Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"Why You Should Vote Yes on September 28th"

Natasha Zaretsky has asked me to post the following, and I've gladly obliged.  

I am writing this to all of my friends and colleagues out there who are struggling over whether to vote “yes” or “no” to strike authorization on September 28. I believe that you should vote “yes” on the authorization, because if we don’t fight back collectively, the imposed terms will become the new status quo—or the new normal. These terms will eviscerate our tenure rights, undermine our academic freedom, give the administration unilateral control over our wages, and bring an end to collective bargaining on the SIUC campus. I have become convinced that preparations for a strike are now our only option, and here I want to explain how I came to this position.

It was only last spring that I started tuning in to what was happening at the bargaining table. Prior to that time, I was not really paying attention. I was busy--as we all are--with my teaching, research, and family responsibilities. When the Administration imposed terms, I woke up, and I got scared. In particular, the “Reduction in Force” section of the imposed terms gave the Administration the right to terminate me with thirty days notice. I read this as the abrogation of my tenure rights. The imposed terms also gave the Administration the unilateral right to impose furloughs, which I interpreted as a direct assault on my collective bargaining rights. I also began talking with people in the other three local unions—representing the NTTs, civil servants, and graduate assistants—and learned that they were facing similar assaults on their job security and wages. All of these things scared me.

But I was also scared because I did not believe the FA was strong enough to wage a successful strike. I simply didn’t think we could pull it off. I also realized that this was probably exactly what the Administration was thinking, as well, which was why its bargaining team was acting with such impunity at the table. I felt like we were trapped. In addition, I didn’t want to go on strike because I share everyone’s collective concern over declining enrollment, and I agree with critics who say that a strike is not something that SIUC needs at this time.

So, back in the spring, I made a conscious decision. I decided that I would do everything I possibly could to build union power on our campus. I believed that this was the right thing to do in and of itself, but I also wanted to try to persuade the Administration that they needed to take the unions seriously. Over the late spring and summer, a core group of us (representing all four of the locals) devoted a lot of energy toward that goal. We engaged in a series of collective actions (including a direct appeal to the Board of Trustees) with the aim of applying pressure on the Administration. I will always be proud of those actions, and the energy, humor, and passion that people brought to them. The problem was that they made absolutely no difference at the bargaining table. All four bargaining teams kept reporting the same thing: that no real interest-based bargaining was happening.

This brings us to the crisis we confront today. We are now faced with a grave decision about whether to authorize a strike. I have talked to a number of people—many of whom I respect very much—who have told me that they loathe the imposed terms, hate what the administration is doing, but won’t vote to go on strike. Their reason is that they don’t think we have the numbers, and that they don’t think we can pull it off. I understand that fear; I was right there a few months ago. But I always ask them what the alternative plan  is. If we don’t fight back, the terms become the new normal. That is not an acceptable option to me, and I know I am not alone. And if we don’t fight back in the form of a strike, we have to come up with another kind of collective action that will compel the administration to take us seriously. Anyone have suggestions on that? This is not a rhetorical question. Believe me, I would love it if we could come up with something short of a strike that compelled the Administration to change its current course.* But many of us spent our summers trying to do just that, and it didn’t work. The Administration is not listening. And their actions at the bargaining table suggest that they won’t listen unless and until we pose a credible strike threat.

Here’s the thing: some of you may be sorely tempted to vote “no” on strike authorization. If we do not vote to authorize a strike, a short-term crisis will be averted, and everyone can get back to their day-to-day responsibilities. For a while, this may feel like it was the right decision, because everything will feel more or less the way it always has: we’ll keep teaching our classes, doing our work, living our lives.

It may feel that way for a while. Maybe for a year. Or even two. But let’s try to think about this a little longer term. I am not a prognosticator; I don’t know what is going to happen. But let us spin out some potential scenarios. Every time you hear a news report about SIUC’s declining enrollment or the state’s worsening fiscal crisis, you will worry about your job, which the Administration can now terminate with thirty days notice. The tenure protections you worked so hard to secure won’t exist anymore. With less and less money coming from the state, the Administration might say that it has no choice except to routinely impose furloughs. The furloughs, combined with virtual raise freezes and inflation (and combined with potentially huge cuts to our pensions), will mean a massive cut in pay. On top of that, once SIUC’s Distance Education program gets off the ground, you may have your chair come to you and tell you that you now need to teach Distance Ed courses, because the university’s future viability (and thus your job) depend on it.

