Thursday, October 27, 2011

FSN Moves Forward with its Petition

Many of you probably received the oh-so-very-clear Faculty for Sensible Negotiation's email today outlining the process by which we shall move forward with decertifying the Faculty Association.  You can read it and comment on it by following this link, but I'll take a whack at making sense of it after the break.

[Text of email follows.  My annotations in blue. -- J.G.]

This e-mail outlines the steps we intend to follow under the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act to attain a vote of replacement or retention of the Faculty Association at SIUC and provides an overview of a proposed alternative to the Faculty Association for collective bargaining at SIUC.

I did overhear today confirmation that the FSN probably are consulting with IELRB.  The evidence?  The convoluted and arcane nature of the procedure they are proposing.  Very mystical!
This process will give all tenured/tenure-track (T/TT) faculty an opportunity to vote on how their interests are best represented in negotiations with the administration. Specifically, the FSN proposes that a vote be held to give T/TT faculty the following three choices:

a.  Continue with the representation by the Faculty Association
b.  Replace the Faculty Association with an alternative negotiating unit that is part of an enhanced Faculty Senate.  We have labeled this sub-committee the SIU Representative Faculty Committee.

I think this might be their preferred option, since it arrives in an extra large font for emphasis.  Conversely, given that the three members of the Faculty Senate I consulted with today had heard of no attempts, formal or otherwise, by the FSN to actually consult with the FS about this plan, maybe they had to provide a third option, when what they really want is...  
c.  No collective bargaining agent.

Let us heretofore recognize that the FSN is actually an umbrella term for a tense and temporary coalition between the FFSN (Faculty for Faculty Senate Negotiation) and the FNN (Faculty for No Negotiation).  Taken together with the FA, all three options should be pronounced "Fafenfusnussen," a German word meaning "Great Volkswagon!"

To petition for such a change, the process is as follows:

1.  A petition must be filed with the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board (IELRB). This petition consists of a letter naming the alternative representative group and signed “cards” (see below) from 30% of T/TT faculty members electing representation by this alternative group. Note that, despite the wording on this card, signing the card does not bind anyone to a specific vote. Rather, the cards in this context are necessary for the IELRB to hold a vote in step 2.

Because that is not confusing at all!!!  I think I am reading this right: the petition requires us to choose between the status quo (FA) and the heretofore imaginary RFC, and if we get confused just throw our arms in the air and accept nothing.

I authorize SIU Representative Faculty Committee to be my
exclusive collective bargaining representative for all purposes of
collective bargaining with my employer, Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Name (printed or typed)
Employment position
(Source: Added at 28 Ill. Reg. 7938, effective May 28, 2004)

Because this organization does not yet exist except in the imaginations of the FSN nor has it been imagined in consultation with its co-creator, please recognize that the following cards may also be used in the petition:

I authorize Magical Rainbow Unicorns to be my exclusive collective bargaining representative for all purposes of collective bargaining and gathering pixie dreams with my employer, Southern Illinois University Hogwarts.
Name (printed or incanted)
Wizard Ranking
Secret Name
Zodiacal Sign
(Source: Ministry Of Magic's Muggle Inventory, *!67$)

2.    After receiving the petition along with cards from at least 30% of the members of the bargaining unit, the IELRB facilitates a vote of T/TT members to determine their will. Again, this vote is a 3-way vote among the following choices:
a.  Continue with the representation by the Faculty Association
b.  Replace the Faculty Association with the SIU Representative Faculty Committee.
c.  No collective bargaining agent.
Should no option receive 50% of the vote, a runoff would be held between the two options receiving the most votes.

Because, of course, if the three are more or less evenly distributed that would mean the winning option would be preferred by fewer that 40% of the faculty, and we all know that's BAAAAADDDDD!  So let's figure out a convoluted mechanism to make sure one of these options eventually gets greater that 50% approval.  (Is it me, or do they seem to be twisting themselves in knots just to make sure "option c" is in there?)

While details of the alternative representative group need not be decided upon prior to step 1, the FSN believes it would be helpful to have a framework in mind as faculty members decide whether or not to support such a petition. 

Wait.  What?  I wish I had known details weren't important.  Think how much time we could have saved at the negotiation table if we had only granted that details weren't important.  I am sure the Administration would agree.  Trust me!

Therefore, the FSN is currently developing a “white paper” that provides a substantive model for shared governance at SIUC.  This framework builds on the current Faculty Senate’s role in shared governance in our university, but proposes specific new authority and structure to facilitate its role as the entity responsible for representation of T/TT faculty in collective bargaining.   

