Friday, November 4, 2011

News Flash: The Administration LIES!

However one might choose to characterize the beginning of the first strike in the history of SIUC, it was definitely not business as usual.  We know that the Administration is deep into crisis management mode and trying to assure all audiences that there's nothing going on here, keep moving along. But if you were on campus yesterday, you had a very different experience.  And even though the Administration has shut down striker's emails, we still heard plenty about the behind the scenes shouting matches and kerfuffles as the Administration struggled to put out "fires" all day all across the campus as a result of the disruption to business as usual.

I am on the line again today, so this will not be as full an analysis as it could be of a very full yesterday.  Still, I have a few comments after the break and an announcement or two.



[Click on image to enlarge.  These are just the on-campus sights where picketers were present 7-5 yesterday!]
First, the numbers game.  We learned from local media that there were only "dozens," maybe "90" protesters yesterday.  This is a gross underestimation.  The map above shows the on-campus picketing locations (there are off campus sites as well).  These sites were maintained for 10-11 hours yesterday. Very few picketers were there for the entire day (I am an exception); we worked in shifts.  With the support of the other unions, we kept a very visible presence at these sites, with many maintaining 10 and rising to well above 20 during the day.  One early morning spot poll of these sites was not going to give an accurate estimate of the number of actual picketers.  If you passed a picket yesterday, consider what you saw -- then multiply that by the number of on and off campus sites and the number of shifts (varying by site) picketers worked yesterday.  Then look at the number the Administration and some local media are reporting -- you now have a phenomenological understanding of the term "low ball."

Second, do not equate "picketers" with "strikers."  We knew going into this thing that many more planned to honor the strike than to actually picket.  Those picketers are merely the tip of the iceberg.  The Administration is getting a census of strikers by seeing who doesn't show up to teach class.  The number they reported yesterday (a likely low balled 78 by some accounts) will double if not more today when the strike affects the the MWF schedule of classes.  Even if we accept the low ball figures, though, that's an awful lot of professors to replace with qualified substitutes.  And if they plan do so with administrators, maybe we do (as one GAU video claimed a month or so ago) have "too many f%$king administrators."

The Chancellor (and several comments here) suggests (here, specifcally) that her hands are tied by BOT policy.  This is a lie.  The collective bargaining agreement supersedes BOT policy, and there are many cases of contract negotiations changing BOT policy, both here and elsewhere.  The Chancellor claims that we are unreasonable in our requests regarding furloughs, citing precedent across the country.  And yet there are also precedents for exactly the kinds of limitations the FA wants to put on furloughs.  But of course, our first proposal was a halt to furloughs for the term of the contract -- the Administration told us no, although apparently they can agree to this for ACsE and NTTFA.

But then we know the Chancellor lies.  She lied about the FA not negotiating during the summer.  She lied about ACsE requesting "signing bonuses" in their contract.  And she is lying about the campus operating "business as usual."

Look no further than the SIUC Facebook page, where the Administration removes any and every comment in support of the unions or even just in support of a settlement.  At first they claimed it was because of vulgar language, even though they leave up the vitriolic anti-union comments.  Now they whine that the page is meant as a recruiting tool -- translation: that makes it okay to lie.  But our students and our alumni are not so dumb, and they have set up a counter-FB page documenting the kinds of comments the Administration is censoring:  SIUC fan page. Stop censoring.

I won't be able to keep up here today as I will be back out on the picket line.  All day, likely.  If you were wondering why the comments were a little more troll-like yesterday, it could be the fear and the need for an outlet to express it, or it could be that the folks who would counterbalance that critique are otherwise occupied right now.  But to help out, we are adding some new bloggers to the mix to keep you informed while I and others are seeing the strong community support (in the form of honks, thumbs up, and food) for this strike on the line.

