Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hi Ho, Hi Ho

I am up early and off to a committee meeting (The Sustainability Council).  I would prefer to hibernate or just go in to teach today, but I take my work very seriously and I know it extends well beyond the classroom.

After the break, I'll offer a few post-strike observations.  I am sure the days and weeks to come will provide continued opportunities to hash and rehash what we did or didn't accomplish with this labor action.  I have no illusions that our most fervent critics will ever grant us any accomplishments.  Nonetheless, I return to my regular work both weary and energized -- and I know I am not alone.

First, let me clear something up:  I did not expect to be paid for the days I was on strike, although I knew it was something to negotiate in a back to work agreement.  My union did not mislead me on this point.  That said, I don't think I have ever worked harder for this University than I did in the last week.  I taught on that picket line, literally and metaphorically.  And I put into practice much of what I teach and research.  I still believe if anyone needs to be disciplined for this strike, it is an Administration that let it happened, that continues to act like it was no big deal.

At union headquarters last night, we entertained briefly the idea that we might drop the Unfair Labor Practices appeal from last spring in return for the Administration not docking our pay.  As some have pointed out here, there are no assurances we will win that appeal, although given how hard the BOT team fought to make us give it up, I think we can see their (lack of) confidence in their position.  In the end, for several reasons, we decided not to go that route.  Doing so would throw our non-union and non-striking colleagues under the proverbial bus.  And last spring's ULP is less about getting those furlough dollars back than setting a precedent of limits on how easily the Administration can impose such terms.  Yet again, we chose the principle of shared governance, putting checks on Administrative power-grabs, and the good of the entire bargaining unit (the entire campus!)  over our own, individual financial concerns.  Yet again, we prove that we are not greedy and selfish, but principled and concerned for the integrity of the entire system.

The Administration continues to offer our ability to strike as the accountability factor in checking their decisions.  Their language in the back to work agreement seems strategically intent on making sure that mechanism of accountability is rarely (if ever) deployed -- in effect, that they suffer no accountability for their future actions.  They continue to downplay the effect of the strike and treat it as a numbers game played with crafty and disingenuous accounting.  But they and the community know that the strike was more than disruptive and that it was not "business as usual" on this campus for the past week.  Everyone one knows that in almost every case the Chancellor was unable to put qualified substitute instructors in the empty classrooms, and in far too many cases there were no substitute instructors in the classrooms.  I don't think the Administration will ever so cavalierly play a game of chicken with a strike again.

The Administration spent quite a lot of treasure trying to bust the unions in the past two years; it is an investment that bore no fruit.  The unions emerge from this strike stronger than ever and unlikely to go away any time soon.  We currently have (to all intents and purposes) a referendum on the FA circulating in the form of the FSN's petition.  Maybe, if they can get something like 15% more of us to sign those cards, it will go to a vote.  That gives a very vocal minority who would prefer no negotiation and nothing like collective bargaining a strong incentive to downplay the FA's accomplishments with this strike; likewise the anonymous administrators who like to comment here.  Consider their arguments, but know their motives.  Do the side-by-side comparison of where we were with a contract a month ago, a week ago, and now and make your own assessment.  I, for one (for many!), cannot fathom how anyone would prefer those contracts to what we ended up with.

But maybe the best result of the strike is not in clauses and provisions, but in the intangibles.  We've seen the lengths the Administration is willing to go to to centralize and cling to power.  We've seen its heavy hand censoring community voices and telling, as one active GAU member put it yesterday, repeated "lies of convenience."  We've seen material evidence of its pettiness and petulance.  And we've seen a community across the campus come together, stand up to its "leadership" and demand better.  We've seen where so many in the community place their trust, and it is not with the Administration.


  1. Well...before you get too high on your horse:

    We need to see what was on the table before the strike and what's in the agreement the FA will eventually sign.

    My guess is there is very little difference. The more rabid amoung you will figure out a way to twist words and make the inconsequential somehow seem monumental. That's a given.

    But if you honest with yourself...and somehow I suspect some of you just don't have the ability to do true before and after analysis will be the proof in the pudding.

    Did the FA put this university through something that didn't need to happen in order to please its IEA handlers?

  2. Let's see: Wednesday night we had a circular definition of FE and no accountability or transparency over the BOT. Colleagues of mine who honored our picket line nevertheless predicted we would never achieve either.

    Instead, we got full AAUP definition of FE and rights of preconsultation (transparency) and the right to strike over false declaration of it (accountability). In return, the BOT has sole declaration rights - something in the end I always believed the union was going to cede in exchange for better protections in the definition and accountability angles.

    Workload compensation is major. While Dean Vaux always managed to authorize paying me a full 1.0 month to teach a summer course in my department, I always worried a little that that would not be the case. Instead this summer the August sum for the overload was significantly lower than the September sum, leading me originally to think that I was going to get jipped compared to what I had been accustomed to believing was my right to receive for the course. Now, a flat 1.0 month is contractualized. I see that as a big win.

    26:1 was a big win for our students, but that was in the works a few weeks ago. Still, I think the threat of a strike date led them to cough that one up.

    And we removed the insulting language of the back-to-work proposal of Monday night.

    It is true that we are liable to furloughs in FY 13 and FY 14 and that back to work is not wholly ideal, but other than those two, I see this is a great victory.

    So, so sorry to be interrupting anonymous administrators in their efforts at spinning this as a big ado about nothing!

  3. "Did the FA put this university through something that didn't need to happen in order to please its IEA handlers?"

    Who walked out on talks last Wednesday? Who would not meet for three and a half days? I've been critical of people here who refer to FA critics as lackeys or stooges, but you really take the cake.

  4. Mike,

    If the FA can let me alone, I can get a better cake by myself along with those productive colleagues. Can FA do that?

  5. Unions DID serve an essential role when they first started. However, the Industrial Revolution is over now and there are regulations set on any industry. Unions now create, or rather protect lazy workers.

    Plus, companies don't fail because of unions, they just create worse products/services.

    Let us look at teachers specifically in NYC public schools. Teachers get tenure, even if they, as my kids say, "suck." My children are doing much better at a private school. Their grades are up, their teachers care about their students, and most importantly, THEY ARE LEARNING!. This, some may say, has to do with money allotted to the school. I say it has nothing to do with that. Why?.. Simple:

    During a PTA meeting, my daughter's English teacher had no idea who my girl was? When I asked why she received such low grades, she gave me one essay that she wrote and said she did poorly on it. And I asked what about other assignments. There were no other assignments. Little did I know, they read two books in class and that's it. I am not saying all teachers are like this, but unions protect lazy money grabbing people quite often. Not only that, unions are always lobbying in Washington to get more money to do nothing.

