Friday, November 18, 2011

Help with the tentative agreement

We've put together a couple of documents to help people review the tentative agreement.  One is a prĂ©cis which summarizes changes since the last contract and ties them to bargaining objectives. The second is a version of the tentative agreement in which changes since the last agreement are highlighted.  Both are available over on the FA website's page on bargaining.


  1. Dave: Thanks for posting this! From all the anonymous carping going on since the strike ended, you would think that we made very little if any progress on negotiating a contract. What you have provided speaks for itself that this was a very good contract, one worth striking to achieve. And I look forward very much to celebrating that achievement tomorrow.

    Thanks again bargaining team!!

  2. I can't wait until this contract expires so we can strike again!

  3. And I can't wait to play history teacher again!

  4. I think any detailed comparison of the evolution of offers will aver that the FA made great strides in their negotiations, but that all of these gains were made by July, when the administration energetically sought to prevent the strife from entering another fiscal year.

    The FA declined to settle then, and the strike added nothing of consequence to what they had already gained; however, it cost the union its credibility and the university a good two or three hundred students (most estimates say between 500-1000).

    The IEA on the other hand, gained immeasurably: they successfully instigated the first strike of an institute of higher education in the state of Illinois.

    Lose / lose / win.

  5. I "think" you should make those claims with actual evidence, Anon 6:31. I was under the impression that the Chancellor and President claimed (falsely!) that there was no negotiation in the summer, so how they made such "energetic" concessions then is a conjectural mystery.

    The FA has provided the evidence of its gains from the strike -- there is no need to conjecture, I "think." But thanks for playing another round of speculative union bashing. It's so persuasive when you wear your bias blatantly on your sleeve.

  6. Re negotiation over the summer, lets set the record straight. It is not literally true that there were no negotiations over the summer. In fact the bargaining teams met a total of three or four times. Whoopee! The FA team was available for a few hours a month! Stop harping on the Chancellor's minor misstatement and explain why the FA team was not meeting with the BOT team regularly and frequently while they were unencumbered with teaching and other duties. The administration team was here and ready to meet. IMO opinion he decision to push towards a strike had already been taken, if not by the FA then by their IEA handlers.

  7. Both "only available for a few hours a month" and "the Chancellor's minor misstatement" are contestable assertions. I note that the Chancellor never corrected this error...indeed, the President went on to make the same "misstatement" several days later. Again, he made no correction to this repeated error, either. Neither you nor our Administration have set the record anything like straight.

    But nice try dodging the central issue. Again!

  8. Again, the Chancellor and President are pathological liars and it is time some of you recognized this.

  9. Anon 8:05

    Please list ten things Poshard lied about and then ten things Cheng lied about. Please back up each of the ten (20) with credible facts.

    Since both are "pathalogical liars" I assume you won't have any trouble.

  10. FA leaders want to run the university. However, comparing with Poshard and Cheng, some of FA leaders are far more "pathalogical liars".

    Anyway, if we let FA leaders to run the university, then the SIU will have no students very soon. All TT/T faculty will lose their jobs in a decade. Then the FA will complain Obama.

  11. I love union, But Not Always its leadership.
    The union leadership consists of craziest people and complain everything in this society. A poor man gets one dollar, he is very happy. While a union leader get one dollar, he would ask why you have money and he doesn't. Then he pull a gun and point to you. Buy life insurance before you give one dollar to your union leader.

  12. Oh! Don't worry. The gun is fake.

  13. Anon. 11:28, I'm not going to do your homework when you should have been following these discussions but I will give you two recent examples.

    1. Poshard's "business as usual" on campus when students obviously resented incompetent substitutes as was reported.

    2. The DE of November 10 when she stated that these students had signed petitions asking for their substitutes to continue but when asked to provide documentation refused to do so. This parallels her denial that the BOT walked out of union negotiations when they plainly did so.

  14. Anon 7:56, how ignorance your statement! To protect the students, of course, no one should release the petition since there will be a conflict between the original teacher and the substitute. It is not surprised that some of the substitutes are better teachers than the current instructors.
    Remember, some of them are retirees with many teaching experience.

  15. 7:56,

    Those are problems, I'll grant you that, but they were all created by the strike itself, problems better solved by communicating with the public (maybe a 1-day PR strike?) as well as better lobbying the Trustees and Springfield as well as reforming the Senate to include all constituencies as opposed to just the faculty.

