Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Back on the Line for Another Day

The Chancellor's stunt last night -- and it was certainly a stunt -- has assured another day of picketing, another day of missed classes, when there could so easily not have been one.  The Administration has made a "final" offer that "addresses" all of the faculty concerns (much in the same way a bully's taunt  "stop hitting yourself" addresses violence).  After putting this offer on the table, the BOT team went home and the Chancellor used a press conference to announce that the Administration was done for the night.

All that is clear in that "final" proposal is that we are close enough that a continued commitment to bargaining could have ended this thing in the late night or early morning hours. But the Administration would rather see the strike go on, would rather see students hoping to graduate soon face unqualified or no instructors in their upper level classes. 

Yesterday was the first day of classes since the Adinistration's census last week.  This was the day the Chancellor had to begin to deliver on her promise to provide "qualified substitute instructors" in those classes.  In some few cases, she may have delivered on this promise.  But in far too many cases, the substitutes were not present, were unable to do anything more than take attendance and hold the space, or just read from the texbook.  We are starting to hear these stories on the picket line from very frustrated students.  We are seeing them reported in the press.   Students are encouraged to share their experiences of the Chancellor's version of "business as usual" on the newly re-opened SIUC Facebook page...or even here. 

But maybe they already have made their presence known.  At the same time the Administration was devising its latest tactics in misdirection and abuse of process, hundreds of students formed a very large, very vocal crowd of supporters for the faculty on strike.  They marched from Anthony Hall to several of the picket locations then back to the Student Center and finally fully surrounded Anthony Hall. Their support for their faculty was truly inspiring. 

So, on a day when we might actually have gotten back to real "business as usual" the Administration has chosen to drag the process out, endure the likely continued growth of the student protest, avoid the accumulation of further evidence of their failure to provide qualified instruction in classes, and face the firm resolve of the Faculty on strike. Further evidence of their skewed priorities and short-sightedness.

The FA critics will enjoy something like free-rein on this site again today as most of the FA are either back at the bargaining table or back on the picket line.  These critics' chides, critiques, venom and "advice" are welcome -- we all need an outlet, after all.  Mine, today, is on the picket line where we are making a difference and will continue to do so.


  1. Best wishes for continued picketing and bargaining today. Perhaps the administration's asshattery is working in your favor after all … because once the students get involved, the faculty issues might actually get heard !

  2. Didn't see much coverage around 8am, could stuff finally be coming together? Here's to hoping!

  3. What has the strike achieved for the faculty the union represents?

    1. FE? Board gave up nothing. They put current policy in the contract and right to strike if FE happens. This was issue #1. The FA lost this one big time.

    2. RIF? Same outcome as before strike. RIF depends on FE, which is in BOT control.

    3. Pay raise? Same as before. FA said it rejected pay increase to save tuition increase. Now it accepts same across the board increase as other units. Possibly more if Illinois gives us more revenue.

    4. Furloughs? Nothing yet

    5. Fair share? Nada

    6. What about all the fuss over online courses and academic freedom issues that were so important before the strike?

    7. Back to work agreement? FA wants to be paid for striking?

  4. Concerned from abroad.November 8, 2011 at 7:59 AM

    After reading the proposal myself, found here http://chancellor.siuc.edu/labor/botresponse.html , I think that taking one night's break to read it carefully and craft a careful response is actually a good thing. Especially given the tone of this most recent post: tempers are flaring, people are tired and rightfully upset at the situation. This is the nature of the beast, negotiations that are this important need careful consideration, not the kind provided by cups and cups of coffee and sleeping bag comfort. I hope this all gets resolved this week. SIUC has been a great institution and it need to get back to that.

  5. Certain members of the FA seem bound and determined to chart a course for FA extinction. The baseless rhetoric in Mister Jonny's post does nothing to move the discussion forward. He should be ashamed. Rank and file FA members need to take control of their own fate once this contract issue is settled.

    And do any of the strikers really think they're gonna get paid for the days they were on strike? OMG. LMFAO.

    And Faculty at Work is absolutly correct. The union gains next to nothing from the strike. Rabid union members need to wipe the foam of their mouths and take a good, hard look at how they've been manipulated through this whole process and demand better leadership.