    However, we should not bypass the fact that unions at some point, did protect workers from "evil" companies. However, it seems that now, once in the political scene, they have completely forgotten what their origin job was.

  6. Good luck trying Anonymous 9:24. Colleagues of mine in history who came years before the union got established here came in under salary offers that were well below the national norms for R1 schools in my field. As far as FTEs go, we are the most productive department in our entire college. Almost all of my colleagues, also, are active researchers and the number of books we have collectively written is impressive (and one of the reasons I chose to come here).

    Four year ago, by contrast, I was offered a competitive national salary. I immediately saw that this was the result of a strong union here, and I expressed my gratitude by joining right away. We could use members like yourself to fight for an even better contract for you, to fight for your particular needs as a research scholar at an R1 institution. But we suffer if we do not join together. As the poster outside my office says: "United we bargain, divided we beg!"

  7. If the actions of the past week have demonstrated anything: it is the need for collective solidarity against attempts by administrators to bully workers. I felt very vulnerable Thursday morning, but was buoyed immediately by the presence of GAUs, AsCEs, and NTTs on my picket line. And then hundreds of students came and joined me. Every day a few of my students sought me out on the line.

    It was moreover amazing because faculty are typically compared to cats... and yet we managed to herd some cats to join together to fight for their collective interests.

  8. A simple calculation. Our union due is about $750/yr.
    Then $750x 30 years left to retirement = $22, 500.

    In this time period you could do these things:
    1 kid Associate Degree for lifetime

    10,000 for College

    Prescription deductibles every year for the family

    400.00 x 30 years =12000

    Co-payment for my annual physical exam

    $500 for a lasting 30 year period

    ALL THIS EQUALS = $22,500.00

    or just look at this.

    $22500.00 x 220 employees for 30 years till retirement


    Thus the IEA is getting rich not us.

  9. I believe some people are missing a couple of crucial points that no one talks about but have been mentioned in some of the reply's here - unions are a business and need to make money for the Union! Why do you think they are currently lobbying Congress so hard to make it easier to get unions into places that they have traditionally been kept out of, like Toyota or Honda?

    Also, if unions really are so great for the people, where have they been for those who are laid off? Are they helping you make a house payment before the bank forecloses? After all, you were a loyal union member who paid your dues for protecting you from the evil management of your company, but where are they now that you are unemployed because the company could no longer afford to keep you? That's right - they are gone. Know why? Because you no longer are paying into the union coffers. They DO NOT CARE about YOU as an individual, they only care about you while there is a paycheck they can draw dues from.

    Wake up!

    Unions are an out-dated item that is destroying America in the Global economy - one that we cannot avoid and business MUST compete with, like it or not.

    If you believe differently, consider how GM, Chrysler, etc...offer employees discounts on vehicles that no one else gets. That's not a perk, its a slap in the face to non-union consumers. And you wonder why Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, and other foreign makes are doing so well.

  10. This may not be the best place to post this, but I just wanted everyone to be aware that the students are organizing a "Celebration Parade" today at 4:30 starting at Anthony Hall.

    I'm not sure if I have the energy to march with them, but I'm planning to go and say thank you to as many people as I can!

  11. 9:24 AM,

    Get a competing offer and show it to your dean. That's what it took to get an extra raise before the FA and that can still be done now. Go for it.

  12. @Wake up!

    Have you noticed that the people who study history are not anti-union? Unions play different roles at different times and in different industries. Like churches or corporations most do a lot of good and a few are corrupt.

  13. Let me just comment briefly (as I contemplate starting the transition back from spokesperson Dave to blogger Dave) on the issue of "IEA Handlers".

    When the DRC debated whether to end the strike, there was exactly one IEA guy in the room, and he sat off in a corner and said nothing--he'd helped us with media relations, and was at that meeting simply to observe things. The meeting consisted mainly of a presentation of the pluses and minuses of the board's last proposal, followed by questions, often pointed, and answers from our bargaining team. I'm not going to go into the details here, though Jonny has already shared one debate. But the bargaining team's list of good things in the proposal was considerably longer than their list of bad things in it.

    The IEA people were here to help us with infrastructure (enabling us to rent one strike HQ, and then when that one turned out to be something of a disaster, getting us another one), advice, and legal support. I worked most closely with an IEA media advisor, who had come down a couple of times before the strike, and then was here for the duration. Let me transparently tell you what he did. He'd offer advice and ideas, and give us reaction to ideas we came up on our own. He was always very clear that he was simply offering advice--and sometimes we'd follow it, sometimes we wouldn't. More often he was a sounding board for our own ideas, helping us to tweak things for the better. On occasion he'd draft a statement for us--but longer term readers of this blog will not be surprised to read that I usually completely revised every sketch he gave us. And often, in a rush to get out statements in a timely way, I was simply speaking off the cuff, as I did last night. The IEA people have been through strikes before; they know how to help local unions get through strikes. They believe that strikes are sometimes necessary. But, at least in my experience, they don't tell locals when to strike. They don't tell locals when to stop striking. They don't pull strings. Whatever else you may think of the FA, we aren't puppets.

    We made every decision that led up to this strike and every decision during the strike, including the decision to end it. We were no more puppets of the IEA than the administration was a puppet of their outside legal counsel (though as a taxpayer you helped pay their legal counsel, while only dues-paying members paid for our IEA support). Judge us, and the administration, by our actions leading up to and during the strike. Directing fire toward outsiders is irrelevant.

  14. Mike said:

    "Get a competing offer and show it to your dean. That's what it took to get an extra raise before the FA and that can still be done now. Go for it."

    That's true, but I can't help but find that process to be completely distasteful, disingenuous, and mercenary. There needs to be other ways for the administration to reward merit that don't require having to send our (ostensibly) best faculty out soliciting for offer letters that either (a) they have no intention of considering (making the whole thing a giant kabuki-theater waste of time for everyone--including the other institution that's being duped); or (worse) (b) that they *will* consider--working to push out the very faculty that SIUC should want to keep the most. Even though I am sure I could benefit handsomely from such an approach, I haven't quite worked myself up to the level of dishonesty needed to believably pull it off (and I don't think I want to).