You now have a fundamentally different job than the one you had a few years ago: you are teaching more and in a way that you never planned on, you are now working for far less pay, and you have virtually no job protection. And to top it off, you will have no power to fight back against these conditions, because you will no longer have collective bargaining rights. And here I am not even considering the impact of performance-based funding, which is heading our way as I write this. Again, no one knows what is going to happen in the future. But I don’t think that the above scenario is particularly crazy or far-fetched.

In the short-term, many of the things that critics say about a strike are absolutely true: it  will be painful and divisive. It will also require a huge amount of work from every single member of the FA. I think that anyone who votes “yes” on a strike needs to be prepared: things will no longer be business as usual. All of us will have to work very, very hard to pull it off. The books and articles we want to write, the research projects we want to do: all of these things will need to be provisionally put on hold as we prepare for a successful strike. But I will take the short-term crisis of a strike over the “long emergency” scenario I am describing above any day.

And I no longer believe, as I did in the spring, that we cannot pull it off. New members are joining the FA every single day, and we are growing stronger. My work with the other three locals reminds me everyday that we are not alone. The prospect of all four locals going on strike together gives us a power that no one local would have on its own. I also truly believe that if every faculty member read and understood the imposed terms, the vast majority of us—whatever our differences—would agree that they are unacceptable. I have complete confidence that if we can agree on that, then we can collectively come together and refuse to acquiesce.

In the days ahead, try to gather as much information about the imposed terms as you can, talk to each other in your halls and offices, encourage people to join the union, reach out to your departmental representative with any and all questions. And on September 28th, vote “yes” on a strike authorization and join us in the fight to resist the imposed terms.

* Note that things like one-day strikes, working to rule, and other actions that go beyond informational picketing, rallies, and the like but don't go all the way to a strike may well not be legal. The IEA is very concerned to ensure we stay within the law, and the law, paradoxically enough, protects a massive action--a full-blown strike--far more than various lesser, partial strike actions. --Dave.


  1. Dear Natasha,

    Regardless of how we all vote, I commend you for your energetic efforts. Here is a question and a scenario:

    Some of the Anonymous blog comments suggest that union membership is concentrated in College of Liberal Arts (and Math, which one person said was once part of CoLA and not COS). What percentage of FA members (ballpark) are in CoLA? (Feel free to answer offline).

    If this is driven by CoLA faculty will this single college be isolated and marginalized by administration?

  2. I feel somewhat better voting yes now that the other three unions are having strike authorization votes.

    It ticks me off that the BOT has imposed Articles 18 & 19 on us, but SIUE still requires a formal declaration of financial exigency for layoffs and Faculty Senate approval for program closures.

    But we have got to get membership up.


  3. There is in fact only one reason to vote yes on the 28th.


  4. I'm concerned that SIUC will not recover from a strike. Our students will leave as they should when they are made to pay for our inability to come to terms with the administration. I'm not a voting member of the FA, but if I was, I would definitely vote against a strike on this point alone. If things at SIUC get bad enough, I will find work elsewhere without delay. If we go a few more years without raises, I will find work elsewhere without delay. This university needs me more than I need them.

    Dave - Is there anything to stop a faculty member from joining the FA just to vote no and then leaving the FA after the vote?

  5. Anonymous, 9:11. Didn't you read Natasha's post?

  6. People who want to vote "no" should join, vote no, then quit. JUST DO IT!But you only have a week to sign up.

  7. So SIUE is better off without a union than we are WITH a union? Great.

    Way to go.