  6. How does the Faculty Association reconcile championing academic freedom and the position the union has taken to enforce compulsory collection of dues through "fair share"? Doesn't the clear choice made by well over half the tenured and tenure-track faculty not to join the union deserve respect or does the FA place the financial desires of the IEA above the principles and decisions of their fellow faculty members?

  7. Clearly things are starting to fall apart for the FA.

  8. You say rabid. I say committed and compassionate. The strikers respect the rights of those who do not support them to feel the way they do. Whereas the rabid antidemocracy folks continually slam them in the media, make obscene gestures or comments as they drive by, or even throw things at peasefull protestors. And the faculty on the line went on strike assuming they would lose income. They didn't do this with the intention of getting paid to strike. But think about this. You faculty who didn't strike know full well that the majority of your income does not come from contact hours with students. But that is exactly the assumption Cheng is operating under when it come to docking pay. They still have to do as much grading, as much committee work and as much research to fulfill their obligations this semester, regardless of whether they taught for three days.

  9. "Clearly thins are starting to fall apart for the FA."

    Because a few angry ass hats are mad about a strike?

  10. "Because a few angry ass hats are mad about a strike?"

    No. Because a very much larger group of tenured faculty, and indeed the entire campus -faculty, students and staff - is gonna realize that there will be no real change in the contract offer as it existed before the strike and the final version that emerges from negotiations. In the end, the strike will have been about nothing.

    That's what the "ass hats" are gonna be mad about.

    Perhaps it is time for you to actually look at what's going on.

  11. SIU allowing comments on its Facebook wall again


    "As you may have noticed, a few days ago, we temporarily disabled the comments feature. For this, we owe you an apology and explanation. A few evenings ago we began receiving a large number of posts related to a recent labor dispute involving one of our four unions on campus. Our faculty, students, alumni, and supporters are spirited and passionately committed to the success of our students and university, and we know that this sentiment is at the core of all of these posts. However, a number of posts contained content that we deemed inappropriate because they contained crude language or attacks of a personal nature. Due to the high volume of posts and that the posts were coming in the early morning hours, it became impossible for our moderator to monitor comments that we deemed inappropriate or disrespectful."

  12. Three unions got good contracts. The FA contract will be much better than the imposed terms. 3.5 out of 4 is a B+. Rita forced the strike by walking out on bargaining, F.

  13. I am not in the union -- and I still think the strike was a mistake -- but I also don't think it is fair to characterize the gains made so far (and those likely to be made) as inconsequential. While the original differences at the time of the strike were subtle (and hence why I view the strike as not worth the potential damage), I don't think it is a fair taunt to say that the improvements are nothing (of course they will seem small when the differences are small). Plus I just want this over with, so I don't know what the taunters hope to gain by trying to get a rise out of strikers.

    Re: fair share -- while I don't support mandatory payment for union dues without voting privileges, I'm coming around to the idea that if the faculty really want a union, then everyone should be paying (and voting!) members. However, we cannot know what the faculty want without a vote, which is why I turned in my signed FSN card. I would accept the outcome of the vote that would born out of that process; if the faculty truly want a union, then I would become a paying, voting member. People should be willing to put their money (and action) where their mouths are. Too many fence sitters.

  14. Having many faculty not joined to FA doesn't mean that they all do not agree with what FA is fighting for. Sorry to say that most of them are scared for getting penalized or just wanna go over someone else's shoulder and enjoy the benefits FA is gonna earn. Most people are too selfish and have forgotten that what they enjoy right now came from someones'fight over the time.
    Those who are against the strike:
    please stand together, show the world you are educated enough to fight for what is right.

  15. Mike:

    3.5? I agree. 3 for other 3 unions & .5 for us. So FA is a 50%? F for FA. Thanks for admitting failure.

    The real question is whether strike was worth it. I just reread what Cheng & FA said they wanted before the strike and what the FA has now. Did FA get ANYTHING they wanted? Read the statement last week by Cheng. Tell me what FA got that she wasn't offering to us pre strike

  16. Why has eh FA bargaining to come back to the table this morning? They got a proposal at 5:30 last evening but have not responded ???? What is going on

  17. Just to be clear...no one FORCED any one to strike.
    The FA could have chosen to keep its members working while continuing to negotiate. The strikers walked off the job on their own free will. They can come back to the job at any time. To say anyone FORCED them to strike is just plain silly. If they didn't WANT to strike, they wouldn't have.