  15. Thank you beezer. As a fifth-year member of my faculty, with a published book as of two months ago, I am looking forward to going up for tenure and associate and getting either $600 or 12% increase, whichever is greater, added to my base monthly salary. I have heard horror stories of $250 or even lower being the norm in CoLA when there was not a union here. Indeed, I have heard it was arbitrary and capricious and depended entirely on your personal relationship with your dean - not conducive at all to fostering shared governance within the college or the university as a whole.

  16. Dave Johnson said: "We made every decision that led up to this strike and every decision during the strike, including the decision to end it. "

    Why the leadership of FA is reluctant to let all faculty to vote if the Admin offer is acceptable before going to strike? As someone says here " They DO NOT CARE about YOU as an individual, they only care about you while there is a paycheck they can draw dues from". Is that right?

  17. To the following posters,

    Jonny Gray 7:15 AM
    Dani 10:02 AM
    Dave Johnson 10:36 AM

    Thank you.

  18. Also to beezer 10:47 and Joe Sramek 11:10, I agree wholeheartedly.

  19.'ve reported here in the past that the vast majority of union dues paid by each FA member goes to the IEA. Something like better than 90%.

    And now you're here telling us that the IEA did very little for you.


  20. For all those interested, I returned to work early this morning to get email access returned and reply to students who contacted me. My whole policy was to keep a low profile and say nothing, especially to those faculty who did not go on strike. Ten minutes ago, a certain eminent member of a particular unit in my department chose to make not one, but two sarcastic and derogatory comments at me. I ignored the first and responded politely. But he did not leave it at that but came back with another so I told him what I thought of him using a term that fitted his actions during this time. I'm now posting this to put on record that we can now expect provocation from the opposition as opposed to the administration's idea that we are supposedly going to retaliate against those who chose not to go on strike.

  21. Anon 12:23

    As long you and your union brethern continue to promote an "us" vs. "them" mentality nothing is going to change.

    No matter how else you want to spin it, union rhetoric and all, the fact remains that a small minority of employees walked off the job and turned the campus upside down. Yeah, yeah, it's the administration's fault. Sure thing, buddy. But you and others made a choice. I'm afraid its something you're going to have to live with. Being in the minority sucks. You're not going to be looked on with much favor and anyone other than in your very small group.
    The fat is in the's time to face the facts. But you can take solace in the fact that the union won you some big concessions. Right?

  22. beezer,

    I agree with you. Let's think about ways that might be done in the next contract. Merit pay can address that to a degree. One thing I have thought about is a bonus system for outstanding achievement. We have this with the Outstanding Scholar awards, but very few people get those and you have to apply for it which is time consuming. It is also unfair since there is one award per college but COLA is much bigger than the others. Perhaps each dean could get a pot of money for bonuses and the dean and college personnel committee could dole it out.

  23. I taught my first class. I talked a little bit about the strike. I told them that they had a right to their own views and that if anyone should write a letter to the DE critical of the FA I would not discriminate against them is any way.

    I told them I owed them 4 hours of lecture time and 6 hours of office hours. I added 3 hours of office hours per week for the rest of the term. I passed around a sheet to see if I can find times to give make up lectures. I may add some optional review sessions. I have heard nothing from the people who covered my class. You'd think they would contact me a let me know what they were able to cover. I am starting from where I left off.

    I did apologize to the students for the inconvenience, but I also told them that in a free and open society we sometimes have to put up with noisy demonstrators and strikes. Overall societies that tolerate dissent and protest are preferable to places like North Korea, where they have no strikes and I assume the trains and classes always run on time. But I suspect some of them do disagree with the FA's decisions and I respect their right to do so.

  24. Joe: I suppose it's an interesting book, but, wow, what a price (even with discount) to read about race and gender in 17th-18th century colonial India!!!

  25. To Mike:

    Yes, there needs to be something, even though I know that merit can be difficult to define sometimes, harder to quantify in others, and even harder to make its interpretation seem universally fair and transparent. But it would be worth the concerted effort (not for my own imagined hypothetical personal gain, but to incentivize and reward creativity and productivity for all (be it in the lab, the studio, the field, the classroom, or what have you)).

    Re: Outstanding Scholar awards, aren't those just parking places anymore? :-) Yes, you could imagine more awards more equitably distributed somehow. But that's just one thing. I think part of everyone's possible raises in the future should reflect (somehow) the person's productivity / creative effort. I know it's easy for me to say that working in a field where "productivity" is (rightly or wrongly) pretty easy to quantify (e.g. papers published, grant $$ brought in, grants applied for, grants gotten, presentations made, students graduated, patents, etc.) but each field must have its own "figures of merit" (that a unit should be able to define for itself, or even solicit input from like departments elsewhere). Also, you could imagine teaching merit being rewarded too (maybe credit hours generated, majors recruited, teaching evaluations (perhaps renormalized by GPA and assessment scores somehow), peer evaluations, the development and implementation of innovative teaching approaches (particularly those that lead to improved retention, etc.)--there are a lot of things. Hell, even great service effort shouldn't automatically be beyond consideration for merit.

    Re: Joe's comments about previous "rewards" for T/P--Yikes. It's hard for me to relate to that (things seem pretty by the numbers here, at least that's been my experience so far). I admit that perhaps it would be hard for even the most fervant anti-unionite (which I'm not) to begrudge the T/P gains made in the last contract.

  26. Thankfully, in a free and open society, the students can tell you to take a hike when you ask them to "make up" four hours that you didn't teach.

  27. 1:49 PM,

    Actually I did quite a lot hiking this past week! ;-)

  28. 1:49 PM here,

    That's a response I can get behind :-)! Part of moving forward is being able to take a more lighthearted approach to things, in order to diffuse some the the tension that's been built up.

    Very good answer!

  29. Back to the IEA issue, quickly (I promise). There's a distinction between helping and pulling strings. The IEA helped and enabled us: it didn't treat us like puppets. We couldn't have pulled off a strike without IEA help. And we couldn't have negotiated contracts without a strike, as we've done without a strike every time before this one, without IEA support. I am quite satisfied with the help the IEA provided.

