Saturday, September 17, 2011

On Students and Striking

Some comments have raised the issue of the potential harm a strike would do to students, and I think that topic deserves a separate post. It seems to me that there are two particularly pressing forms of this argument.

1.  Striking would harm students. Therefore faculty should never go on strike. 

2.  Striking would harm students. Therefore faculty should only go on strike when they are convinced that truly serious issues are at stake.  

After the break I'll consider each in turn.

Suzanne Daughton on the strike vote

Suzanne Daughton, Associate Professor in Speech Communications (and Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies), as well as Vice-Chair of the FA's Departmental Representatives Council, asked me to post this, and I am happy to oblige. 

I appreciate that the announcement of a 'strike vote' is liable to bring an increase in blood pressure to any of us on campus. Speaking specifically to other tenured and tenure-track faculty (although this may apply to others as well), I imagine that you might be feeling a bit of adrenaline... maybe fear, dismay,helplessness, horror, shock? anger, even disgust?... 

I'm guessing that, if that is the case, you might want to clarify some issues that will help you feel more secure, or at least, give you more understanding about why you might or might not support a strike. In what follows, I'm happy to try to offer clarity, to guess at your possible concerns, and to reduce the uncertainty you might be feeling.

Southern Story on Strike Authorization Vote

[Update: A quick story credited to the AP also ran in the Chicago Tribune.]

A quick link to the Southern's story on the strike authorization vote.  The story implies (apparently following Chancellor Cheng's lead) that faculty weren't willing to meet with the administration over the summer.  This is false.  From what I've heard, the administration team vetoed more summer dates than the FA team did.  But Randy Hughes makes the essential point: there have been enough meetings, just not enough genuine give & take.

By the way, anyone wondering if the Southern is going to freeload on our outside marketing firm and switch it's brand from "the Southern" to "the SI"?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Strike FAQs

I've been forwarding some questions from comments to our IEA folks, who are looking into them. In the meantime I should note the Strike FAQs posted over on the Unions United site. They won't answer all your questions, but are a good place to start.

Press Release

Below the break, the press release put together to announce the DRC vote to the media. You can do a comparison-contrast thing with reports you encounter in the press. I can assure you I am quoted correctly in the press release since I drafted it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

DRC moves to hold strike authorization vote

After a General Membership Meeting of the FA this evening, the DRC (Departmental Representatives Council) tonight voted to have the full membership of the FA (dues paying members) vote on September 28th whether or not to authorize the DRC to call a strike. If the vote carries (by a majority of those members who turn out to vote), the DRC would then have the power to call a strike at a date of its choosing.

The thinking, I believe, is that the DRC is the most representative body in the FA (save the full membership itself, of course), but also has the ability to coordinate with other locals, and to respond to any changes in the bargaining situation (things the full membership could not do itself). The DRC vote is a major step forward in preparation for a strike, and the membership vote would be a still greater one. If members approve the measure, they will give their elected representatives the authority to call a strike on their behalf.

FA General Membership Meeting

General Membership Meeting of the FA: 
Today (Thursday 9/15) 5:00-6:30 
in Lawson 171. 

This crucial meeting will discuss the lack of progress on key issues at the bargaining table, and preparation and planning for a possible strike. As important as getting information to members will be getting questions and concerns from members. If you are a member (or wish to become one: there will be membership forms at the door), and there's any way you can make the meeting, do make every effort to attend. 

See you there.  


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cheng on WSIU: Enrollment silver linings, and the end of faculty lines

[Update: Wednesday's DE covers an important discussion on "position control" (the flip side of "faculty lines") at the Faculty Senate--exactly as I was drafting this while being too coughingly contagious to appear at said meeting. I can also now recommend the comment stream to this piece as being remarkably substantial and moderate (sic!). In the same line, I shall note that Ken Anderson, the bĂȘte noire of a past comment stream, made an opportune objection about the administration presenting the Faculty Senate with a fait accompli after previously discussing multiple models for position allocation. Ok, enough French.]

WSIU today broadcast an interview with Chancellor Cheng that had been conducted last week, with the Chancellor out of town this week.  (Curiously, Jennifer Fuller neither noted exactly when the interview took place, nor where the Chancellor was off to. The interview itself was clearly conducted over the phone.) The main topic was enrollment, but there was also an interesting bit on the recherchĂ© but important issue of position control, and an interesting little segment on why students leave SIUC without degrees.

Too Much Information

A couple of recent events have resulted in "upgrades" to my status that may effect my blogging here, giving me some excuse for noting them.

First, I've been elected to serve as chair of the FA's Departmental Representatives Council--which is the most important democratic body (beyond the membership as a whole) in the FA. This exalted position means that I am now a member of the scary sounding Executive Committee of the FA as well. While I will continue to blog here as "Dave", this new office may place certain restraints on what I say. I obviously should not reveal internal FA deliberations when they are part of a tactical bargaining posture, for example. I think I can promise, though, that the effect will not change what I do say, but rather what I don't. That is, I won't say anything I don't believe, but may need to leave some relevant things I know, or believe, unsaid.

Second, I thought I'd mention that I've just been elected to Faculty Senate.  In my view the FA and Faculty Senate ought to be partners in promoting shared governance on campus. This new role oughtn't to effect my blogging status, but I did find it relevant to note given that I have just found myself defending the Faculty Senate in the comment stream to my previous post.

Finally, a more immediate downgrade. I'm missing my first meeting on the Executive Committee of the FA and my first Faculty Senate meeting, today, as I'm home with the flu. The fever has cleared, I believe, but I am still not fit for human company. This to those at said meetings who may wonder wonder why I'm blogging instead of meeting.