  18. Back from the picket lines. I was out on Pleasant Hill. I just talked to two non striking members of my department and they have now joined the union! They feel they cannot go on strike but did want to help. Someone from Art & D who cannot afford to go on strike came out with his wife to picket with us. I think if we cannot get a deal by tonight we may be able to get more faculty to join the strike.

  19. I heard that the names of Deans of colleges (COLA and College of Science among others) and chairs of departments are being added onto faculty's Blackboard rosters as "section instructors". This too without any notification!!

  20. 11:45 AM,

    You said: "The FA could have chosen to keep its members working while continuing to negotiate."

    No we could not have. The Admin walked out on talks Wed night. They would not talk until Sunday. So while we could have postponed the strike, we could not have negotiated. You cannot do A&B if you can't do B. If we had not gone on strike, the talks would not have resumed.

    Rita wanted to see how strong we were. That is the most parsimonious explanation. If you are running a steel plant I can understand that mentality. What are we?

  21. "All that is clear in that "final" proposal is that we are close enough that a continued commitment to bargaining could have ended this thing in the late night or early morning hours."

    If this is the case then I will assume there will be an agreement some time today. Any update on the negotiations? I am hoping if the two sides are as close as you say that this will all be over shortly.

  22. 1:49 PM,


    If you fence sitters want to help, call your dean and chair and Rita's office and say you will join the strike tomorrow if there is no settlement tonight! Do it - you can help tip the balance!

  23. Mike,

    The FA set the deadline...they could have moved it if they wanted to. Don't tell me that the FA was FORCED to go on strike.

    Rita wanted to see how strong you were? Well, how strong are you? About 130 faculty on strike? Union membership is something over 200. Tenured faculty number about 700. Certainly you aren't claiming strength there. Dave at one point said a strike would affect thousands of students and thousands of classes. Not happening....despite what the most rabid among you might claim. LOL. I don't really believe anything Dave says anymore.

    Now we're starting to hear whining about not being paid while striking.

    Have you started considering your COBRA options yet?

  24. 1:57 PM,

    Your numbers are wrong. There are 664 TT faculty in the bargaining unit. Maybe 10% are on leave. I am told the DRC survey found the 188 faculty would strike and estimates give the other night put it at over 200. So that is about 1/3. We had enough strength to force her back o the table and get some concessions. We will not get all we want.

    (My estimate is that about 60-70% TT faculty are pro union and 15-25% are anti-union. I think, and it is only a guess, is that Rita's actions will increase pro-union sentiment.)

    Trade unionism is still new concept for many college faculty. It will be another generation before we have the kind solidarity ethic that other sectors have. But we forced many concessions from the Administration.

  25. "All that is clear in that "final" proposal is that we are close enough that a continued commitment to bargaining could have ended this thing in the late night or early morning hours. But the Administration would rather see the strike go on, would rather see students hoping to graduate soon face unqualified or no instructors in their upper level classes."

    Given that statement, it seems clear that, at just after 2 p.m., its the FA what wants the strike to go on.

  26. 2:08 PM,

    No one wants to stay to strike.

  27. Mike wrote:

    "(My estimate is that about 60-70% TT faculty are pro union and 15-25% are anti-union. I think, and it is only a guess, is that Rita's actions will increase pro-union sentiment.)"

    For this to be true, virtually all fence-sitters (let's say, non-strikers and non FSN-signers) would have to be closet-pro-unionites. I would be surprised if that is true (but am open to being proven wrong). To be fair to the union, I think it is hard to say one is pro-union if one is unwilling to pay union dues. If you merely mean "sympathetic to the union" then that is another story.

    Still, one way to find out: let's have a vote some time.

  28. Anon 1:42 PM wrote: "I heard that the names of Deans of colleges (COLA and College of Science among others) and chairs of departments are being added onto faculty's Blackboard rosters as "section instructors"."

