Sunday, October 30, 2011

Official Faculty Association Bargaining Report

As promised, here is the official FA bargaining report.  I think I covered most of these points, but Randy's clarifications are important. 

Bargaining Report 29OCT2011-1


  1. Re: overload pay. What about setting it at 2/3 a normal course? I realize the FA wants to avoid having a wide range of possible reimbursement (50% - 100% of normal course pay) so we don't have to "race to the bottom." I also realize that admin wants to pay as little as possible for as much as possible. Would this be an ok compromise? I know that in other professions, overtime means time-and-a-half, but from what I understand most academics are *not* paid a full month's salary for an overload course. In that regard, we have it pretty good...

    Might this be a good area to compromise, especially since the public view of the labor dispute seems centered around our supposed money-grubbing?

    I know this is obviously not the only issue on the table, or even the most important one, but I do wonder if this position unnecessarily feeds into general misconceptions about what the FA wants...

  2. Dani,
    This is not a compromise, this is begging. Can you, Cheng, or someone tell the logic behind paying less for the overload course than the regular course? Does the overload course take less effort to teach than the regular course? Or, are you expected to teach that course half heartedly because you are only paid half? Again, this is not about money but about principle. If there is a fairly good rationale behind offering ½ month pay for overload, I am all for it.

  3. One month's pay for an overload course is already less than the pay most receive for teaching a regular course. What is so sacred about one month? Why shouldn't I get two month's of pay for teaching an extra course? Why shouldn't I get a percentage of the tuition paid by the students in the course? Teach more students, earn more money.

  4. Your argument makes sense, but then what is the logic behind most other institutions not offering a full month's pay? I don't mean this rhetorically, I honestly don't know what rationale they use... If they don't have any logical reason beyond "we've always done it this way" that doesn't mean that we have to blindly follow, of course. However, I do feel that this particular issue may be one that puts us on shakier ground than necessary.

    If we could get a contract that says no furloughs except when *absolutely* necessary to prevent the university from closing, decent RIF language, and modest raises, I would be ok taking 2/3 of a months pay for an overload course. Is that completely fair? I'm not sure, but in this economic & political climate I'm ok making a small concession and revisiting this issue next contract.

    Again, I realize that this isn't the main issue, and I also realize that it's the admin's refusal to use interest-based bargaining that puts us in the awkward position of having to think in these terms. This is just one area that I thought could use some movement.

  5. As someone who has taught overload courses elsewhere as well as here, the tenth month's salary that I receive is a great perk. The university where I got my Ph.D. from is very strongly unionized, even more so than here. And yet, faculty typically got paid a flat adjunct rate for teaching a summer course: about $3,500 if memory serves me correctly, although that was five years ago so perhaps it is a bit more now with inflation. Perhaps?

    By contrast, as an assistant professor, I received $6,282 before taxes last summer. Associate and full professors will have made considerably more given that their monthly salary is greater than mine. But even $6,282 is 1.8 times what I remember was the going rate for ALL professor ranks to do a summer class at the university where I earned my masters and Ph.D.

    So, I am with Dani in suggesting that we ought to compromise on this and move on. Or I will put it differently: I will be extremely pissed if we end up striking over THIS issue come Thursday.

  6. We may not be striking over THIS issue on Thursday. It will be on the tenure, academic freedom, FE definitions and other important issues on which the administration may not budge.

  7. Disgusted, your point is well taken, but do not assume your 10th month salary is representative. As a 20 year faculty member at associate level I only make 200 a month more than you during the regular year. The problem of salary compression at the higher rank is one of the things the union has bargained for successfully in the past.

  8. Fair enough, Anonymous 4:15. Indeed, it is out of recognition that having a union here on campus meant that I got a decent salary offer when I got hired, that I joined the FA immediately upon being hired here four years ago.

    In a better economic climate, which I hope will the case the next contract round, there still needs to be more done on salary compression. Or, did the remedies for that kick in when people advance rank?

  9. No, it is still a problem and, to its credit, the FA began to address it during the last contract negotiations.

  10. We were making some headway on salary compression, but that seems to have slowed since the expiration of the previous contract.

    I've heard that the big behind-the-scenes drivers on overload are distance learning and the University College. The Administration wants to staff the latter preferably with full time faculty. But they don't want to hire new faculty and they don't want to pull from the already tight course offerings within majors. So, it has to be done with overtime in most cases. But the university really doesn't have the resources to pay a fair wage for overload courses (UC, DL, or otherwise). So, the Admin is trying very hard to lowball the overload pay and the FA is trying to (for the reasons already addressed) keep it reasonable.

    I agree that few of us are likely to want to strike over overload alone. As long as I cannot be forced to teach an overload and my salary is otherwise reasonable, the Admin can offer what it wants. If it is not worth my time and effort, I won't do it. That's my $.02, though (which may be about what the Administration is offering for overtime, come to think of it).