  16. Anon 11:28,

    Please list ten things FA leader lied about and then ten things another FA leader lied about. Please back up each of the ten (20) with credible facts.

    Since all FA leaders are "pathalogical liars" I assume you won't have any trouble.

  17. I'm not going to do your homework when you should have been following these discussions but I will give you two recent examples.

    Anon 7:56,

    1. FA claims ''they don't care back pay", but they seriously asked for back pay;

    2. FA at beginning refused the raise, claimed "it would increase student's cost", but later on they took the offer with 30:0.

  18. Anon 11:28:

    I'm not sure it would be worth my time to point out every lie from the Chancellor, as people here seem intent on claiming every misstatement by the Chancellor is somehow out of her control or the fault of the FA or the strike and not her choices for which she bears responsibility -- e.g. claiming things will be "business as usual" during a strike and then not providing the promised "qualified substitutes" is somehow not a lie.

    Here's a pair contradictory statements that came long before the strike and even before the imposed terms, so it's harder to blame the FA for them.

    Summer 2010: Chancellor Cheng said administrators will do everything possible to avoid furloughs and layoffs and that the university would only do that if “we absolutely have to.”

    February 2011: Financial reports from FY2010 revealed a surplus. Rather than doing “everything possible” to absolutely avoid furloughs or to reduce the number of furlough days, the chancellor directed $2.8 million to non-mandatory reserve funds.

  19. As a Physics professor I would be appalled if there was a union for our faculty as it would be impossible to have the kind of inequities that make a research university run. And by the way - the teaching load in real research university physics departments is one course a semester. However, woe be it to the physics faculty member who does not get external funding in the hundreds of $thousands and does not publish several papers a year. They are shark bait. But there are plenty of physics faculty and physics faculty-wanna-bees who would favor a union because they know that in the current system they can't cut the mustard.

    Maybe the unions would want to deal with that pesky "peer-review" in grants and publications as well. It really is the source of so much inequity......

  20. There should be no unionization in any public sector job, full stop.

    The rationale behind unions is that due to the inherent difference in power between capital and labor, labor must organize in order to recieve a reasonable share of the economic proceeds of the firm--they extract profits from capital.

    There are no profits to extract in the public sector. All public sector unions do is extract additional taxes from society while decreasing the quantity and qualility of public sector services provided by a given level of taxation.

  21. I'll take the last two comments as indications that we've reached a wider audience. The first comes from someone evidently unfamiliar with our physics department, where most faculty belong to the FA. Last I knew, those faculty members did indeed believe in peer-reviewed publications.

    The second makes the prevalent broad-swipe attack against all public sector unions. It seems to me to assert that the only justification for labor unions is Marxist--a line of thought the commentator would not of course agree with in any setting. Anyone following the details of the recent strike here will know that whatever else the FA was doing, it wasn't making extraction of extra tax dollars a big priority.

  22. Perhaps there are `no profits to extract' in a university setting, but a university decides where to spend its money. At SIUC in recent years the admin + BOT have decided to spend enormous amounts of money on athletics, and not on teaching (including faculty salaries) and research...the two core ingredients of any good university. So, when discussing the public sector situation, one should replace the word `profit' with `money' to be more realistic.

  23. Anon 12.15am

    The Physics Dept at SIUC is a `real' research Dept, with many excellent researchers..just check out their webpage .... you might learn something.

    BTW I am not in Physics.

  24. The research at Physics Dept is going down very quickly recently. It is hard to say who is guilty to lead to current situation. Some personality confrontation lead to this outcome. A figure in FA should take some responsibility.

  25. I went through and read the contract line by line last night, with the highlighted changes in front of me. I am very impressed! This is a contract full of incremental progress on both small and large items, and one I feel confident about as a platform to improve further in the next years and decades to come.

    I hate to criticize, but one thing that definitely needs improvement on for two years from now (when we will be negotiating a new contract again) is better communication by the union of exactly (as much as can be practicable) where we are in negotiations at a given moment. There were attempts at this during our general membership meeting in September, but as I recall, the characterization was that hardly any significant progress had been made on the contract at that time except for changing "thes" into "ans" and so forth. When I look through the articles in the contract that were not under contention (e.g., articles not pertaining to FE, furloughs, workload, sexual harassment, conflict of interest policy, and salary), there was in fact a considerable amount of progress on the other issues. That message, so evident now in the amount of yellow ink on many of those articles, was not at all telegraphed at the time.