    Actually I think this is not new; it happened right after the strike was called (I noticed it on Thurs or Fri). They are doing this for all classes, not just strikers (I had already made clear I wasn't going to strike). Meh. I don't think this is objectionable--what else do you expect them to do?

  29. Bashing the striking faculty is likely to be about as (un)productive as the ad hominem attacks on administrators. I am reminded of the immortal words of one Rodney King...

  30. Beezer:

    The Blackboard addition happened on Wed. night. I expected them to do it, but I wish they would have at least waited until 12:01 AM on Thursday.

  31. Paranoid said: (re: blackboard add-ons):

    "I wish they would have at least waited until 12:01 AM on Thursday."

    I understand the sentiment, but at least based on my past experience with blackboard, I think that someone has to manually make all these changes, so that probably took some time (in which case, I would not be surprised if it started Wed night to make sure it was done by 8 am thurs...)

  32. Oh, please stop acting like anyone WANTED to strike. That's absurd. You may not agree that they were "forced", but obviously no one wanted to risk their jobs, not get paid, endure community & colleague derision (as well as support, of course), and spend hours and hours standing around on a street corner holding a sign in all kinds of weather instead of cozy in their offices and classrooms doing what they love (most of them). Strikes are no fun for anyone. They're an endurance test with high stakes - which is why they're rare and the number of those actually participating is always much lower than the number of those who support the goals. Not everyone has the courage/ability/willingness to put it all on the line to stand up for better treatment for all, including those who disparage them for it. It's one thing to disagree with the efficacy of a strike, but it's really low to call into question the motives of people who are the ONLY ones actually risking anything in this situation.

  33. The FA union needs to set aside reserve funds so that the faculty who fought hard and were not afraid to go on strike so that the university and all the other faculty could benefit are reimbursed for their efforts.

  34. No Back to Work PayNovember 8, 2011 at 7:44 PM

    Mike wrote:

    "No one wants to stay to strike."

    Well, FA told people "back to work pay is customary." So if you anticipate pay for not working, then sure it would be better to strike. Many strikers are just staying home, right? And they will get paid for it? Sounds good to me!

  35. Some of these post make it look like people are looking for a bad guy (FA? Administration? Rita? Picketers?). Why does someone have to be postured in an opposing position simply because a few comment posters on this blog have opinions and point-of-views? I am out on the picket line. I have a point-of-view and I am expressing it. You have yours, and you are encouraged to express it. Isn’t a university a forum for an open dialogue where questions are raised and multiple voices answer to give form to new possibilities?
    We are thinking people and can raise above the finger pointing and the he-said-she-said posturing reminiscent of cable news. Educational philosopher John Dewey said, “Thinking, in other words, is the intentional endeavor to discover specific connections between something which we do and the consequences which result, so that the two become continuous.” Democracy and Education, 1916; MW 9:152-53
    Whether we are on the picket lines or not, as thinking people witnessing the SIUC Faculty strike, we are taking action, drawing connections, and exploring consequences. From where I sit, there seems to be no place for bad guys.

  36. One very ticked off history professorNovember 8, 2011 at 8:14 PM

    No, back-to-work pay is to make up missed classes for our students so they are actually competently instructed by professional scholars. In my department, Chancellor Cheng and Dean Leonard have made a complete mockery of "students will be taught by experienced instructors." Dr. Winters anybody? Teaching a history class? We heard stories that he simply outlined the textbook chapter yesterday morning. Our students outline the textbook chapters all the time when they are studying for exams (well at least our good ones do). Not those of us who actually spent 8-10 years earning history Ph.D.s, plus years in the field publishing books and articles and developing a range of courses from the survey in the Core to graduate-level seminars.

    But I know several history colleagues, myself included, who are prepared to accept the lost pay if we can have a transparent process on furloughs and clean back-to-work language. And we are buoyed by the support of over a thousand students today at the rally at 3:30, larger even in turnout than yesterday's. They get why we are standing out there; do those of you with false bitterness driving past us every morning get it? Or are you so warped by wanting to kiss up to Rita Cheng, Glenn Poshard, and their cronies around here that you have lost any sense of what is just and fair?