  8. PENSION UPDATE: The news is picking up on pension reform now that it is fall session time. Here is an excerpt from Capitolfax.com (today) on how Mayor (future governor?) Emanuel lobbies for reduced pensions:

    "While lobbying this spring for lawmakers to support a change in pensions for city workers, Emanuel called Democratic state Rep. Greg Harris, a longtime acquaintance who represents Emanuel’s North Side neighborhood. Harris opposed the legislation, which never got traction in Springfield.

    Emanuel pressed Harris to change his mind, and, according to several lawmakers who heard the story, began swearing at him and threatening to burn down his house if he didn’t...

    “It was a really heated exchange, but that’s fine, that’s politics,” Harris said. “People are passionate about their positions, and sometimes things get intense. … I also have a temper, and I know bad words too.”

  9. Have you seen Rita's response to the strike threat in the DE? She will bring in teachers from outside AND SIU administrators to teach classes. The woman is really insane since these people will not have the qualifications or background experience to do this.

    Yes, Jonathan, we all know Emmanuel is a swine and nobody here has any illusions about the Democratic Party, locally and nationally.

  10. To Anonymous 9:32: Do we have to keep going back and forth over the "Greed" claim!? If you don't care to read (and understand) the posts about people's deeper motivations and their concern for the university, then why do you even bother posting? Lazy, stupid cynicism: "It's all about the bottom line, my friend, heh heh..." Idiot.

  11. Rita said in today's DE: "Chancellor Rita Cheng said if the unions were to go on strike, the university would ensure minimal impact on students. She said substitute teachers would be called in and administrators would teach classes."

    Keep your grades on your own computer, not on Blackboard. Tell you students that work not assigned and graded by you will not count. She's bluffing. She makes me want to strike.


  12. You if want to join the union to vote you can and should. But I think you have to stay in, and pay your dues like the rest of us, for some period of time like a year. Frankly the more people who join the less likely we will need to strike. If you figure the past pay raises we have gotten, dues are cheap. Furlough days cost more than dues last year. They will be common practice if we don't win this.

  13. "work not assigned and graded by you will not count"

    Can we legally do that? Even under old contract, I think there is wording that would allow the Board to prevent that kind of pre-emptive action.

    Two things about my short post on PENSIONS (Emanuel was just for colorful anecdote. LOL):

    1. Illinois versus Wisconsin: IEA locals gave money and support to Wisconsin workers. As for Illinois, don't expect any help from either party.

    2. Pensions: don't forget about them during a strike. Obviously, strikers will be focused on the strike but this issue is up again (new inning) so it was just a reminder.

  14. I would like to add a cautionary, hopefully sobering note to all the current rhetoric. I know as I write that I will not change anyone’s opinion or position, and am not trying to do so. I am simply trying to inject a little of what I see as reality. You may agree or disagree as you choose.

    First, whichever side of this argument (I do not say debate, this is now an argument) you fall on, I hope you will agree that a strike represents a collective failure. You may blame the administration or you may blame the FA, I do not care because it does not matter. Neither side can legitimately claim that all the fault lies with the other, (although some have tried to do so). A strike will be the final admission that the so-called adult professionals employed at and by SIU cannot work together. In my opinion that should be cause for ALL of us to feel shame.

    Second, propaganda, from all sides, is flooding our campus like a river, and if we do not take care we will swim that river and find it to be our River Styx. Much of what has been posted/published/distributed blends misinformation with information like fruitcake, so that the two have become inseparable. I no longer rely on anything from either side because neither is anything like objective or reliable any more, all is spin.

    Finally, I do not see anything positive coming out of a strike. It will damage faculty, it will damage the administration, it will damage students. It will hurt enrollment which will undermine what little progress has been made to stabilize our fiscal situation and erode what little stability we seem to be achieving. No one will win a strike, there will only be losers. Ultimately, a strike is like giving your wife an empty box for Christmas and telling her its new pajamas; its not going to work out well for anyone.

  15. Thank you, Natasha, for your thoughtful words and actions. If more faculty thought as you do, we wouldn't be considering a strike. FA would have the numbers to ensure contract negotiations were taken seriously.

  16. 10:19. Thanks, I laughed as I cried....

