Friday, March 30, 2012

A bit of good news

This went out on the Faculty Senate list this morning:

For your information:

House Bill 5531, to eliminate the 50-percent tuition waiver for children of university personnel, was overwhelmingly defeated Thursday evening in the Illinois House.

William Recktenwald
President, Faculty Senate

Here's a brief press account, which credits downstate Republicans with killing the bill. The plan's sponsor, Luis Arroyo, is a democrat from Chicago.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Poshard, Herrin, and the strike

Glenn Poshard's press conference has provided, if indirectly, the best explanation I've yet come to as to why there was a strike at SIUC last fall. The most important comment comes at the very end.

About midway through his statement, Poshard claimed that deposed board chair Roger Herrin was, as part of a pattern of errant behavior, communicating with the FA through some sort of private channel, and attempting to negotiate with us himself. Poshard waved a sheet of paper which he said Herrin had given him, a sheet which outlined the union's demands. What Herrin told Poshard I don't know, but I do know this: Herrin had no communications whatsoever with the FA leadership. I know this from my personal role on that leadership in the lead up to the strike and during the strike, and because the absence of any communication has been confirmed to me by others on the leadership, as it will be confirmed by Randy Hughes to the press (presumably in a story for the Southern tomorrow, assuming he and the Southern's university reporter, Codell Rodriguez, managed to get in touch before deadline). This isn't to say that Poshard was lying; what he said in his press conference is entirely consistent with him receiving a misleading impression from comments made by Herrin about his source for the document with FA demands.  Herrin's comments were, even in Poshard's telling, rather cryptic. My guess is that either Herrin deliberately played up his FA contacts as some sort of power play, or Poshard jumped to conclusions, or a little of both.

Of course readers may not take my word for this, or Randy Hughes' word. There's a more substantive argument to support my position--though it won't convince the most cynical, it will lead me to a rather more important claim about our recent history. Herrin was wrong about what the union wanted, because he wasn't in contact with the union. But Poshard believed that Herrin was right. At the very end of his press conference, Poshard speculated that the union might have held out for salary gains because it thought Herrin could somehow deliver them. That's false: we had no such belief. We weren't in contact with Herrin, and we didn't hold out for salary gains. But that's what Poshard thought we were doing, so he thought that no agreement was possible, and this mistaken thinking, buttressed by Herrin's claims, may have played a large role in precipitating the strike.

Poshard's Press Conference

I'll prudently avoid comment until I've watched it (and maybe even longer). But may I, of all people, say thank God that we are also about to announce the hiring of a new basketball coach, the better to distract attention from all of this?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

UIC faculty lose round in effort to combine NTT/TT faculty

An Illinois court has ruled against the effort of the UIC United Faculty to jointly organize TT and NTT faculty at UIC (University of Illinois Chicago). This does not mean that UIC will not be unionized, as the university has said that it does not object to separate unions for TT and NTT.  It looks like the faculty union, while it has the right to appeal the court decision, will move forward with separate unions so as to begin collective bargaining sooner rather than later.  For more, check out the UIC United Faculty website and this story from Inside Higher Ed.

I don't frankly understand why the UIC administration has been so adamant in its attempt to keep NTT and TT faculty separate. If it is part of a divide and conquer mentality, that effort is not likely to succeed, I don't think, as separate locals, which are generally part of the same overall union organization (AFT/AAUP in the case of UIC) end up working together in any event. From a purely administrative standpoint, it would presumably be more efficient to have one union contract rather than two. Union activists at the recent NEA Higher Ed conference were themselves split on which sort of structure works better for them--it's not as if the union movement is united in believing that their leverage is better with a local joining TT and NTT, as the two sorts of faculty do sometimes have divergent interests.  At any rate, my experience has been that the NTT and TT locals work pretty well together here at SIUC as separate locals, from the union side of things, and that UIC should thus be able to do just fine with two separate unions, if that's what the administration and courts insist upon.

A little burst of blogging this weekend after an extended Spring Break . . .