And Magical Rainbow Unicorns!  Please let there be "entities" like Rainbow Unicorns.  Seriously, when you are completely re-imagining the university with no direct consultation with the organization you intend to magically transform, why be so Muggle about it?

After internal review

Exactly whose internals?

, this “white paper” will be vetted through an attorney and the Federal Labor Management Standards to ensure the feasibility of our proposal.  On Monday, October 31, 2011 we will circulate this “white paper” and begin collecting signatures for the petition.

So, all this is happening this weekend?  Or will the paper circulate before it has been internally reviewed and legally vetted.  Oh wait.  Do they have a bureaucratic paperwork acceleration spell?

The proposal considers three primary roles for the Faculty Senate and specific sub-committees, thereof, as follows:

Policies and Procedures
University policies and procedures affecting T/TT faculty will be negotiated with the administration by the Faculty Senate who will, when appropriate, seek to enter into memoranda of understanding or memoranda of agreement to formalize and make binding specific policies. 

Because the FS can just do this, right?  It's completely within the purview of their charge as a university entity?  Sure they can...after the entire FS drinks the polyjuice picnic potion the FSN has been cooking up.

Salaries, hours and related terms and conditions of employment
Matters relating to salaries and compensation will be negotiated by the SIU Representative Faculty Committee, a standing subcommittee of the Faculty Senate to be composed only of representatives drawn from faculty within the bargaining unit.

Look Dumbledore, we made a commttee appear out of thin air!  All by ourselves and in less than a week!

Grievance Resolution
Grievance and dispute resolution will be handled by the Judicial Review Board (JRB), which will be substantially strengthened and empowered by this designation.

Note to self:  Put in order for a set of +5 Girdles of Godly Strength for the JRB.

The “white paper” and detail on how, when, and where to sign the card will soon follow.

It was a "grey paper," but it fell in a deep hole with a Balrog over the weekend.  We're pretty sure it will show up in the woods any moment now, all new and white and pretty and oh-so-powerful!  Yup.  Any moment now.  Wait.  Did that tree just wink at me?

Faculty for Sensible Negotiations, a.k.a.
   Faculty for Faculty Senate Negotiations &
   Faculty for No Negotiations

Fafenfusnussen, y'all!


  1. To be clear, I do not support this effort. But I wonder whether they are required under law to offer a no union representation option? Is that something under Taft-Hartley, for example?

  2. WTH is deadline to submit votes? Is it a process which may last for years to come? This is how I read FSN’s statement, “We will start collecting signatures on October 31, 2011 but will continue to collect till we get 30% signatures. We will then check back how many faculty members who signed the petition are still here. We will send another petition to collect more signatures. The process will continue till… (we don’t know till when), but we are determined to be successful sometime in the 21 century. ”

  3. I'm not a lawyer, but...October 28, 2011 at 8:05 AM

    Section 1110.8d) "Each signature appearing on an authorization card or petition shall be effective for six months from the date it was given."

  4. I'm not a lawyer either, but I don't find anything in my reading of Taft-Hartley or the IELRB that requires the presence of option c or of three options.

    I agree that the IELRB document makes clear a deadline for the petition. I note that the FSN is not so clear about that deadline in their proposal, and that there is a significant difference between a process that "may take six months" and a petition that has a deadline of six months to remain valid.

    I believe, based on informal reports from folks who have attended the FSN picnic or had other encounters with its members, that there is a rift in our sensible colleagues. There are folks on the FSN who adamantly want no faculty bargaining (who vocally disavow "shared governance"), and there are folks who see the need to provide an alternative "entity" to the FA to engage in bargaining in order to have any traction with dissatisfied faculty. This announcement of their plan shows the convoluted ways they are trying to appease both groups.

    You have my sympathies, FSN. It is hard when everyone in your group doesn't agree and your policies/plans must contort to remain politically viable, even if that compromise impacts the clarity and force of your goals. I hope, in the lyrics of Jane Siberry, you "take a lesson from the strangeness you feel."

  5. Seems the FA is on the run...and perhaps its last legs. You're very defensive and, well, offensive, in this post. It may well be the beginning of the end and I suspect you know it.

  6. Or perhaps the FSN realizes that shared governance is important to some of their colleagues and wants to provide options that ALL of the faculty can choose from. That seems pretty reasonable to me.

  7. I support the FA but I really wish you would cease with the sarcasm, e.g. that displayed in the blue commentary above. I think this is a turnoff to those who are not current members but have some level of support towards the unions. It harms the FA. Please stop.