    Indeed, one of the reasons why I was asking such pointed questions back in early October on this website was because neither I nor other members were getting accurate information about where the bargaining was and, more importantly, whether any progress at all had been made. It seems that on the small issues a lot of progress had been made but on the larger issues none. (Indeed, it seems that it took either a strike threat or the third/fourth day of the strike itself before those larger issues started to become satisfactorily resolved). In early October, however, I had hoped that a) the BOT moved off of its unreasonable posture of 30 days on RIF and b) the FA on joint declaration and 4 consecutive years of bad audits.

    In retrospect, I should have realized that a lot of this was Kabuki theater. Still, consider that a lot of professors at this school, myself included, are relatively new here and did not have many (or in my case ANY) prior contract experience by which to judge what was transpiring. Also, more timely information on the union's end back in September and early October would have been better than what did occur instead, which was a nasty rumor-mill led to some considerable degree by anti-union voices on this blog and elsewhere.

    I mention these just as lessons to heed in the future should the BOT prove to be as intransigent as they were this contract round. Optimistically, I doubt they will be in the future - a generally successful faculty strike with student support, as had occurred between November 3 and 9th, gives me confidence in this.

    In sum, however, this seems to be a great contract, particularly in the economic and political climate that we find ourselves in at present.

  26. Anon 3:25,

    Transparency is required only for Admin, not for FA leadership. If you want to know all details, please run for the president of FA, a position you might be interested in.

  27. Are you presuming that all of the changes were proposed by the FA team. Remember that this was a bargained document so changes where proposed by both sides. Credit should go where it is due. If you like what you see, some of the credit belongs to the administration team as well.

  28. Joe Sramek,

    Hope you can develop a more critical thinking, not just follow the FA leader.
    Time will show that FA is not what you want if you are a serious researcher.

  29. While of course it is possible that SOME improvements in the contract were the result of the administration bargaining team, I somehow highly doubt this. The administration team, after all, from the get-go summarily rejected getting training in Interest-Based Bargaining. The chancellor was saying throughout the summer and early fall that she had no intention of undermining tenure but the Board team would not agree to FE language that protected the legitimate interests of faculty (until after the third day of a generally successful strike). No, it seems obvious to me that many of the good things in this contract were coughed up due to pressure the FA and its members put on the administration, either in the leadup to a strike authorization, in the two week window after the strike got authorized, or during the strike itself after the FA didn't blink the first 48 hours.

  30. I wonder, Professor Sramek, how much of your enthusiasm for the FA, the strike in general, and the "gains" in the contract result from the fact that you are (at least according to your posts) in your final pre-tenure year in a department that overwhelmingly supported the strike?

  31. Perplexed, if you knew Professor Sramek, you would not need to ask that question. By the way, are you up for tenure, and thus all of your anonymity here? Just using your own logic.

  32. Lets set the record straight on at least one issue. FA supporters chant "interest based bargaining" like a mantra, but it is completely clear that very VERY few have any real idea what that expression means. Joe Sramek's post above is an excellent example.

    For starters, it is impossible, Immmmmpossssible! for one side of a negotiation to practice interested based bargaining while the other side of is not. You can try, but unless the other side goes along with the methodology, it is not going to accomplish anything useful. Don't believe me? Try reading "Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In" (Fisher, Ury and Patton) It will cost you less than $10 + the time to read it. these author's are the ones who developed and initially researched the method. Also, read some of the reviews of the method, you will find that it has both supporters and detractors and it is certainly not universally accepted as an optimal or even effective bargaining process.

    Neither side in the recent negotiations between the FA and the BOT practiced anything remotely resembling "interest based bargaining" (the supposals presented by both sides are excellent examples of taking positions). The administration team did not even pretend that it would follow this technique because the previous negotiations did not follow the principles required either. Please try to make at least the minimal effort necessary to understand the concept before you misuse an expression you do not understand.

  33. Perplexed,

    You haven't been paying attention. Joe Sramek has been both critical of the FA and enthusiastic about it, depending on what the FA has done and on how the administration has acted.

  34. Anon 8:21, you seem to miss the point about IBB. I am very familiar with the method and not only have read "Getting to Yes" but have also taught it. Throughout the bargaining process, the FA received numerous criticisms (usually on this blog) that it was being unreasonable and unrealistic in its negotiation supposals. The "mantra" you reference is offered not because the FA imagines it was engaged in one sided IBB (as you note, not possible), but because the Admisnistration chose not to engage in or even entertain the idea of IBB. As often claimed here, they set the tone early on for the style of negotiation. And the FA demonstrated it could negotiate that way as well, although never dropping the argument that it had offered another, better way that was declined. And why should it drop this argument?