    Unions rise or fall on the strength of their membership. Raw numbers are part of the story, and, yes, of course the union would be stronger if more elected to pay dues and get active. But this union gained tremendous strength from the commitment and ability of its most active members, which included not only those in formal leadership positions but those who stepped up to lead the many mundane efforts that needed to be done to support a strike. The IEA did not and should not come in a take over and do everything for us.

  30. Anon 11:54 said:

    "'ve reported here in the past that the vast majority of union dues paid by each FA member goes to the IEA. Something like better than 90%.

    And now you're here telling us that the IEA did very little for you. Huh?"

    Yes, that's been my concern all along about the IEA. I never understood the criticism that the IEA was pulling strings and controlling the FA leadership. I think the FA leadership did exactly what it thought its (ahem, somewhat narrowly focused) paying members wanted. However, I really don't think the IEA was needed for any of this (like the strike or not). They don't really have a natural synergy with our type of structure or concerns (e.g. I'll go out on a limb and say that merit pay is probably not cracking their top 100 concerns about now), and they have their own agenda (e.g. more dues for the sake of more dues).

    For those that believe in union representation, which is better: (1) a smaller, more homogeneous membership with high (prohibitive?), fixed costs for participation (albeit with a slightly more polished approach to opposition, logistics, and the press); or (2) union representation that might be a little more rough around the edges, but because of its low (and proportional?) costs and more inclusive nature, leads to majority membership and participation of the faculty as a whole?

  31. The IEA paid for the strike headquarters building rental and there is the building in Carterville that is always available. The legal knowledge that they have is indispensable. The biggest advantage is the connection with the other three IEA unions.

    But a discussion about the pros and cons of the NEA/IEA vs AAUP vs local only is certainly legitimate.

    It would be interesting to hear from someone who was involved with the effort to organize an AAUP chapter here before we got the FA.

  32. The FA will not like it but the faculty, the entire faculty, will need in the next few weeks and months to review what we (collectively) want in terms of collective bargaining.

    I know FA supporters are going to claim that this was worth it etc etc, ( I wonder if they will still feel as strongly when pay checks start to be issued this month) but the fact remains that the FA a minority organization and that that organization has turned this campus upside down for the last week. And the fall out from this week is likely to be felt in many ways for a very, very long time.

    "Actions have consequences" and the FA is not immune to the truth of that statement. It is appropriate and legitimate to ask if the actions of this group really are representative, especially given the low level (~20%) of actual participation and particularly the highly uneven support for the strike in different units and departments.

    I agree with those that have posted predictions of fall out in terms of declining enrollment. I think that that is highly likely, although it is impossible to predict at this point how sharp those losses will be. If those declines eventuate and are severe, then the resulting loss of revenues may well lead to people, particularly NTT and CS staff, losing their positions.

    Although it is clear even now that those that want to preserve the FA will object to even asking the question, IMO it is appropriate to ask what if any consequences there should be for the FA as an organization and for its leadership, as a result of the actions that have occurred and the damage that has been done to the reputation of the faculty and the institution in which we must all share. This debate may not be pleasant and it will certainly not be universally welcome I am sure, but IMO it is essential, and it needs to begin soon.

  33. As promised on an earlier thread, I'm reporting back on discussions I have had with Mike Eichholz of the FSN on why the possibility of an AAUP collective bargaining chapter is not under discussion in their effort. I will not copy the entire exchange of emails that I have had with him here, but I am working to have those posted somewhere for anyone who would like to read them in their entirety. (Please note, too, that Mike explicitly gave me permission to share his emails.)

    I asked, "Mike, can you tell me why the FSN has not made an AAUP Bargaining Chapter the other alternative for representation, instead of trying to create some new entity out of the Faculty Senate?"

    His answer to that query was, "We considered the AAUP as an alternative, but our perception is a big part of the problem with the FA is the outside influence of the IEA/NEA; thus, we decided if we were going to support a collective bargaining agent we preferred one that had no outside affiliation."

    Mike then reassured me that, supposing that the petition and election were successful, one option would be to affiliate with the AAUP once the new organization was authorized and discussions could be held. Referring to the representation cards we have been asked to sign (and which indicate support for a Faculty Senate-derived representative body that doesn't actually exist yet), I then responded: "Mike, with all respect, I hope you will understand why saying something along the lines of "Trust us, it doesn't actually mean what it says, and it can all be worked out later" is not a satisfactory response. In particular, your comment that "we decided if we were going to support a collective bargaining agent we preferred one that had no outside affiliation" confirms exactly what I believe many faculty fear: that the core group in FSN already has a firm commitment to a particular course, and will use the results to endorse that. The fact that you are promulgating a "push poll" in which faculty members who want to vote on alternative representation are being asked to endorse a specific model for that alternative feeds that sense. I am unwilling to put my name to something that, while it claims to simply affirm my wish for the freedom for faculty to make another of a wide range of choices, can actually be used to argue that I (and others) supported your Faculty Senate option."

    Among other interesting bits of information that I gleaned this morning (and that have been confirmed by the same person at the IELRB with whom Mike has been speaking), the window on the FSN's current effort is closing quickly. As soon as a new contract is signed, the next opportunity for a petition for representation will be during January through March of 2014.

  34. 2:26 PM,

    Can you explain why the BOT team went on strike from bargaining for three and a half days? What should the consequences of that decision be? Will the BOT team members get paid for those days?

  35. In Flanders fields the poppies grow,
    Between the crosses, row on row…
    Profuse they flower upon the ground
    where once a war was fought.
    But the blooms are only dressing
    on the wounds that battle wrought.

    The battle’s pain is surely past,
    The guns have ceased to bark at last…
    Though blood is staunched, the scars ache still
    where men their forts emplaced.
    And naught will grow ‘cept poppies now,
    where men their homes laid waste.

    Still today, a century past,
    The mines they sapped still tear apart…
    Below bloom’s root lies land still rent
    by blood and gore and steel.
    In the rock beneath the graves still lie
    the wounds that will not heal.

    Our battle has now ceased as well,
    How deep the wounds we cannot tell…
    And our fate too is writ in stone
    Our choices made and cast.
    The wounds we struck are open still
    But the scars we’ve made will last.

  36. To: An AAUP Option?

    I don't think it is fair to call the card-campaign a "push poll" for a number of reasons. First off, from the FSN-ers I've talked to, there is hardly a uniform idea about what the next step of representation "should" be (many opinions, not one). Perhaps you could say that they would desire an outcome that is "not FA" but while some could be ok with collective representation (under a spectrum of possiblities), I get the feeling that others don't want any at all.

