Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Faculty Senate to the Rescue!

Faculty for Sensible Negotiations (henceforth, FSN) has now indeed released a notion of how negotiations would continue after they put an end to the Faculty Association (FA). This apparently in response to email comments that, in keeping with the tenor of my earlier post on this subject, asked them what, if anything, they had in mind by "negotiations". They would simply have the Faculty Senate appoint a committee to do so. Presto!  This plan appears to have been drafted on a cocktail napkin. Their latest email, together with their invitation to a decorous BBQ, is pasted at the end of this post. 

Yes, my tone is somewhat cutting, but this is because the FSN have still failed to show themselves interested in anything other than destroying the FA. They have no substantive positive agenda, despite all their talk of comity. Their Senate proposal is obviously unworkable in its current form. Unless and until the FSN show themselves willing and able to develop a meaningful alternative to the FA, the Senate plan, or any other half-baked alternative they present, will remain a phony proposal meant to present faculty with a false alternative method of negotiation. It resembles efforts by a political party to recruit a fake primary candidates to disrupt the opposing party (as was recently done in primaries in Wisconsin). To be clear, as I've said many times, decertification is a legal and legitimate course of action to pursue. But claiming to be for negotiations by replacing the nasty FA with a nice sounding but phony alternative does not strike me as a responsible course of action. Perhaps the FSN can prove me wrong by developing a responsible alternative route to negotiations. Anyone want to take a bet?  

Friday, October 7, 2011

Distance Learning

The Chancellor's email on distance learning is misleading. The Chancellor says (and keeps on saying) that she has no intention of forcing faculty to teach distance learning classes. But frankly, reader, I don't give a damn what her intention is: what matters is what's put in the contract, and she and her team have been unwilling to put that intention into contractual language, even if we assume that is her intention. Here's the dialogue:
FA:  Cheng demands that the contract give her the power to make faculty teach DL.
Cheng: No, I have no intention of making faculty teach DL.
You decide which side is being misleading. Not to worry--I'll provide lots of help after the break.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Faculty for No Negotiations

Faculty will have received an email (pasted below) from a wonderfully named group, "Faculty for Sensible Negotiations". I think at this point the main thing that needs to be said about this group is this: they are calling for no negotiations. That is what decertification would mean. To be blunt, whatever decent intentions members of this group may have, the name of this group is a lie.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Battle of the FAQs

Despite a surprisingly moderate tone in parts, much in the Chancellor's new set of FAQs for employees will be frightening to many--that's what they are supposed to be.

The unions have tried to provide full information on health insurance (especially the complications of COBRA)--and we are working on a still more detailed response there.

Some items affecting GAs are particularly scary looking. I know that some GAs have been asking faculty about this, so I'll call to your attention the response now posted on the GA United website, which offers particularly important reassurance re tuition waivers.

Me and Mr. Baggott

The office of the Chancellor attempted to disrupt the informational meeting the IEA unions held for students in Lawson Hall on campus today. They did not succeed; at least 250 students came to the meeting, and most questions and comments from those in attendance were quite supportive of the unions.

I was in the middle of the abortive attempt to disrupt this meeting, and I don't come out of it unscathed, but I'm going to give you the straight scoop, as there will be rumors about this and the story may get reported in the DE (which interviewed me about it). The moral of the story is as I report it in the lead, but like many such stories, there's something of a twist.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Chancellor's latest email on tenure

The Chancellor sent out two emails relevant to bargaining today. I here tackle only the second, that about tenure. While there is some news here, there is less than meets the eye. I know that many readers of this blog want this all to be over (trust me, I share this desire). Even in union stalwarts like yours truly, there's a little part that wants to believe that the SIUC administration never had any interest in gaining the sort of "flexibility" (a.k.a. power) for itself that can only be had by undermining tenure. We want to believe. We want this all to be over. It isn't. We are making small positive steps. That's good news. But we'll only continue moving in the right direction if we continue putting pressure on the administration--and pressure has been the only way we've made what progress we've made so far. First pressure, then progress. Progress doesn't remove the need for pressure, as the Chancellor says it should: progress is the result of pressure.

The pace of bargaining has picked up over the past few days, and the major topic of conversation has indeed been the procedure for laying off tenured faculty ("RIF", i.e., Reduction in Force--the next best thing to R.I.P.). My understanding is that both sides have made meaningful modifications to their prior positions. That is, after 460 days, bargaining seems to have broken out at the bargaining table. Is it any coincidence that the administration made the new proposal the Chancellor trumpets here two days after a strike authorization vote passed by 92% to 8%?

I have seen neither the administration’s full current proposal nor the current FA proposals (which are themselves in flux, as the FA attempts to provide the administration with multiple ways to meet the FA's interest in ensuring any declaration of financial exigency is on the level).  Randy Hughes is working on an official response, with input from the bargaining team: his response will be better informed on the details involved, including on how accurately Cheng has characterized the administration’s proposal of 9/30. My own first take on this after the break.

Informational Meeting For Students

Most readers will be aware of this by now, but an announcement of a meeting for students:

Four Union Informational Meeting for Students

5:00 PM Wednesday, 10/5, Lawson 141

This is a union meeting, so of course we will emphasize our side of the story. But I'll be one speaker and, as is my wont, I'll try to explain as clearly and accurately as I can the issues at stake, without demonizing the other side. We'll include ample time for student questions and comments.