Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Strike Ends

In the unlikely event any of you haven't heard, the strike is over.  Below the break, a press release sent out about 9:30 on Wednesday, 11/9. 

Strike ends at SIUC

The faculty strike at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is over.

The SIUC Faculty Association's Departmental Representative Council (DRC) voted tonight to end the strike after it was presented with a revised administrative proposal will form the basis of a tentative agreement to be submitted to the full membership.  All faculty will return to their normal duties Thursday morning.

“This new proposal represents a marked improvement over where we were just a few days ago, before the strike began,” said Association Spokesperson Dave Johnson.  “It improves shared governance on this campus. It preserves the tenure system at SIUC.  It strengthens transparency and accountability in ways that will help ensure that academic values remain paramount, while allowing the administration adequate flexibility to deal with any future financial crisis. And it will help protect academic freedom. All these things will protect quality education at SIUC for years to come. We've got a few remaining issues to iron out, and some things that need to be clarified, but we're confident that we're going to end up with a tentative agreement for our members to vote on."

Specific provisions of the proposal will not be released publicly at this time.  After the respective bargaining teams complete the language, a tentative agreement will be presented to all faculty association members for a final vote.  

“Resolve and determination by faculty on strike were essential to making this progress," Johnson said.  "But we also could not have made this progress without strong support from the Non-tenure Track Faculty Association, the Association of Civil Service Employees, and Graduate Students United.  These friends and fellow union members were absolutely vital to our success. Above all, we are immensely thankful to the undergraduate students who came out day after day, joined us at the picket lines, and marched across campus in our support. For many faculty, the most lasting memory of this strike will be seeing hundreds of students marching in support of their professors. Their support for us was and is absolutely inspirational. We are eager to return to our classrooms and teach these students who have done so much to help us. It is time now for us to work together with our fellow faculty members, with our students, and with the SIUC administration in order to make SIUC the very best university it can be."


  1. Thank-you, Dave, for posting this. I am exhausted after all the hard work and need to head to bed. But I also felt the need to update.

    Yes, the strike was worth it, for what we gained in the contract and so much more. Even the likely critics ready to pounce on any good news for the union can't break my spirit tonight. We did it!

    Thanks also for all your hard work throughout this long affair.

    So....when do I get to hand the keys to Deo Volete back over to you... ;-)

  2. Agreed, Jonny! I feel really inspired by what our students helped us achieve over the past week. I truly believe we took an important first step toward taking back some ownership over this university, and making this a place where I want to build my career at.

  3. Students - Now it is OUR TurnNovember 9, 2011 at 10:49 PM

    Just wait until the STUDENTS organize and demand days off, the right to strike if a professor files too many D, F grades. They can also strike if SIUC's retention performance falls below a certain level and a certain number will be allowed to stay in the university even if their GPA is .5

    BOT might go along since we need the numbers to go up. Yeah, I think the student union is a good idea.

  4. Dave, Jonny, FA bargaining team, and fellow Faculty members on the picket lines,
    A big Thank you! I will never forget all your hard work and sacrifice for me. These are tough times but this callus administration made things more difficult for all of us. You stood up for us. I know you are exhausted. We need to celebrate our victory.

  5. Students - Now it is OUR Turn:

    The right to strike is a labor right. Students generally aren't labor. The graduate student union represents graduate students in their roles as teaching and research assistants, not in their roles as students.

    Anon. 10:50:

    I could not agree more! Thank you so much to so many!

  6. In the end (in terms of the administration's final proposal) it seems like it was a lot of hullabaloo over nothing. we are basically back to square one and the back to work agreement is a real blow--not just in terms of the money but in terms of the future of the union as well.

  7. If Cheng declines to pay striking faculty for the missed work, as she has said on TV and radio, she is in fact telling faculty that there is no need to make-up for the lost education to students. This would be pathetic. Students have paid for quality education listed in the course syllabi. Unless ‘Cheng’s qualified instructors’ have already covered the course material, students and their parents have every right to demand the promised education or their money back. They should be willing to file complaints.
    Otherwise, students will have to defend their grades.
    As one of the protesters’ poster said SIU will now be known as “Substitute Instructors University.”

  8. SIUC Students
    Let’s not stop the fight for free speech, quality education, and respect. Don’t let your petition to fire Cheng and Poshard die. SIUC’s faculty is with you.
    Once again, thank you for your support. You have defined the true meaning of student-faculty relationship. We need to work together to reduce the SIUC’s administration to half.

  9. Anon 11:28
    You are mistaken. Faculty has a gained a lot. Union will come out stronger than ever. Just watch.

  10. god some of you guys are just tired and bitter. lay off already.

    congratulations on the end of a long strike! thanks for toughing it out and giving us people to look up to. much love.

  11. It will definitely be interesting to see the aftermath of this strike. I'm honestly surprised that the striking faculty expected to get paid for the days they didn't work. Going forward, they're going to have to accept it and try not to hold a grudge against the faculty who aren't members of the union and didn't strike.