    But what difference does it make? Their individual motivations don't interest me so much as what the outcome of the card campaign would achieve -- which is to force a vote amongst the full faculty regarding the nature of our future representation.

    Also, don't forget: from what I understand, the way they are doing the card campaign (e.g. what appears on the card) is basically what's required by law. Petitioners have to say they are for some other "thing" just to initiate the vote process. Dumb, I know, but whatchagonna-do.

    Yes, I think the time window is closing that will allow the needed vote to occur. So as they say, "get those signed cards in!" ;-)

  37. Anon. 12:54. The action was entirely unprovoked. I'm keeping it in house at the moment but several people know who the offender is. My door was open so students could come in to see me. If this person again "acts like a jerk" he will be treated like one. I'm using a politer term but I'm serving notice on you and anybody like him. The purpose of returning to work today was not to provoke and incident. This was done by a scab and he acted like the selfish, uncaring anti-union faculty who are quite willing to see this university go down the toilet as long as they can curry favor with Rita.

  38. Anon. 3:26 -- Obviously his behavior is totally unacceptable, and your anger is understandable. Are you sure the scab talk is helpful? And I know many anti-union (or at least, non-aligned in some way) faculty, and not one is "uncaring", not one "wants to see the university go down the toilet" and in fact they work tirelessly in the opposite direction, and none (to my knowledge) live to "curry favor" with "rita". I'm sorry that happened though.

  39. 3:26. Comments like that don't engender much sympathy.

    Looks like Thomas the Rhymer is right

  40. Anonymous 1:45 Yeah, sigh, it is. Morris Library, though, is in the process of ordering a copy.

    Thanks for the encouraging statement!


    Joe Sramek

  41. Let's all start the healing process. I had a nice friendly conversation with my colleague Jon Bean today - I supported the strike, he did not, but there's no reason at all why we cannot resume being friendly colleagues toward each other.

    Heck, even if Todd Winters wants to extend the olive branch, I would not refuse the entreaty. We do have to move on somehow from this.

  42. It is way too soon for either side or sides to declare victory. Simply looking at the language of the new contract will not be enough to evaluate the winners and losers and the costs and benefits of the strike and its aftermath. There are many other issues to consider, the meaning of which may not be known for weeks, months, or maybe longer. This includes the nature of our relations with the administration, our relations with one another, our relations with our students, their relations with administration, and so on. Another issue is enrollment, which may take a hit, as some observers have suggested, or may not. The same with retention. The strike and its aftermath may also affect faculty recruitment.

    As for me, my path forward will not be easy. I have to navigate a number of potentially tense situations. I’m friends with several major players in the union as well as several major players in the effort to decertify the union. I’m also a member of the college with the largest number of strikers and the largest number of non-strikers. And in my 9 person department, I was 1 of 3 faculty that did not go on strike (Like most faculty here, I have issues with the administration, but none of those were at the forefront of the contract dispute. And when the FA continued striking after the concessions the administration made on Monday, I decided the strike and the FA was not worth my time or energy). I’m sure many of you are in a similar position in terms of dealing with colleagues and friends on campus.

    If anything, the issues leading up to the strike, the controversy surrounding it, and the strike itself, have only reaffirmed my belief that agreeing to work here was a major mistake on my part. (Before coming here, I had a tenured position at a second tier state university in small southern state. I thought that SIUC, as a Research I, would be a step up. I liked the idea that Carbondale was a shorter trip to Chicago, where my family live. And I attended SIUC as an undergraduate, so I relished the idea of returning to the place that launched my early intellectual development and giving back to it. Of course, when I was an undergraduate, there were 5,000 more students. Carbondale was still a vibrant place to be. And the university was still able to attract a fair number of students from the best high schools in the state, specifically the Northern and Western suburbs of Chicago. Now, student enrollment has dipped below 20,000, thanks in large part to the decision to quash the university’s image as a party school, which was the “SIUC brand” – and a good one -- for many years. Carbondale is dying a slow death – e.g., the strip is no longer a strip but rather a bunch of vacant spaces, abandoned buildings, and mostly failing businesses with a few exceptions. And the university receives fewer students from the good high schools and more from the bad ones than it once did). The university, as it stands now, is a mess, one that will not resolve itself in the near future.

  43. Regarding the IEA, and from the perspective of an NTT, I think that some of the discussions here reflect a dramatic misunderstanding of the realities involved, and the character and skills of our IEA representatives. As someone who was involved in bargaining our first contract, and who has had weekly or even daily contact with our IEA rep to this day, I can attest to the quality and dedication of his work.

    First let's take on the myth that Jim Clark and the IEA tells the leadership what to do. Actually, the opposite is true. Goals, strategies, policies, and methods flow from the leadership of the respective locals. The IEA rep. has no role in that, other than offering advice when he thinks an action or strategy might be unwise. In my experience Jim Clark has almost invariably been spot-on in his advice. Do the locals always take his advice? No. As NTTs we quickly learned that we didn't know what we were doing, (though we were sure we did). Why? Because we were all smart individuals, confident, and thought we knew the answers. We were wrong. We weren't that smart or wise, and we didn't know how to bargain, and we didn't know labor law. With that said, we got smarter, better organized, bargained and strategized better, gained expertise and confidence, and last Thursday achieved a decent TA'd CBA in an adverse environment. In our biggest challenge, the layoff of the 93 last December, we hung together and didn't criticize our leadership or talk about a decertification. We hung tough, called Cheng's bluff and we won.

    Based on what I know about our IEA rep. let me offer the following informed speculation about FA bargaining and the role Jim Clark played. He probably told the FA leadership the following: 1.) a strike would be very risky and there would probably not be a majority who would walk out, 2.) that they were asking for too much in wanting to erode management rights, i.e., surrender of control over FE declarations, 3.) that they should have settled within 24 hours of the start of mediation or expect diminishing returns, 4.) not to try to bargain sexual harassment policy because that could be done outside of a CBA, 5.) that some form of furlough was going to have to be included regardless of the NTT's deal, and 6.) that they risk creating a long-term fracture among T/TT faculty. I could go on at length, but Clark’s job is not to agitate, but to instead be a reality check.

    If you would like to lay blame (which I think you should refrain from doing) then blame the FA leadership, but also, and more importantly, blame yourself if you are not a member, or if you are a member but one who has not actively participated in leadership. It’s a democratic organization – act like democrats.