The Administration can spin all it wants, but I hope it isn't so foolish as to believe its own lies.  Get back to the table, bargain in good faith, and let's get a contract.  You've demonstrated that you know how to do this with the other three unions.  Now finish with the FA.  Three down and one to go!

31 comments:

  1. The large number of anti-FA comments are the result of frustration of so many faculty that care deeply enough about this place to continue working. The FA has failed the faculty that it represents - that why 2/3 of us (at least) are at work and unhappy that you have initiated a strike that will have long-lasting effects on SIUC. I don't agree with the administration. What you are doing doesn't just hurt the administration. It hurts everyone affiliated with SIUC and the community. It hurts that faculty in your bargaining unit. Ultimately, students will choose to go somewhere else and the financial situation here will lead to layoffs. Are you considering that future?

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  2. Just to make things clear, especially because it was somewhat of a personal attack, the "GAU video" actually wasn't made or endorsed in any way by GAU. Leadership actually has no idea who made it (though admittedly I got a good laugh at the "too many administrators" line when I saw it).

    Off to strike headquarters!

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  3. Well, today the TV cameras are gone...and its still pretty cold outside. Strikers are starting to wonder about their COBRA options and may be contemplating a Thanksgiving with Spam on the table instead of turkey.

    Meanwhile, the university will strengthen its weak spots...for if it wasn't entirely business as usual in the classrooms Thursday, it surely will be on Monday.

    Truckers passing picket lines on Route 51 honk their horns in support of the strikers while the FSN carries out a mission that could well mean the end of the FA.

    HughesCo is licking its wounds after being thrown under the bus by the other bargainning units and the FA bargainning team is nursing what must be a very bruised ego.

    And all this blog has is mis-information and innudendo about lies and shouting matches?

    Brilliant!

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  4. I have no way to post an image here, but imagine the map showing where faculty actually went to work yesterday and today.

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  5. Same number of faculty as there were when the university had 5,000 more students. The adminstration has more than enough faculty to break this strike.

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  6. Take a humanities professor making $7500/month for a 9 month contract ($67,500) divide by 30 days. Loss = $250/day counting each weekend day. By Monday strikers have lost $1,250 counting Monday).

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  7. How is financial exigency defined by other universities?
    How is it defined by other universities where the faculty are unionized?
    What about the definition provided by the AAUP? can't the FA bargaining team frame it in terms of the AAUP'd definition? Also, do the two sides agree as to when something CANNOT be categorized as financial exigency?
    Analogy: Bats are not BIRDS--even though they have wings and can fly! The administration is trying to pass off a bat for a bird--what we need is a clearly defined "Financial Exigency"--a really good example of financial exigency that can distinguish the bats from the birds!

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  8. Those of out there on the picket lines are your friends and your colleagues. Our kids are on soccer teams and in dance classes with your kids. We get invited to the same parties. Maybe we've even had dinner together.
    I am out on the picket line because I think tenure is worth preserving, because I feel that faculty--not administrators--should decide in what manner classes should be taught, and because I want faculty to have some say in the way decisions are made at this university. These are hardly radical propositions: they are the bedrock principles on which most universities operate.
    Right now, many of us see only one way to help achieve those ideals, and that is to do our bit by standing out there in the cold and waving signs. We'd welcome any support you can offer. And if you can't support us, can you please at least be civil to us? I am striving to behave with integrity and civility. I hope those of you reading this will do the same.
    Remember, this is a small town. We'll run into one another again at work, at the swimming pool, at the mall, at departmental parties. I'll be able to look you in the eyes knowing that I did what I could, and that I behaved honorably and with as much grace as I can muster. When my eyes meet yours, will you be able to hold my gaze?