  17. Freebies! A majority of the faculty are enjoying freebies by not joining the union and paying their fair share. They reap the benefits without paying their dues. In many other universities with a union, there is fair share. Only not in ours. Also, I never understood why department chairs are not considered as academic appointments. Why aren't department chairs also considered members of the Bargaining Unit? Was the Union opposed to this? This is not the case in other universities. Doing this would be advantageous. Chair appointments could be by rotation within departments and chairs are more likely to have the interests of the faculty in the department that they represent.

  18. If I were undecided on whether to vote yes or no, and I got yet another misleading statement from the chancellor about what the BOT has proposed, about what the RIF provisions actually say, and so forth, wouldn't that tend to encourage me to vote yes? The chancellor is doing herself no favor by continuing to misinform the SIUC community.

  19. She is either incompetent or a pathological liar.

  20. To Anonymous 10:19:

    If you want to avoid "spin," there's a quick and efficient way to do it. Just look directly at the imposed terms that we are currently working under:

    Here are the terms regarding reduction in force:


    And here are the terms regarding furloughs:


    Read them closely and then make up your own mind. But remember: if you want to cut through the bullshit, you need to look at the actual terms.

  21. Yeah those are the terms of the "imposed" contract. What makes you think those are the terms being negotiated? Anon 10:19 is right. Everyone is putting their own spin on this.

    For me, though, I can't imagine why a university would want to do away with tenure. It makes no sense for all kinds of reasons. So I tend to believe that's just union rhetoric. As for impinging on academic freedom...well, there's all kinds of definitions for that one. And I'm sure the union is boosting it's rhetoric about that, too. BTW, if a university bestows academic freedom, can't it take it away? Just a thought.

    And who really believe this whole thing isn't about money? It never comes up in union rhetoric...does that mean it's not an issue? Puh-leeze. The union knows that "economic issues" are poisonous in the public debate.

  22. Unfortunately, Anonymous 2:22 still refuses to confront the facts, like the above image in Cheng's logo designed to demean dissenting faculty, and again harps on the "It's only money" issue. Doing away with tenure would fulfill one of the axioms of the Right (also "silent {passive] majority") by having a complicit faculty afraid of losing their jobs and scared of engaging in intellectual inquiry, the ideal submissive worker of the corporate world. This is what Cheng plans for SIUC - an obedient, submissive workforce who can be fired at any convenient time. That is what the Faculty Union is opposing.

  23. Anonymous (10:19 AM):

    Your first part was nice. You had me nodding. Then you had to add the last paragraph, making it clear that you don't really treat it all as spin. You believe the administrators more than the FA.

  24. As the imposed contract explicitly states the erosion of tenure and firing with 30 days notice, go read for yourself.

  25. I assured my students today that I will continue to teach regardless of a strike and that my courses will not be interrupted in any way. They were very grateful.

  26. "I do not see anything positive coming out of a strike. It will damage faculty, it will damage the administration, it will damage students."

    I haven't found a successful strike since 2008 (higher ed). Find me one that worked out well. I'm a fan of lost causes but the reality check offered by the Anon that wrote the above quote is spot on. Plus if students lose financial aid that might lead to a shut down of the campus (the Youngstown NEA affiliate called off its strike when the US Dept of Ed froze financial aid -- and that was at the BEGINNING of a semester). Imagine a lost semester for SIUC. Disastrous. See freesiu.blogspot.com on that strike (running parallel to SIUC events).

  27. This is just an authorization to go on strike. But we may never have to go on one. Anything could happen--Chancellor Cheng could leave and her cronies could soon follow. who knows? As I understand, what a potential strike hopes to achieve is not not just one thing or other--many of the earlier posts have tried to characterise it in unidimesional terms. The FA needs to make a case to the public in terms of the global picture--that directly relates to the what should be the value drivers of a university--students and faculty. Over ht past several years that has eroded--and has been replaced by the so-called administrators. Chancellor Cheng has threatened to call in substitute teachers if there were to be a strike-. She also stated that administrators would step in to teach. This is adding insult to injury--does she think so little of the work done by faculty? she actually thinks we can be so easily replaced in the classroom! If administrators are prepared to step in and teach, one question I ask is why are so many not doing that now?? It seems that they do not really have much work to do.

