminate layoffs by insisting that layoffs be conditioned on a joint determination of a bona fide financial exigency.
- Opposing a repeat of unilateral salary reductions by means of furloughs or unpaid leave days.
- Workload and overload language that addresses contact hours, indirect teaching responsibilities, and new program delivery methods.
- Proper support for Faculty who are in academic units creating and implementing distance learning programs.
- A multi-year salary plan that attracts and retains excellent Faculty.
- Faculty hiring levels that reflect the priority of the academic mission at SIUC.
- Strengthening faculty governance and shared governance in program changes and departmental decision-making.
- FA partnership with the administration expressed in the form of a reasonable fair share agreement (all faculty share the cost of union representation) that recognizes Faculty solidarity and power.
- A ratified Agreement effective July 1, 2010.
Since the filing of the Notice of Intent to Strike in April, the Board (administration) bargaining team has met with the FA team five times. All discussions have concerned the successor agreement to the 2007-2010 Collective Bargaining Agreement. In May, several Tentative Agreements were signed (Sections 4.01-4.04, 5.01, 15.04-15.06, 15.08-15.09, 16.04, 16.05, and 16.07 and Addenda A and C). These agreements leave the language of these sections unchanged from the 2007-2010 Agreement, except for Section 5.01 which now will specify that the Library Affairs Operating Paper is a college operating paper.
The teams agreed that after these tentative agreements were signed, the teams should turn their discussions to non-financial issues while the state's budget was being decided. These issues were identified as workload (including distance learning and overload), program changes, association rights, operating papers, sexual harassment procedures, leaves of absence, and policies and procedures concerning outside employment and conflict of interest.
Subsequently, the chief subject of discussions during three sessions in July was distance education, including assignment, rights and responsibilities, support, dispute resolution, compensation, and overload. Although we share a lot of common ground, the Board team has been unwilling to commit points of agreement to written contract language.
The teams also discussed issues surrounding sexual harassment cases. Despite our best efforts to explain our interest in contract language which will address due process and procedures to follow in sexual harassment cases, the Board team refused to consider our supposal. This supposal dates back to midterm bargaining over sexual harassment policy and procedures and has been in the Board's hands for over two years without a response.
No other bargaining sessions are scheduled for July and negotiations are not expected to resume until after the beginning of the fall semester.