    The Chancellor claimed in one of her townhall meetings that she was unfamiliar with IBB and didn't know what it meant. I leave it to others to parse whether this is another lie of convenience or an admission of woeful ignorance. Given the stakes, one would think our leadership might take the time to inform themselves.

    Yes, it is true the IBB would likely not have solved all our difficulties. It is also true that IBB is not a zero-sum method -- that there are degrees to which both sides might have adopted it as a negotiation strategy. Throughout the negotiations all four union teams regularly reported that the Administration was not interested in creative problem solving. The Administration set the terms of what they wanted and largely named the only "compromises" they would accept. That is, until the actuality of the strike forced them to concede much to the other unions and eventually move in directions they originally said they absolutely could not with the FA.

    Yet again, the attempt to "set the record straight" has not done so and has offered little more than chiding and revisionist history.

  35. Jon Gray,

    First, I will ignore your accusation that I am engaging in “revisionism” and leave to others to draw their own conclusions on that matter. As others have suggested before, perhaps you might consider adopting a less confrontational style in your posts since debate is preferable to argument.

    My post related to yet another post about IBB by someone who clearly does not understand what it is, and what it is not. I am extremely pleased to hear that you have read “Getting to Yes”, I only wish that others would make a similar effort.

    FA supporters routinely criticize the BOT for not engaging in IBB, which you seem to suggest is a superior approach to bargaining. You are welcome to your opinion, of course, but your views on this are just that, an opinion, not inherently a fact. Maybe it is a better approach, maybe it is not (or perhaps more accurately, in some cases it is, in some cases it is not). But since the BOT were very clear that they were not familiar with IBB and would not engage in IBB, and since you acknowledge that one-sided IBB is not possible, you are, therefore, acknowledging that the FA could not and did not, use the approach either. Yet many FA supporters either imply that the FA team was still using the approach, which is not true because it was not possible (I will give an example in a moment), or suggest or imply that because the BOT team chose not to agree to IBB that they were somehow from the outset rejecting reasonable bargaining- which is simply not the case. IBB is a relatively new approach to bargaining and it is certainly not the only approach. Rejecting IBB was not in and of itself a rejection of bargaining, just a method of bargaining. The BOT made clear from the outset that they would not use that methodology. That is not a sin, as some like JS would seem to imply, it is just a choice.

    [Continued below....]

  36. Now, as one example of the type of confusion I am referring to: In a recent thread, Dave Johnson and I engaged in a discussion regarding the FA position on salaries. He argued that the Administration showed no interest in the FA's interest in linking salaries to the universities budget situation. Quite right! The BOT team was not engaging in IBB and had made it clear that they would not do so. The BOT team would respond to only those positions (presented in the form of supposals), that were presented to it, (and they certainly had no obligation to fix flaws in proposals to them by the FA team). The FA supposal on salaries was obviously and deeply flawed, as has been discussed here on this blog, and elsewhere, many times. Even FA supporters have acknowledged the flaws in that supposal. Yet it was not changed. Dave argued that the FA had no reason to change the supposal because the administration was not willing to negotiate on that interest anyway. But neither team was practicing IBB! The FA team knew that. EVERYBODY knew that (at least everybody who understands what IBB is knew that). The BOT did not reject the concept of linking salaries and the budget (as Dave suggests they did), because they were engaged in bargaining only on the proposal(s) that the FA put in front of them. Since the FA failed to present a workable or reasonable proposal that linked salaries to the budget, the administration (correctly in my view) rejected the FA supposal.

    The example I have cited above (which is just one of many) is a case where the FA's official spokesperson talks/posts as if the FA team was engaged in IBB – they were not. My point, which I stand by, is that many of the FAs supporters, both the reasonable and the rabid, wield the term IBB like a sword. Unfortunately as they flail around what they accomplish is to demonstrate that they do not understand the principles of IBB and certainly do not understand that in the negotiations that were going on, neither side was practicing IBB. You can (and do) suggest that the BOT SHOULD have used IBB, but that is a moot point since neither side in these negotiations used IBB. Would things have been different if they had? We will never know, because that did not occur.

  37. Hmmmm.... maybe we could all get the book "getting to yes" read it and start practicing so we can use it in our posts and get into the habit of interacting with colleagues and administration that way. Might be an additional way to create some minor cultural changes....