  28. I just want to thank everyone involved in this whole mess, that after 1 month here as a transfer student I will be transferring to another school after this semester....get it sorted out!

  29. Just for the folks who keep saying that this is about money:

    I'm a faculty member in effectively the lowest-paid college on campus. Faculty members in my college hired after me have higher salaries than I do. I never get outstanding merit raises. I don't think I've ever gotten an equity or compression-addressing raise.

    And I don't care about the money. I make enough to live comfortably and save a decent chunk for the future. I could be just as happy with a bit less. The arguments over raises of any sort don't even really register with me.

    But I'm not willing to let the Board of Trustees and the administration decide how I'm supposed to do my job (when I know for a fact and from personal that the folks making the decisions lack my hard-won expertise). Or decide that my program isn't needed. I have no confidence that my position will be preserved in the next round of "financial emergency", despite what I think is its obvious necessity. I've already had the trained support staff I worked with excised from the college by fiat.

    Note that I don't say "my employment". Yes, I'm worried about finding another position if I were to be terminated. But I'm more concerned that SIUC's students would be somewhat screwed or at least seriously inconvenienced if there was no one doing my job.

    That is what has me thinking about voting for a strike.

  30. "Anonymous said...

    I just want to thank everyone involved in this whole mess, that after 1 month here as a transfer student I will be transferring to another school after this semester....get it sorted out!
    September 22, 2011 12:11 PM"

    Any polling, canvassing of students? What happens if their financial aid is disrupted (as was the case in Youngstown). Is the action by US DOE in the Youngstown faculty strike typical? "Standard operating procedure"? Ask Jim or Marinus (IEA staff). K-12 strikes aren't affected by freezing of federal aid, as happened with Youngstown.

  31. Fact
    1) Emotions are high (at stake are at least our reputations and our jobs and at most our principles - be they students ueber alles or perceived-tenure ueber alles).

    Facts and questions
    2) Stakes are high

    A) the IEA is eager to engage in the first strike of a public higher-education institution in the great State of Illinois (and they don't care which institution).

    B) as Prof. Bean notes, there has never been a truly successful strike of a public higher-education institution in recent history

    C) if there's a positive strike vote:
    i) Can the University survive the negative press and the resultant fall in recruitment after 20 years of decline
    ii) Can the majority percentage of the FA members (106 votes required) persuade the remaining represented faculty ( ~ 600) that
    a) the Chancellor is lying about the Tentative Agreement reverting back to the language in the 2003 and 2006 contracts, the one she dates to February (can you say FOIA?), and, further, that the same FA that was unable to prevent furloughs last year can do better for us than the tenure commitment she made in her e-mail (layoffs only for financial exigency or program closure), and/or
    b) being assigned to teach via distance learning (and how many smart classrooms are there on campus?) is significantly different than being assigned to teach in a crappy classroom or to teach a service course
    c) that they can do better than the 1% in January, 1% in July, 1% in the next July, and 2% in the following July (5.09% compounded over the next four years) - the same deal she noted that the other union got (those fellow SIU workers some are so quick to disparage)?

    D) if there's a negative strike vote
    i) can the Union survive a failed-strike vote
    a) after failing to win on the one issue upon which it focused its negotiating power last year
    b) after, subsequently, the FA team fails to secure the offer with which the Chancellor prefaced her note concerning negotiations with the faculty
    ii) can any of the other Unions which linked with the FA to ride its coattails to victory survive a failed-strike vote?

    What about that Tentative Agreement returning tenure protection to the language of the last two (or three) negotiated contracts? (Any discussion of the imposed contract is MOOT if the Board has offered that language.)

    E) why isn’t the Union be talking about that Tentative Agreement the Chancellor is on record as avowing? How is that NOT at the core of the core of their conversations with us?

    i) what happens to the FA leadership’s credibility if the Tentative Agreement the Chancellor cites as having been signed in February is made public as actually having been signed in February and having been suppressed by them? (FOIA, anyone?)

    ii) what happens to the Administration’s credibility if the Tentative Agreement the Chancellor cites as having been signed in February is made public as NOT actually having been signed in February?