  37. Faculty at Work:

    They can no longer fire us with 30 days notice, thats a BIG gain. Check out those imposed terms from late April! We also got good gains on FE and RIF, still being finalized, so check those out also.

  38. One very ticked off history professorNovember 8, 2011 at 8:28 PM

    RIF language that accords with common AAUP practice... Check (during strike)

    Distance Education can only be a voluntary assignment - professors may opt out due to pedagogical reasons... Check (during strike deadline period I believe is when that was accomplished)

    Overload assignments during summer and face-to-face ones during school year are now normalized in the contract at 1.0 month per 3-credit course... Check (during strike)

    26:1 student ratio maintained... Check (during strike deadline period I believe)

    Sexual harrassment and conflict-of-interest policies to be side-bargained with the services of federal mediators and by next summer... Check (during strike)

    So basically, those of you who are bitter and whining right now about how unpleasant all of this strike business is: we have secured everyone a far fairer contract as of tonight than was on offer from the BOT six days ago when the strike began. And this information is about a day old, as the teams are still bargaining and we are not hearing a lot of news yet as members about what was negotiated back and forth today. I imagine we are closer than we were this morning to resolving this.

    But either way you look at it, we are close to having an acceptable contract, something which would not have occurred at all those of us striking not been willing to stand up for our rights as educational professionals on this campus.

    So, in short, stop kvetching!

  39. (Sorry if I ramble. I am merely brainstorming over a few issues mentioned by other posters)

    According to the Chicago Tribune, roughly 1/3 of the tenured faculty are dues-paying members of the union. By definition, this means they are pro-union. If you are pro-union, why would you not join the union in the first place? Fear of backlash for simply joining?-->Doubtful. Not even all of the dues-paying members are on strike (I am assuming this is for practical reasons, and not political).

    With that stated, 1/3 of the faculty want the other 2/3 to pay a "fair share" to be represented (This makes sense to people in unions, which blows my mind)? The rhetoric I have heard from pro-union teachers has been worse than the PREDICTABLE rhetoric of Rita Cheng.

    I have witnessed teachers outright encouraging students to skip classes, walkout, and not attend. The rhetoric stemming from the FA is absurd. This "final" offer seems a lot like what has already been presented. What rhetoric will I encounter when the FA signs a contract strikingly similar to what was on the table before striking?

    The rhetoric from striking teachers is scary, and often was filled with more misinformation than Rita Cheng has ever provided. Plus, the (predictable) information provided by Rita was to be expected considering the possible strike she was dealing with (or not dealing with, depending on POV).

    I am disappointed that the highly qualified teachers on strike think it is intelligent to FORCE 2/3 of the faculty to pay fees for representation they do not want.

    A Back to Work agreement that includes pay while on strike is the most laughable thing I have heard of. Union members had the CHOICE to go on strike. There are consequences for every choice made in life. The choice to strike should not be exempt. If there are potential benefits from being on strike, then an individual must be aware that there are potential disadvantages too.

    I have rambled enough about my thoughts. Thank you for reading. Sorry if you disagree, but I wanted to feel "heard". Thank you.

  40. "We are committed, as ever, to securing a fair contract agreement as quickly as possible in order to put an end to the strike on the SIUC campus. We call upon the administration team to show an equal commitment to resolving our outstanding differences, and to do so without any interruption in negotiations." -Dave Johnson (FA)

    Then why invite the media? The media being present does not cause interruptions?

    "Members of the media are welcome to accompany us to the bargaining room." -Dave Johnson (FA)

  41. Grad student,

    I agree faculty should not encourage students to miss class. I have told mine via email that it up to them but that I will make up all instructional time lost - whether or not I am paid for this.

    We have a union because a majority of the faculty voted to have a union. However, some people like the contracts but just don't want to pay the dues. Many of the nonstriking faculty in my department support the strike and some come out to picket with us, but they teach their own classes because they weren't willing to risk the loss of pay or are concerned about their visa status.

    The other unions got a deal that they would get fair share if their membership hits 50%. But the Admin doesn't want to give that to us because they know we are getting close to 50%. We had 40% in mid October and more people are joining. If we had fair share and people don't like the union they can vote to decertify it.