    The truth of the matter is that we would be lost sheep without our IEA shepherds. Shure we’re smart people, but we can be dumb as a sack of hammers in dealing with a large bureaucracy. If the T/TT faculty were to try with some nonsensical Faculty Senate derived construct there would be a knock at the door. That knock would be the big, bad, wolf in the form of a union busting law firm that would out think, out strategize, and outsmart a fledgling construct as is being contemplated by the FSN.

  44. The FSN is contemplating nothing wrt the NTT

  45. Responding to Beezer:

    Beezer said, "I don't think it is fair to call the card-campaign a "push poll" for a number of reasons.... But what difference does it make? Their individual motivations don't interest me so much as what the outcome of the card campaign would achieve -- which is to force a vote amongst the full faculty regarding the nature of our future representation."

    I agree that the phrasing wasn't ideal--and I certainly agree that there is a need for some kind of re-evaluation, whether of continuing with the current FA but with more involvement and new leadership, or through some other organization. I do tend to think there is a need for a collective voice of some kind, although I definitely agree that no representation is an option that everyone ought to be able to vote on.

    I am communicating with Jonathan Bean, and my emails back and forth with Mike Eichholz will appear in their entirety soon on his blog. To summarize my sense, though, I do think the FSN is trying to do what they think of as "the right thing" for collective bargaining at SIUC. I am, though, a bit uneasy about the degree to which a core group has forged ahead with their own vision of that "right thing" and without any attempt to solicit wider input. You'll see my questions as to that, along with Mike's responses.

    I am not married to the idea of AAUP, either--I'm just as interested in Jonathan's suggestion of an independent union. However, I have a tendency to think that anyone coming in and asking to replace an existing organization that is serving some real need (if marginally so in the opinion of some) needs to give people something to actually vote for--a structure, some proposed bylaws, some positions on issues. Instead, I have a sense that the FSN core members are saying to the rest of us, "Trust us; we're doing what we have to do for now, and we'll find out what you really want and act accordingly later."

  46. The current critical question is: who should represent our faculty at SIU?

    All SIU faculty member's voice should be heard.
    The FSN simply tries to let this happen. They send the white paper for DISCUSSION purpose, not sell a fixed mind. In their suggested approach, it includes FA as one of options. If FA believe it is strong, why they are afraid to be tested? If FA really cares the entire faculty member's opinion, they should encourage their members to sign the card. To block this process, it just shows the narrowness of their vision.

  47. Again, how can one "block" a petition? The petition is the referendum. It sets a sensible bar over which those seeking decertification must successfully jump. There is no point bothering with a vote (three way or otherwise) if you cannot get over this hurdle.

    1. We will get over it sometime. Your FA will be defeated!

  48. The FSN should stop harassing us with their e-mails begging us to sign their stupid cards....we all have other work to do now.

  49. Should I say the same thing: ''The FA should stop harassing us with their e-mails begging us to support....we all have other work to do now''?

    Don't forget it, life are equal!!!

  50. 7:07 PM

    This is one of examples that shows some of FA members are flustrated with their 'victory'.

  51. Anonymous said...
    "The FSN is contemplating nothing wrt the NTT"

    Yes. Quite clearly. They are hardly contemplating anything other than their own navels. Their detachment is their undoing. If you have never been a serious player in the arena of labor relations then you are doomed. It's a game of hardball by its very nature. You can try to fly solo - self satisfied in the perception that you are an irreplaceable scholar essential to the University and surely deserving of the rewards you contemplate. Good luck living in that fools paradise. Here it's not about scholarship or merit, it's about who you know or who you are willing to be a toady for (Nicklow). Our only real way to protect our careers and our families is through collective action.

    And Anonymous 5:12, of course you were not contemplating anything with the NTTs, because we know you don't care.

  52. "Here it's not about scholarship or merit, it's about who you know or who you are willing to be a toady for (Nicklow). Our only real way to protect our careers and our families is through collective action. "

    This is very narrowness viewpoint!!!

    Please remember. The current issue is NOT about taking sides, instead, about what is the better way to resolve it.

    It seems to me that once you hear something (not so lean to FA), you are getting excited.
    Relax, taking care of your heart.

    A Family Doctor

  53. It's too early to declare victory because it is clear that both sides have lost. We have all lost.

  54. To A Family Doctor:

    You can't teach an old dog new tricks!

  55. Anonymous said...
    "Here it's not about scholarship or merit, it's about who you know or who you are willing to be a toady for (Nicklow). Our only real way to protect our careers and our families is through collective action. "

    "This is very narrowness viewpoint!!!

    Please remember. The current issue is NOT about taking sides, instead, about what is the better way to resolve it.

    It seems to me that once you hear something (not so lean to FA), you are getting excited.
    Relax, taking care of your heart."

    Well, I've tried, but I do not understand your above response. Can you give it another shot Mr. Family Doctor?

  56. Jonny said:

    "Again, how can one "block" a petition? The petition is the referendum. It sets a sensible bar over which those seeking decertification must successfully jump. There is no point bothering with a vote (three way or otherwise) if you cannot get over this hurdle."

    While I partially agree with the principle of that position, in practice -- (1) the screwy nature of the manner by which such a petition must be done (which is causing a lot of confusion) and (2) the crazy time-window restrictions -- combine to make reaching the threshold much more difficult than it should be. By this I mean, I'm fine with the numerical threshold (that makes sense) but that threshold is highly convoluted with an additional 'pain-in-the-ass' threshold that at best, impedes any dispassionate interpretation of failure to reach the numerical threshold (assuming only for argument's sake that it does--there's still some time left on the clock).

    None of this changes the fact that I was never allowed to vote on my manner of representation, and I expect that this may even be true for the majority of current SIUC faculty. I don't see how the FA can see that as ok or democratic by any means. That said, (and on a technical note) I wouldn't want a vote that would result in some kind of plurality 'win' (so maybe there should be ranked choices). Right now, nobody knows what the faculty *actually want.* Sure, there may be lots of hypotheses and guesses drawn from incomplete (or self-selected) datasets, but come on. A vote is way long overdue (admittedly, it took all of this contract/strike craziness for me to finally see this). Is there anyone who honestly believes that there should not be a vote? That we faculty do not deserve a vote?