    Further stuff
    The last two contracts were settled at the last moment with the Administration buying off the faculty with a pot of money. There is no pot of money to be had from this Administration.

    It is clear to me that if the FA team can secure the tenure provisions the Chancellor says the Board team and the FA team have already agreed to – those that were good enough for the FA for the last two contracts -- AND if the FA team can secure for membership the financial package achieved by that other union at SIU, they should declare victory and settle.

    It’s the best we can do, and it’s what the membership wants.

    The downside of the alternative – for the university and for the future of the Union is far too far down, for all of us.

  32. Unsurprisingly, the best thing for each and every one of us to do is to join the union and vote their conscience.

    Costs more than a penny, but less than either a strike or an unacceptable contract.

  33. I can't even try to answer all of 9:19's questions just now, but will respond to a few of his points.

    First, I'm not sure just what "Tentative Agreement" s/he has in mind. The phrase is usually applied to parts of the contract the two sides have agreed to during negotiations. Such agreements are tentative as they only become binding when the whole contract is agreed to, but the sides have agreed that they will not reopen these matters unless both sides agree to. There are currently numerous such TAs in place, most of them to leave previous contract language more or less as is.

    There's nothing secret about such agreements. Those signed through the date of the imposed terms are incorporated into that document (though those terms also include a number of things the FA did not sign off on, obviously). The FA bargaining team reported on tentative agreements signed since then at the general membership meeting. I believe someone is working on publishing that presentation.

    The TAs cover none of the matters the FA has been harping about (though sometimes they cover related concepts, allowing the Chancellor to note the TA on the general contract language about Academic Freedom when the FA's complaint is about the specific matter of distance education). In short, anonymous 9:19 doesn't seem to understand what tentative agreements are, and is accusing both sides of keeping secret something s/he fails doesn't understand.

    Where is the good Professor Bean's comment to be found? Faculty at the University of Hawaii got a decent settlement after some sort of strike action. The 2003 offer from the administration was a hell of a lot better after the strike threat than it been before it (and the 2003 threat may have made the good 2006 contract possible as well). Strikes, and even strike threats, are no sure thing, but it will be fairly easy to tell whether or not the FA strategy has been successful, once the dust settles. If we get a contract that is substantially better than the imposed terms, and at a reasonable cost (to faculty and SIUC should there be a strike), then the FA will have done well. If not, not.

    Just what evidence does the author have that the IEA is eager to push us to strike? This sort of "outside agitator" charge won't hold much water among those of us who know FA deliberations (which are largely public, or at least open to all members, by the way--but you do have to go to the meetings). It's not as if Jim Clark (the IEA uniserve director for all four campus unions) is orchestrating strike action by faculty puppets. Last time I checked, I wasn't a puppet. But my nose does grow longer every time I tell a lie, which makes blogging a difficult undertaking.

  34. Just caught Bean's comment on Youngstown (by which I think he means Central Michigan, right?). I don't know all the details there, but the strike resulted not in failure for the union but in binding arbitration. Michigan state law may well differ from Illinois law as well. One can only know how the faculty fare there once the arbitrator's decision is in.

    I'm not competent to track down the financial aid issues Bean raises. But the FA position would be that faculty returning from a strike should make up work with their students in order to get them full credit for the semester. And the administration is saying it wants to minimize disruption during the strike (good luck with that) and it will of course want to do so after a strike. Both sides will share an interest in salvaging the semester. I can't see how financial aid issues could arise unless a strike goes for months rather than weeks. That strikes me as unlikely. Both sides have an obligation (and in fact a legal duty) to bargain, including during a strike, and both can and should be under pressure to resolve any strike quickly.

    Strikes are scary. They are supposed to be. They are also legal--at least in this state. There's no way to predict precisely what will happen in this or any other strike. We should try to get questions answered, especially when they are about major issues that faculty or students are likely to face, but it will not prove difficult over the next couple of weeks to flood this blog and other venues with technicalities no team of lawyers could answer. Because strikes are scary and uncertain we should all try to avoid them. But there are other things worth avoiding, and to my mind untrammeled administrative power is one of them.