  42. Disgusted entirely at the BOT nowNovember 8, 2011 at 9:13 PM

    But of course, Mike Eichholz is holding out strong for trying to get 30% to sign a decertification campaign. Given that we are winning on practically every bargaining issue since the strike, and students are massively in support of us (and growing in numbers by the day), good luck with that Mike!

  43. Please make that, "good luck with that Mike E."

  44. My point was that the strike has been a failure, if the goal was to make the contract better than what the admin offered last week. Just before the strike, the FA said the major issues were:

    1. Furloughs (no deal yet)
    2. Salary increase (FA took the admin offer after saying they didn't want to hurt students by taking it)
    3. RIF and FE

    ON RiF: "RIF language that accords with common AAUP practice... Check (during strike)"

    That's not even close to what FA said they wanted on this number one issue. FA didn't get any say in the decision; there is no arbitration or grievance. Both FA proposals are lost. Instead, it looks a lot like what Cheng wanted. FA lost this one. FA caved on this one.

    Distance Education? Ratio? This was done weeks before the strike.

    Overload assignments? Chump change. This wasn't even MENTIONED in the FA statement on the strike.

    Sexual harrassment and conflict-of-interest policies to be side-bargained with the services of federal mediators and by next summer... Check (during strike) THIS IS THE ONE VICTORY--AND FA SHOULD BE ASHAMED. Both policies are awful should have been negotiated. Pat yourself on the back if you want, but I wouldn't brag about this one.

    So, no gain on furloughs, no gain on pay raise, no gain on RIF. Waste of time and money. FA lost.

    FA Statement before the strike:


    Cheng statement before the strike:


  45. Uh, Faculty at Work, you may want to take notice that there is no agreement yet, so to say that anyone has caved or failed, is a bit premature.

  46. Dear Lord -- breathe slowly into a paper bag, Jonny...

  47. @ Amelia 4:45 Again, I agree with you Amelia. I couldn't have said it better myself.

  48. If a union advocates for the advancement of its membership at the expense of other groups within the university community positive outcomes are made more difficult, or diminished completely as Peter is robbed to pay Paul.

    In many universities, the power of layered advocacy is being burned on the altar of seniority, mediocrity, everyone-is-excellent, no-one-can-fail, or other quality-killing concepts, ultimately including the sacrifice of intellectual freedom, the loss of precision of thought and execution of insight. The core purpose of the organization and the essence of higher education are bartered away.

  49. Faculty at Work:

    You are clearly working too hard and consequently your posts are misguided and incorrect, you really should take a rest from working, maybe take a break and join on us on the picket lines, you missed a beautiful sunny day today, ...., all work and no play makes Jack a dull Faculty Member, very dull............g'night, sleep tight

  50. No one can fix stupid. Let those FA fellows celebrate their ''big gains'' and great ''victory'' in SIUC history.

    "You can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time."

  51. Anon. 11.37 said:

    "No one can fix stupid. Let those FA fellows celebrate their ''big gains'' and great ''victory'' in SIUC history."

    Groan. I like Ron White well enough, but I grow increasingly nauseous every time I hear that phrase used that way. I am not in the union and disagree with the strike. But the faculty (our colleagues, if you are one of us) that I know that are striking are brilliant, creative, and passionate--none are stupid. You're not helping. Your comments are more appropriate for a FauxNews trollboard than here.

  52. Went from 30 day notice to no days:

    "xx.05.04. Notice of Layoff. Faculty shall be given employment for at least one academic year beyond the academic year in which she/he is given notice of layoff. The notice requirements of this Section shall not apply in cases of extreme and immediate financial exigency."

    Thanks, FA. Any definition of "immediate" or "extreme" FE? No? You just gave away all notification.

  53. Some people apparently don't understand what "negotiate" means. I blame the President (Obama, not Poshard). In a negotiation you ask for everything you want and settle for what you can live with. By those standards the FA is indeed negotiating successfully.

  54. FA is indeed ''negotiating successfully'' in FA leader's standard. I agree.
    However, the damage will never be recovered. Strike is a big mistake. Time will prove that.


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.