  57. beezer:

    We need to recognize that the FA has been dominated this school agenda for more than a decade. People's mind have been associated with the FA for such a long time. Thus it is not surprised to see people reluctant to vote something else. They need some transition time. Democracy takes time. However, I have confidence that the majority of our faculty will eventually recognize that some changes are necessary. My reasoning are based on (1) most of our colleagues are well educated, intelligent, and responsible ; (2) the FA current movement already demonstrates many problems and damages; (3) the poor economy situation forces people thinking deeply, and to re-exam if the FA approach is the best for our university.

  58. I heard that the administration has agreed not to have faculty submit the illegal verifcation forms that they were asked to submit recently.

    Also, there was a letter from Dean Kimberley Leonard to all the faculty in COLA--a member of the BOT's bargaining team--an attempt to start the healing process in motion? She now emphasizes her faculty identity and attempts to portray the strike in a positive light. I am glad she has sent the letter but I think that was a long time coming--she could have done it long ago!

  59. Considering that Dean Leonard criticized the strikers at the last Chairs & Directors meeting, calling them "selfish" among other things, and that the strikers included at least two spouses of people at that meeting, I'd say she's got some fences to mend.

  60. I think we all have fences to mind. There are no winners in this.

  61. Yeah, we are going to need to pull together and learn from this. As a union member who striked, I never again want my union to be a position where it has only 40% of the faculty as members and forced to strike to defend its very existence. At the same time, I hope administrators learn from this too. Why did many of us strike? It was not over monetary issues; it was over a less tangible but ever the more real thing called "respect." Respect for the fact that tenure is a norm that many of us look forward to attaining and preserving, and respect for the idea of shared governance over things like department operating papers and whether pedagogical objections to distance learning in our classrooms ought to carry any weight.

  62. Tenure *is* a monetary issue, no matter how you want to spin it. Job security is about money.

  63. Fine, but it is more so the foundation stone of the modern university. Without tenure rights confirmed, my academic freedom to publish books on eighteenth and nineteenth-century British colonial India would not be guaranteed. Granted, I am not sure how controversial my subject matter is to many people outside of the community of scholars who research and debate the origins and consolidation of British colonialism in South Asia, but a university cannot function without academic freedom being defended, and that requires tenure. There is no other way around it.

  64. @ Anon. 12:05 (and to tack on to what Joe said from the perspective of a different field)

    Tenure is also critical to the function of basic scientific research in the academy. Science faculty need to have the freedom to lead their research enterprises on curiosity-driven or problem-driven endeavors, and that works best when performed in a bottom-up way. I mean, imagine if my chair or dean (or higher) could come into my lab and tell me what problems to work on--or how to perform what experiments (and if I could be fired if I disagreed).

    From an educational perspective, research is also the most important part of our graduate degrees (and key for undergrads as well). For us, graduate students are our junior collaborators (who work with us for years). It would be terrible for a graduate student if an administrator could (as in industry) decide to "go in another direction", fire a professor, and then mindlessly reassign the graduate student to another group (forsaking all of their hard-won progress to date).

    Finally, of course everything in life boils down to time, money, and/or energy--but overall tenure is (in a sense) part of a social contract--in exchange for job security, academic freedom, and a (ahem) pension, I accept (much) lower pay than my industrial counterparts.

    Or, taken the opposite way--the academy gets to have "the likes of me" (*cough*) for that "low, low" price. (Positions at research universities are very competitive, and part of the reason why US universities are the best is because of the strength of the faculty, and our institutions rightfully work hard to keep it that way).

    Tenure (and the academic freedom that goes hand-in-hand with it) is a big reason why I do what I do.

  65. People view tenure as a part of their life, I understand. But I am not able to see tenure is an issue here at SIU. In the last ten years, who has been mistreated? I only saw the situation that some of our fellows were not ready to be promoted, and the FA defensed them. I am very confident to say, a productive faculty member here will never fail to get his/her tenure here.

    On the another hand, I would like to suggest every one to take a look the research productivity of our union leaders, you can draw your own conclusion.

  66. I agree. Science is evident based, not speculation. Are there any filed cases that complained the loss of academic freedom in last decade at SIU? Why it all suddenly becomes an issue? All these are FA leader's tactics!

  67. A big FA figure is in my department. He has no publications for more than ten years, never apply grants for more than ten years, never supervise graduate students in his life. Should I count on him to defend my research productivity for my promotion?

  68. Might Dean Leonard be onto something when she gripes that "the biggest problem at SIUC is all the dead wood at the associate level"?

  69. Can FA leaders post their detailed CV somewhere so that our members can take a look? This is one of accountability they are always talking about.

  70. Some finding:

    David Jonson: the latest publication posted in his web site is 2009.

    Randy Huge: never be able to find publications since 2009.

    Don't take it personal. I simply conduct a web search. Please correct me if you get more information.

  71. Maybe we should be take a look Jerry Becker. Someone always has a loud voice. I am assuming he is an excellent research and outstanding teaching. Let's do some study.

  72. As someone who works in a book-based discipline I would only caution that such studies sometimes are very misleading. Often, historians will be working on a big book project that won't show fruition for a few years and then, suddenly, a book gets published. It is why, for example, my department rewards books three years in a row after they are published in our merit plan. Apples sometimes don't equal apples when comparing between academic disciplines.

    A better study would be a comparison of x union professor on this campus with his academic peers at other universities.

  73. My recent book began in earnest I would say about seven years ago, longer if you include the initial dissertation ideas I had that didn't pan out. I am anticipating that the second book that I am currently beginning research on will also take approximately the same amount of time before it it gets published. In the meantime, if I happen to attain associate rank and then decide to get active in my union, I guess I am at risk of reckless potshots from scholars in article-based disciplines.

  74. Back to "Hi Ho, Hi Ho".

    It would be interesting to hear people's back to work stories. How are your students reacting? What are you doing to get them caught up? Maybe Jonny or Dave could start a new thread.

    I just gave my graduate course a two hour lecture and we have scheduled an extra lecture for next week. The undergrad course is harder. I passed around a sheet to see if there were good times to have extra lectures and it would be pretty tough. They seemed a little frosty to the idea - can't blame them. I had planned to spend the last week reviewing but may need that time to cover new material. I offered to hold some evening review sessions that would be optional and they seemed from their comments to like that idea better. As I mentioned above I have added extra office hours.

  75. Mike, you deserve real credit for offering extra sessions despite the administration's unwillingness to pay you for doing so.