  35. To anonymous (9:19 PM):
    "c) that they can do better than the 1% in January, 1% in July, 1% in the next July, and 2% in the following July (5.09% compounded over the next four years) - the same deal she noted that the other union got (those fellow SIU workers some are so quick to disparage)?"

    I feel responsible to respond because as far as I can tell the "some" is only one person: me. The only thing that I have seen that comes close to disparaging the SIU workers who got those raises was my comment that I gasped while laughing at Dave's statement, "Perhaps, as negotiations proceed, we could expect to do as well as the janitorial staff."

    I laughed not to disparage the janitorial staff but to disparage raise amount that administration floated to the FA. That offer was substantially worse than the percentage achieved by the janitorial staff.

    FWIW, my thoughts on raises are about the same as anonymous 12:49's. The percentage doesn't matter to me, but the chancellor's choice to list the janitor's higher percentage in her letter seems like it was intended to insult. If that was the intent, I will confirm for the chancellor that yes, I felt insulted.

  36. "I laughed not to disparage the janitorial staff but to disparage raise amount that administration floated to the FA. That offer was substantially worse than the percentage achieved by the janitorial staff....the chancellor's choice to list the janitor's higher percentage in her letter seems like it was intended to insult. If that was the intent, I will confirm for the chancellor that yes, I felt insulted."

    Three responses to the above:

    1) Interpreting the response as an intent to insult is reading from the gut, as a petulant child; the logical interpretation is that the intent was not to insult, but to make a soft offer.

    2) I'm sorry that you feel insulted to be compared to other workers at SIU - confirms the fact that the FA's interests are not shared by the other unions which have sought to ally themselves with us (and congratulations on the educational opportunities of which you were able to avail yourself, they definitely have made you a better person).

    2) OF COURSE it represents a higher amount than was on the table for the FA (roughly half those raises) - it's the final amount and not the opening gambit. (Do you have ANY experience at a negotiating table?!)

    That's the soft offer that's on the table now, de facto.

  37. To Dave Johnson 10:18p,

    Her comments.

  38. 1) Expressing emotions makes me a petulant child? All I did was state how I felt. I didn't rush off sending an angry email to the chancellor or even go off on big rant about it here (a small rant maybe, but not a big rant). Mainly, I simply gave a word to describe my feelings. I was raised on Earth, not Vulcan. I acknowledge that I'm not always logical. I'm human. I don't believe that makes me childish.

    2a) I don't feel insulted compared to the other workers I feel insulted by the chancellor's choice of what to include in the letter. I believe that the chancellor presented the percentages to encourage FA members to make the comparison that I made and to infer that she included it because the wanted us to see it as a snub. That may not have been her intent, but your response here makes me believe that it was. You seem fixated on trying to get employees to turn against one another.

    "and congratulations on the educational opportunities of which you were able to avail yourself, they definitely have made you a better person." - Huh? Did I claim to be a "good person"? As I just wrote, I'm a human being. I'm imperfect and trying to make my way in the world, just like everyone else.

    2b) I thought her letter indicated that she did not intend to bargain in public. If it's a soft offer, then that contradicts her claim.

  39. Everyone here (on both sides) needs to take a deep breath and reread "polarized lenses". September 3, 2011 10:32 AM.

  40. 10:18: sorry for slipping into the sexist default masculine when addressing you. I suppose I could say "anonymous" looks like a Greek masculine form to me--but really I was just in too much of a rush to type "s/he" and "his or her" consistently. I am just old enough to have learned to write when one's grammar didn't need to reflect the fact that over 50% of the folks out there are not male.

    Polarized lenses is good advice for non-Vulcans. Which isn't to say that anger isn't sometimes called for, or that we should aim to grow pointy ears. To wax philosophical, the virtuous woman or man feels the right amount of anger in the right way for the right reason. That's Aristotle (well, except for the "woman" part). Of course no one can ever agree on the right reason, right way, and right amount. My point is that sometimes anger is the proper response, for humans. Probably directing it at others making anonymous comments isn't often the right way to manage it, however. (That's not what paranoid was doing, by the way, though obviously others have, virtuously or not, directed anger at others on this forum.)