  38. Jonny "The “communication as culture” paradigm and culture-centered approaches to communication pedagogy."

    How do we use these approaches to our (the faculty) own change?


  39. Anonymous (2:01 PM):

    Are you confirming what the FA has been asserting for a long time, that the administration was not following the ground rules that they had agreed to at the beginning of bargaining?

  40. Paranoid,

    How on earth do you take that away from 2:01's post? The Admin said from the start it would not practice IBB. That fact is all that that post is about. Don't stretch it or twist it.

  41. Anonymous:

    Read the ground rules. If they said from the start that they would not agree to IBB, why do the ground rules say that they will follow the principles of IBB?

  42. Anon 2:01

    I believe the core of your critique of Joe, Dave, me and now Paranoid may be based in part on an equivocation of "interest" with "interest based bargaining" (IBB). Whenever folks articulate an interest that is foundational to a position they take, they are not claiming to be engaged in interest based bargaining. Likewise, the tied-to-revenue salary-increase supposal was not, by itself, IBB. It was an alternative to what the Administration wanted to offer, and it was an attempt by the FA to engage in "out of the box" thinking about pay raises. That is, a bid for creative problem-solving. It may also have been a ploy to reveal what the Administration did not want to admit about its own interests re: pay raises and revenues. And of course, it was also a place-holder -- the FA stated quite clearly that there was no point in negotiating salary until the question of how and when furloughs can be imposed was addressed.

    IBB, though, is a method of negotiation (related to the Harvard Negotiation Project and sometimes called "integrative bargaining," "win-win bargaining," and "process bargaining"). It is method of negotiation that requires both (all) parties to enter into it knowingly, often with shared training in the process. While the ground rules for our recent negotiation (the document linked above by Paranoid) does emphasize some of IBB's tenets (especially privileging interests over positions), that document does not detail or stipulate IBB, per se.

    Your point about whether IBB was appropriate here is certainly debatable. This particular web site includes conditions under which IBB might be favorable:

    1) Sharing relevant information is critical for effective solutions.
    2) Focus on issues, not personalities.
    3) Focus on the present and future, not the past.
    4) Focus on the interests underlying the issues.
    5) Focus on mutual interests, and helping to satisfy the other party’s interests as well as your own.
    6) Options developed to satisfy those interests should be evaluated by objective criteria, rather than power or leverage.


    Most of these conditions could have reasonably been met at the beginning of the negotiation. Some of them (#2 and #3, especially) would have aided the Administration quite a lot. Of course, the FA would have needed a bit more of #1, too. However, given that the Administration did not wish to participate in IBB and following the great furlough debacle, it is doubtful that IBB would be an option for at least half of those nearly 500 days of post-contract negotiation. I remain hopeful that it is something we will return to for the next contract (and yes, that is an argument for keeping the current administration).

    Again, I return to what has been the unions' (plural!) mantra re: IBB in this last collective bargaining cycle. The Administration refused this negotiation method from the beginning, choosing to express ignorance of rather than doubt in its methods (the Administration has, to my knowledge, never offered any of the critiques of IBB in justifying this decision). All four unions reported that the BOT teams were unwilling to engage in creative problem solving.

    Given the economic reality of this state (and really, the world), I think it is amazingly short-sighted to seek to impose terms rather than to use local resources to come up with better and more sustainable solutions to the shifting terrain. It is sad to me to see this university continue the trend of being top-heavy and so rigidly top-down in its management.

  43. Kim--

    Re: "How do we use these approaches to our (the faculty) own change?"

    I think we are doing it now. Or, as Madge the Palmolive Pedicurist says, "You're soaking in it."

    The paradigm I reference simply notes (in a non-disciplinary-specific way) that communication is not merely referential. Cultures do not preexist and simply use communication to share preformed values and ideas. Rather, communication is culture -- it is how cultures create (refresh, renew, change, stabilize, etc.) themselves.

    Communication Pedagogy is both how we teach communication (teaching, itself, profoundly an act of communication) and also how we reflect on our communication and how that shapes us. The messy Venn diagram of communication, culture and pedagogy is sort of, well, the point.

    We have been doing our culture here all along, whether striking or refusing to strike, whether administering or teaching or researching or learning. We do it on this blog with our comments, including our choice to comment at all and our choices of how we do and do not identify ourselves.

    We do it collaboratively, whether by means of cooperation or dialectic tension. Both are valuable.

    And we do it both purposefully and unintentionally, from the most profound utterances to the most mundane.


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.