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  9. I just want to put this out there for all of the readers of Deo Volente -- the faculty that claim to care so much about this university that they are staying at work (and collecting pay while perhaps commenting on Deo Volente?) to minimize the negative effects of the strike on students had a chance to prevent it entirely during the strike authorization vote. All they had to do to save the campus from an FA strike was to join the ranks of the FA long enough to cast a vote. That would have been a one-time payment of $63.30 to join and cast their vote, prevent the strike with their overwhelming majority, and then drop from the FA. No one prevented them from doing this. Of all the dissenters who are so vocal about how much they care for SIU students and want to make sure to let you know how callous the striking faculty are for sacrificing their pay and deserting their students, let none of them mislead you into thinking they did not have a perfect chance to prevent this strike altogether. And quite cheaply.

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  10. Anonymous 12:23: The FA bargaining team did offer a definition of financial exigency based on AAUP guidelines. They also offered definitions found in faculty contracts from around the United States. All were rejected by the Administration with no suggestions for revision or what would be an acceptable definition.

    Anonymous 10:52: At least in some colleges there are many fewer faculty now than there were at the start of the hiring "freeze". My college alone is down 5 faculty members and/or positions from the 30 we had when I arrived in 2004. If memory serves we haven't lost 5,000 students since then.

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  11. Anonymous 8:55: The three other unions which held out until November 3rd did not "throw the FA under the bus." They accomplished what they set out to do: get fair contracts for their constituents. It just so happened that the Admin granted most of their demands at the last possible moment before they were to strike.

    Individual members of those three unions (GAU, ACE, and NTT) have joined FA members on the picket lines before and after work and during their breaks--the only times they are allowed to do so. The leadership of those three unions continue to offer support to the FA.

    If someone is trying to throw the FA under the bus, it certainly isn't the other unions.

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  12. Money Lost: So those greedy faculty are just concerned about fattening their paychecks, eh? Nothing like losing $75 dollars a day to pad the ol' bank account! ;)

    The strikers are hemhorraging money to stand up for what they believe is the right thing, and the best thing for the university.

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  13. $75/day? I said $250/day.

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  14. As a former member of ACsE, as well as AFSCME, I have seen the administration do what it can to break any union it can. Rita came from Wisconsin, the center for union busting administrations. The picketers, whom I will join next week, are standing up for what they believe in. AFSCME once threatened to strike and got immediate results. Three of the four associations represented in the Coalition received contracts that were almost exactly what was proposed-490 DAYS AGO!!! My question to the administration is....WHAT TOOK SO LONG????? The FA has stood up for themselves and now they are being punished-and nobody threw anybody else under the bus, with the exception of the administration. Solidarity rules!!!!

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  15. Pseudopodymous,

    I fully agree that people could have joined and voted "no" although I know the "collective action" reasons why many do not. However, I have been a member and paying dues since 2003. I voted "no" and explained my reasons why back in September (see freesiu.blogspot.com).

    I fully respect the strikers. I honor their right to strike by refusing to teach their courses.

    But I voted "no" and am acting on my "no" for the reasons I stated. I agree that we all are concerned with our students--those striking and those of us not striking. As I argued in my post, those who vote "yes" had better strike because they will rightly be seen as "scabs" if they do not strike. Because I think a strike at this time is unnecessary and counterproductive, I voted "no" and it would be hypocritical of me to simply join a strike that I object to for reasons stated. Just as it would be hypocritical of those to vote "yes" and not show up and picket.

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  16. Good news: NO PICKET OF OPEN HOUSE.

    http://thesouthern.com/news/local/article_644988a4-071d-11e1-a0bb-001cc4c03286.html

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  17. "If someone is trying to throw the FA under the bus, it certainly isn't the other unions."

    Weel, we all know the FA would have thrown the other three under the bus if the situation had been reversed.

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  18. The FA says they're going to announcement how many students are affected by the strike?

    How would they know? They're not allowed in the buildings...and their emails have been shut off. More mis-information.

    They oughta be announcing how much they'll have to pay for COBRA.