  41. Strikes since 2008 (higher ed):

    CMU (binding arbitration, Michigan law0

    Long Island University: 6% total raises spread over five years.

    Youngstown State Univ.: NEA affiliate started a strike last month and then called it off when the US DOE froze student financial aid. STUDENTS were not happy. See my blog for all these posts and links. Higher ed strikes typically succeed when times are good. Would you say times have been good since 2008? "It's the economy, stupid." (Bill Clinton campaign slogan).

    For more on what I actually cited, see http://freesiu.blogspot.com

  42. Here is the post on strikes since 2008:


    If you can find me more, please add them.

    FYI: the Long Island settlement doesn't even garner raises equal to inflation, so they are losing 2%/year at current CPI.

  43. It is true as Jon Bean says that strikes are far more likely to succeed in good economic times. But most of the dispute, for me at least, is over the structure of the tenure system. The furloughs, partial lay offs, and lay offs at will provisions need to be changed. There is no cost to the university. If there is a true financial emergency they can declare one. If the BOT will include in the contract the language that Rita uses in her letters that might solve the problem.

  44. Jon,

    The link about the Long Island strike on your blog says:

    "Reaching an agreement that satisfied some but not all, professors at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus who were on strike for six days have returned to work. Faculty members accepted a deal that offers a six and a half percent raise over five years, an improvement over the administration’s initial offer of a wage freeze for three years. 70 percent of the faculty supported the contract."


    So, the faculty won. The YSU financial aid issue only came up because the strike might have delayed the start of the school year. As the link you cited says:

    "While talks between Youngstown State University and its faculty union continue, the university has suspended disbursing financial aid and scholarships to students.

    University officials say they were given a recommendation by the U.S. Department of Education that it should not disburse the funds unless it is certain when school will begin.

    Financial aid payments typically are sent out 10 days prior to the beginning of the school year, which this year is Aug. 29."



  45. Mike, Long Island University is a private university so it is not bound by the binding arbitration law in NY (the "Taylor Rule"?). Yeah, yeah, big win. From zero to 1.2% but, hey, the FA says they don't care about money.

    As for the US DOE -- presume an authorization and then a yes vote from DRC, then it takes time to set up a strike. I am asking for info. on US DOE procedures on federal financial aid withholding. If this runs into start of spring, it's a big issue by your measure -- although I don't think either of us knows the answer and the FA has studiously avoided it. And we have open houses and recruitment in . . . oh, yeah, the spring. Great.

    Bottom line: TWO state university strikes (CMU, YSU) since 2008. Good luck with a strike!

  46. http://www.tribune-chronicle.com/page/content.detail/id/561787/YSU-situation-is-why-SB5-needed.html

    Latest on YSU situation. Even if financial aid remains for this semester at SIU (in the event of a strike), how will students manage a delayed semester when they have to work back home? Yeah, this is going to be REAL popular with students and parents.

    Let's hold final exams the weeks of "the government holiday known as Christmas" (to quote from former law school dean Peter Alexander).

  47. As an ex-New Yorker, I would be very happy with the Taylor Law. Despite what people might say, it isn't all that anti-union. Public employee unions are prohibited to strike; if they do so illegally, members are fined 2 days for each day on strike, union leaders can be held in contempt of court, and unions lose the automatic financial checkoff for a year. That being said, there's binding arbitration.

    What really bothers me about this whole train-wreck in the making is the absence of binding arbitration. As I only joined SIUC's faculty four years ago, I have not entirely adjusted to the different labor culture here. And what I see thus far worries me and, indeed, is starting to disgust me. Are there enough grownups in the room, even at this late 11th hour, to avert a disaster that will make neither side look well?

  48. Good question Joe!

    I have asked myself the same question many times over the last few weeks. I tend to think so, but the issue it seems is not where are the grown ups, its how do we get the children to quite down so the grown ups can talk?


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