  8. So one of my questions about the FSN has been, do they know anything about Illinois labor law? Related, I wondered if they are consulting with people who do? It seems the answer to both is a resounding no.

    As I have posted before, the ILRB is very unlikely to accept the FS, or any "special committee" of the FS as a representative of a bargaining unit. They can't because it's a creation of management, has management members such as deans, and is funded by management.

    1. This person's last name is Becker!

    2. Mister X wrote: "As an NTT leader that's what I expected."

      I know of no NTT leader named Becker. Guess again!

  9. I have to say that I too find the sarcasm off-putting. When it's speaking truth to power, the FA nails it. I'm with you all the way, Johnny, and appreciate your efforts. Nothing like pointed sarcasm when the time is right too. But it just feels right now. The issues are real and serious and don't demand sarcasm to be clarified. My 2 cents.

  10. Mister X - The FSN proposal (I think) is to have a committee within the FS that includes only members of our bargaining unit.

  11. Anonymous said...
    "Mister X - The FSN proposal (I think) is to have a committee within the FS that includes only members of our bargaining unit."

    That's a distinction without a difference, legally. It remains that the FS is a creation of the University and funded by it. You can't firewall it, and it's not independent.

  12. FSN lacks S, i.e., Sense

  13. I appreciate the feedback re: sarcasm. And the point about truth to power is a good one. It's one thing to speak from a power-down place to those over you and use whatever tactics are necessary and available. Unless one truly believes FSN is "pawn" of the Administration (and I do not), that kind of power relationship and therefore these kinds of tactics do not apply.

    Here, though, my sarcasm (appropriate or not) is sourced more in disappointment. I have encouraged those disaffected with the FA to propose alternatives. I will admit that there is part of me that would very much like to see a good alternative to the FA. Maybe that white paper, when it appears, will benefit from the challenges we raise here and propose something that might seem more viable.

    I do think the current (harbinger of a) proposal engages in a lot of "magical thinking" and, well, foolishness -- so I reply in kind. If the FS is your main body to be elevated and transformed to the task, I think you have an obligations (professional and ethical) to be working with them now. That the FSN is not creates a problematic and dangerous illusion of sensibility. That illusion is only made worse by the belief that the details of this alternative to the FA not be defined before we start poling the faculty. It is dangerous and not sensible to petition the faculty to choose between the FA and an unlikely, ill-considered alternative. How can one make an informed choice about that? How can that choice be anything but reactionary? How is that sensible?

    One last point since I am well beyond sound-byte length already: This is not an FA blog. As the disclaimer to the right declaims: "Our bloggers speak only for themselves (not their departments, their disciplines, the Faculty Association, or anyone else)." I do not hold office in the FA (although I will be a sabbatical replacement on the DRC next semester). I have only volunteered my labor (quite a lot of it, lately) to the current cause. My tactics here (for good or ill) are my own.

    Your feedback is welcome, here or privately through my Google profile (reached by clicking on my name/image in these comments). And of course, you are always welcome to just not come here or comment if you find the content too noisome.

  14. Whatever your opinion of the FSN proposal (such as it is to date) the Faculty Senate is a creation of the faculty. Its existence and powers are a consequence of provisions of the Faculty /Faculty Senate Operating Paper which are voted on by the faculty. It is not created by the administration as Mr X suggests.

  15. Get your facts straight.
    Several members on the senate are administrators. Faculty senate’s funding come from the administration. Items voted by FS are not binding nor have any legal standing. Faculty senate secretary is paid by the administration. Do you really think FS can negotiate on behalf of the faculty? No way.

  16. Although some have AP appointments (mostly partial) every member of the senate was elected by the faculty. Apparently the faculty in those colleges do not have the disdain you have for "administrators". The Secretary of the Senate is a faculty member elected by the senate, and at present that position is held by an FA supporter.

  17. No, they don't because most of them (with a few honorable exceptions) hope to be administrators themselves.

  18. To me the FSN are not even worth the space their emails take up on our hard disks.....they are a complete joke, as exemplified by JG's quite funny analysis above.....its sad that people like them exist in this world, and especially on the campus of a good research university, very sad indeed...


I will review and post comments as quickly as I can. Comments that are substantive and not vicious will be posted promptly, including critical ones. "Substantive" here means that your comment needs to be more than a simple expression of approval or disapproval. "Vicious" refers to personal attacks, vile rhetoric, and anything else I end up deeming too nasty to post.