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  19. I am not part of the bargaining unit, but I admire those faculty who are making significant personal sacrifice through loss of pay, potential loss of health benefits, etc. who are standing on the lines. The lack of civility has sometimes existed on both sides, but 12:44 has it right. We are a small communioty and we will need to live together, now and later. We may disagree, but are called to acknowledge the humanity of each other even as we disagree..

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  20. Just by looking at who's in their classrooms teaching and who is not, there is no way for anyone to differentiate those who voted "yes" from those who voted "no" on an anonymous ballot strike authorization vote. Announcing one's vote on a blog might feel like a way to exonerate oneself, but during a strike, all that can be seen is which people are not honoring the strike and which people are choosing to honor it. Just from a practical standpoint, one's vote is completely invisible to those who may or may not judge them. Claiming on one's blog to have voted "no" on the strike authorization does not somehow give that person a free pass from being seen as a "scab" by any random people who might make that particular judgment call. To observers, there are only people honoring the strike and people breaking the strike. Any differentiation between those who are hypocritical and those who are not is purely hypothetical. The fact is, this strike could have been prevented by those who are now decrying the selfishness of the strikers. And in my view, that is some real hypocrisy.

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  21. P***** wrote:

    "The fact is, this strike could have been prevented by those who are now decrying the selfishness of the strikers."

    Except some of us who voted no are NOT "decrying the selfishness of the strikers" - I respect them (as I said in my post), but I disagree with the strike. I just refuse to lose my soul to the administration or the union store (so to speak).

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  22. Jonathan Bean,

    I fully share your hope that the FA and the administration resolve this soon. I wish you the best, and thank you for upholding your colleagues' right to strike by not teaching their courses.

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  23. And it's not clear if you are stating that you question whether I voted "no" (and are thus calling me a liar). Not sure what my motive would be in that case?? I voted "yes" but say I voted "no"? What?

    As for pushing the "my union, right or wrong" notion, it is passing strange coming from some people who decry "my country, right or wrong."

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  24. But Pseudo - the number of people honoring the stike is so small. A vast minority. If one is to make a judgment it would have to be that a very small, but somewhat loud, number of people are on a fool's errand. I dont' see it ending well for those on strike, whether they're acting on the courage of their convictions or not.

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  25. Dear P****,

    I think this will end soon. (He says as he prays to Saint Jude, patron saint of you-know-what)!!

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  26. Changing the topic--but to a related and important one, our administrators (I presume) have joined in this letter urging delay on addressing pension issues in the legislature. We need to keep our eyes on this ball as the current local events take our attention. http://www.niu.edu/statebudget/ (Letter on Pension Reform from Public University Presidents and Chancellors to political leaders)

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  27. "And all this blog has is mis-information and innudendo about lies and shouting matches?"

    What exactly is the misinformation and "shouting" you refer to? I backed up my claims of the Administration's lies with clear examples. What are yours? And/or what is your refutation for these being lies?

    We grow increasingly weary of the Administration's and folks like anon 8:55's argumentative dodges and repeating-it-makes-it-so.

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  28. Anonymous November 4, 2011 3:58 PM:

    The FA polled the Faculty (and only the Faculty) who were on the picket lines as to what classes they were missing and how many students were in the classes.

    The FA estimate doesn't include the number of classes missed by faculty who are honoring the picket line but who were not picketing at the time of the poll, so the real number could be higher than that given by the FA.

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  29. Plato's Big ToeNovember 6, 2011 at 7:19 AM

    I'm pretty sure that the administration numbers regarding striking faculty are accurate. After all, they did check on every class (at least Thursday and Friday). They know how many e-mail accounts have been suspended and how much payroll is being forfeited by striking faculty.

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  30. Did they check on EVERY class?

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  31. "We reserve the right, of course, to remove comments that are inflammatory, contain personal attacks, etc."

    Better take down this article, in that case. Pardon my being rational, but that's how I would categorize this, along with certain other pro-FA articles on here. If I wanted to read a biased, misconstrued article on the strike, I could just pick up the DE...

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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.