    The best example of why tenure matters I know of is the research of the professor in automotive technology who found potential flaws in Toyota's accelarators. He ran strike headquarters for the union. The sort of research he does could save lives. But it could also cost SIUC donation dollars. Guess which the administration cared more about--dollars or research that costs dollars rather but could save lives? Without tenure he'd be in very big trouble indeed.

    My research? I published a book with Cambridge in 2011 (it is, I will inform you, not a scholarly monograph but a collection of translations with notes) and I have an article forthcoming in a volume on Xenophon's Socrates. Believe it or not, in that article I find much of value in the approach of (the arch-conservative) Leo Strauss to Xenophon. Anonymouses are welcome to trade me one (1) 2011 publication of their own for my forthcoming article, in pdf form.

  76. Dave Johnson said: ''The best example of why tenure matters I know of is the research of the professor in automotive technology who found potential flaws in Toyota's accelarators''

    Dave, please respect the evidence, not speculation. There is NO evidence to prove the potential flaws in Toyota's accelarators' by many well-known experts, including experts from NASA. Google it if you don't believe.

    Of course, I am not saying that Toyota is innocent. But there is no evidence found at this point Toyota has that problem.

    Don't mislead people.

  77. Dave, This is fascinating. At Manchester University, we had to do a course in classical Greek (the real Greek according to an eminent scholar and we studied one of the segments of Xenophon's ANABASIS and Euripides's HECUBA. It was real hard work but very worthwhile.

  78. Regarding "back to work" stories and adjusting to lost class days:

    With both my courses (a 400 level and a grad seminar) we engaged in 'interest based bargaining" as we collectively determined what needs, concerns, each party had and how to feasibly adjust the syllabus and schedule (given a national conference next week which all the grad students were attending as well, followed by Thanksgiving break--which precluded continuing on our previous schedule). I listed what I felt 'needed' to be covered in terms of content and assignment focus and the time frame necessary to prepare them to be successful. In turn they listed what they needed in terms of time, preparation and feasible assignment completion. Following considered discussion, we made adjustments to the schedule and deadlines, broke some assignments into parts, set up individual project consultations and redesigned a schedule that everyone voted to accept.

    Important to note that this process is intricately connected to the content in both courses: one focuses on collaborative group performance/creative design and the other is a pedagogy course based in Paulo Freire's problem-posing method. Consequently the 'negotiating strategy' became a teachable moment, an applied methodology in group process that simultaneously linked to course content and resulted in a fair & democratic plan for proceeding. Across the board, all felt we had achieved a win-win plan in response to the changes necessitated by the strike.

  79. Elyse, This was definitely not "imposed" but free collective bargaining.

  80. Anon. 8:04,

    Your "point" only buttresses Dave's point. That is, the fact that the SIUC researcher reported evidence that is contrary to a host of other evidence might indeed endanger his employment at SIUC even more (despite the fact that he may be correct). Dave didn't say or even speculate about the reliability or validity of anyone's evidence. He merely pointed out that an SIUC researcher found potential flaws, and that the professor's work in general ("the sort of research he does") could save lives.

    If Dave commented that he has 17 nose hairs, I can imagine anonymous posts attempting to refute even that.

    Any comments on Dave's scholarship? That's what folks here were attempting to attack earlier. A 2011 Cambridge book and a forthcoming article are nice comebacks.

    Dave doesn't need me or anyone else to stick up for him. My point is, rather, about the silly pettiness and aspersions.

  81. 8:04 PM,

    The point of tenure is to protect faculty to take risks. The colleague in question testified about his work regarding possible problems with Toyota's acceleration control. He may have wrong - from what I read he was. That is not the point. It would make a better story if he was right. But tenure gives faculty the freedom to go out on a limb just a venture capitalists are free to take risks because they have lots of money.

    The FA deals with lots of grievances. Little about these is publicized because of privacy concerns. I think the FA to more to help faculty see the value of what they do.

  82. 2:23 PM,

    I know who you are talking about. I have discussed this issue with him. At a certain point in his career he decided to stop research and focus on service. The form of the service involved a commitment to fighting perceived injustices against faculty. This included but is not limited to his union activities. As you know our dean has rejected tenure cases that were very strong. The provost overturned the dean in each case. The colleague you are so condemning of played a role in these cases. While you and to a lesser degree I may disagree with his career choices, tenure gives him the right to make this judgement for himself.

  83. @ Anons...

    Yes, let's not start picking through websites looking at who's got the most recent publications (not everyone keeps that stuff up to date anyway). Having non-specialists combing through such lists trying to find gotcha moments of perceived insufficient productivity is unlikely to get us anywhere.

    We all know that there are some unproductive faculty on this (and every other) campus. But I don't think that the 'lazy-FA-leadership-ingored-their-constituents-and-drove-us-off-a-cliff-to-selfishly-protect-their-calcification-and-right-to-do-nothing' meme holds much water. I think the FA leadership did only what their membership wanted. I think all the problems with the FA can be ultimately be traced to the simple fact that it is not representative of the faculty as a whole (and we'll have the next several years to figure out what--if anything--should be done about that).

  84. @ Anon 11:13:

    While I obviously don't know what people/cases you guys are talking about, I would add that some faculty also end up focusing more on teaching, and I certainly don't begrudge them of that either. In fact, provided that their teaching load reflects this mindset, they do a great service by taking a disproportionate amount of that load so those of us who are research-active can more easily maintain a better balance (I *would* have problems with a faculty member who professed, year-after-year, research activity, but didn't actually have any (year-after-year) but expected to have a teaching load equivalent to someone who really was research active. In such a case, I would hope that their chair/dean would have the power and universal blessing to reallocate their duties in accordance with their true effort). I would also hope that such a faculty member would be inovating in the classroom (and at least mixing it up a little) to keep things fresh...

  85. I know that other departments' operating papers do not necessary do this, but in History, our merit plan allocates certain points to designing new courses so to encourage pedagogical innovation. We allocate more points to publishing books and articles and going to conferences, but I have always been very pleased that we also do for teaching.

    Indeed, it was this combination of an emphasis on research (the fact that nearly all of my colleagues is an active scholar), and a commitment to teaching, that inspired me when I interviewed here for a tenure-track job nearly five years ago, and why I chose to accept SIUC's offer over that of another well-endowed private university that did not strike me as all that committed to the teaching side of things.


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