  11. Just a few comments on Randy's bargaining update regarding RIF:

    RIF - The FA's interest is transparency and accountability... The current board policy has the following requirements concerning the Board declaring a financial exigency: (Policies 2.C. 1.f and following)

    The requirements in this policy clearly state that the financial issues leading to the exigency must be documented; faculty must be involved in the decision to recommend an exigency to the Board; all other workable non-personnel cuts must be made; the plan to deal with the exigency must minimize the impact on educational process; personnel cuts must include ALL employee types including administrators; faculty must be included in decisions on program cuts and which faculty positions would be eliminated.

    The Board is accountable not only to the Governor, the Board of Higher Education and the taxpayers of Illinois, but compliance audits are performed by the Auditor General's contracted outside auditors to be sure that the University is following its policies.

    It looks like there is plenty of transparency and accountability in the current policy. The administration has offered to make this policy part of the FA contract, but the FA bargaining team has refused that offer.

  12. The comparison of overload pay to time and one-half overtime pay for other employees has one major flaw - faculty are considered "exempt" employees and are therefore not eligible for "overtime". That is why overload courses are strictly voluntary. The many A/P positions on campus, and several civil service positions on campus are also "exempt". We don't get "overload" pay for taking on additional duties, and performance of such duties are not strictly voluntary. If you are getting ANY overload pay (even $.02, Jonny) you are ahead of most and shouldn't be complaining.

  13. Or, conversely, I should be joining and encouraging others in fighting the unfair labor practice of involuntary overload without even $.02 in compensation. Which, hey, I am.

    I am not complaining, though. I believe I stated quite clearly that I will not work an overload assignment unless it is worth it. I won't teach a DL class unless it can be part of my regular load or, as an overload, comes with additional pay that makes it worth my while. I won't teach in the UC unless similar conditions apply.

    And I stand beside my colleagues in other bargaining units in fighting to be able to make the same choice.

    As to the RIF language, why won't the BOT team allow the faculty to file grievance if they perceive those conditions are not being met? If they are so clear and transparent, they need also to be accountable.

    But I am thankful that Administration's team finally sees the need to put that BOT policy language in the contract. As we've seen this year, BOT policy can be easily changed while a contract cannot. And it took a LOOOONG time to finally convince them this language needed to be in the contract.

  14. Yes, indeed, it did. But it also seems to those of us on the outside that it took a LOOOONGGG time for the FA to give up on joint-declaration. Once both sides conceded, I began to hope for a compromise reached in time to avert a strike. I still hold out hope for that, but we are running out of time.

  15. 6:17: The explicit incorporation of the BOT language into the contract is a step in the right direction which the FA team has rejected only in the sense that it believes that transparency and accountability require more than the BOT policy delivers. Among the things the BOT policy fails to deliver are a clear definition of financial exigency as a crisis that threatens the viability of the institution, and the principle that faculty can be laid off only in the case of financial exigency. (Faculty can be terminated for just cause or in the case of program elimination, but not laid off. This distinction matters, as by its refusal to include "only" the administration appears to be determined to retain alternative routes to laying off faculty in lesser financial crises.

    You are far too sanguine about the power of the external audit. Official external audits have regularly said that SIUC was in fine financial shape. And when an internal report showed that SIUC ran a $15.8 million surplus in FY 2010, the Chancellor stuck to her claim that SIUC actually faces a huge structural deficit. To do so she was willing to say that SIUC had woefully inadequate cash reserves before she arrived on the scene to shore things up--despite the glowing external audits. For more detail on this old debate, see this post.

  16. Given the variation in people's salaries, it makes sense to have a fixed sum for courses taught in the summer as well as distance learning courses. So then the issue need not be whether the amount should be half of one's one month salary or three-fourths of one's one month salary. One thing of course is that this same approach should be taken in relation to salaries for chairs and directors over the summer months. Many universities have a policy in place where chairs and directors do not automatically get 12 months salary. They get 9 months like everyone else and then a set amount. This way in the case of faculty and chairs and directors-only those who are really interested in doing that particular job--teaching a course during the summer or teaching a distance learning course or chairing a department or directing a program will apply to do this. Distance learning can be fun but if the university does not provide the appropriate teaching support in terms of resources (am not talking about salary here) that is bound to fail. Right now, many of the classrooms are in a miserable state with leaky ceilings and bad technology....This administration is not really serious about giving the students value for their money. They are only interested in raising money through tuition to pay for athletics, logos and the like.

  17. To Chancellor Cheng's credit, she has talked about the need to fix our classrooms. I agree that that didn't seem to be on administrators' radar screen previously, but she seems at least to understand the need.

    Now, it would be nice if our administrators actually showed more interest in getting the books back in the library than in designing a new logo (not that I dislike the logo - I actually may be one of the few on this website who thinks it's better than the old one). Still, we shouldn't fritter money away like that when we still have books in storage and leaks on ceilings.

  18. Disgusted, you forget that sports is the priority at SIUC, not books and libraries.


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