  12. Furthermore, striking members must cease saying that the non-striking faculty are getting the "benefits" of the strike for "free." The victories "won" weren't needed by most faculty, which we can be fairly certain considering the number that didn't strike. If normalcy is ever to return, the striking faculty need to understand and respect that.

  13. @Students - Now it is OUR Turn said...
    This is one of the most ridiculous statements...patronizing and insulting the students that want to invest in their school to make it better is unconscionable. As a GA, I watched students bond with their instructors in ways that really mattered...from the heart and soul. The students learned what activism is on the front lines, they were empowered for the first time in their lives, and they GET the REAL ISSUES. It is appalling that you would use your broad brush to paint ALL of our students as some sort of slackers. What everyone that I have spoken with has realized is that even though the strike was difficult, it was a symptom of a larger problem within the institutional structure of SIU. Students want a say in where their money is going and they have every right to question what they see. They see these grand structures being built, yet have no clear answers as to why their instructors were forced into striking, and forced into taking furlough days. Undergraduates realize that resources are top heavy and priorities are misdirected and they want that to change so that their favorite faculty members who ARE qualified to teach them are safe and can build a future for other students.
    Mickey Johnson

  14. Thank You Mickey Johnson. I am only one of the many undergraduate students who not only participated in the strike, but lent my help to organize the student rallies in support of our faculty. I am so tired of being ridiculed for standing up for my teachers. My decision to be an active participant through this whole ordeal has not received any support from my own family, so the friendships that I have made during this strike made me a stronger person and I want to thank everyone, teachers and fellow students, who were there with me the whole way through. This stike really was a symptom of much bigger problems within this institution, and we may be undergraduates, but we still have the capacity to think for ourselves, question the things that we don't agree with, and fight for what we think is right. I will never forget this experience as long as I live and even though I wasn't in the classroom all week, I certainly learned a whole lot!

  15. @ Anonymous 12:47 AM. From reading the bulk of your posts, I would guess that you are a non striking faculty member. Firstly, I respect all the faculty that decided that their student's education was of a higher priority than their own well-being and did not strike. However, I also support all of the faculty that decided to strike simply because the administration clearly did not care, judging by their actions.

    With that being said, to suggest that the benefits won were not needed and was just all fuss over nothing, I would ask you to consider the number of people that work in professions that offer the kind of job securities that the strikers and students fought hard for the faculty to have. No very many. All of those who did not strike will be enjoying all of these benefits even though they did not strike, so they do owe the strikers and the students that supported them, a debt of gratitude.

  16. I get very agitated when undergrads are discredited by grad students or faculty. Students are smart enough to perceive what professors think of them individually and collectively. What the other side needs to consider is that they would not have a job if the students were not here. SMH

  17. Thank-you students for your incredible show of support. This was never just about faculty; it was always about the integrity of the entire system. Our bottom line is YOU, not your tuition and fee dollars. And we know our relationship with you goes far beyond the classroom and the lab.

    The perpetually "perplexed" and not very "quiet ones" (among others) here have a vested interest in downplaying the significant gains from this strike. Hear them out (that's the purpose of venues like Deo Volente), but don't ever think that theirs is the only voice in the discussion. And never let their or anyone else's cynicism silence YOUR voice.

  18. Union leadership took us right over a cliff. We can do better than this, folks... And, we have a chance to do so. Sign those cards and send them in! Time to set things right.

  19. Anonymous 6:45 am said: "Union leadership took us right over a cliff. We can do better than this, folks... And, we have a chance to do so. Sign those cards and send them in! Time to set things right."

    Hey you FSN...why don't you go take a hike and go off a cliff? you just ain't going to get those FSN cards signed! Stop sending them to us! and stop harassing us with your stupid FSN cards.

  20. (cue music)
    I loaded 16 tons of total BS
    And the FA said "What a great success"
    You load 16 tons, whaddya get?
    7 days older and deeper in debt
    Students don't you call me cause I can't go
    I owe my soul to the NEA store...
    Doo Doo, Doo Doo, Doo-Doo-Doo-Dooooooo...

  21. The strong bond between students and faculty witnessed by all during the strike is going to be a big draw in terms of upping the enrollment. The irony is that Cheng, Niklow and co. will probably take all the credit!

  22. Plato's Big ToeNovember 10, 2011 at 7:27 AM

    I'm just glad that Ryan Netzley will be returning his English lessons to the classroom and hopefully away from this blog. Ryan - If you need to comment, please see the grammar in 7:11 above. :)

  23. "Hey you FSN...why don't you go take a hike and go off a cliff?"

    Yeah stop. Transparency and accountability don't apply to the FA. We are above all that. We can orchestrate a strike and disrupt the entire campus and we don't have to face ANY consequences. So there.

    Yeah right... Dream on.

  24. "The strong bond between students and faculty witnessed by all during the strike is going to be a big draw in terms of upping the enrollment. The irony is that Cheng, Niklow and co. will probably take all the credit! "

    Was this intended as a joke? Are you serious? Enrollment is going to crash as a result of this fiasco. Students are already requesting transcripts and some have even already received admission letters after inquiring about transferring. Next fall will likely be a disaster.

  25. Anons. 6:45 and 7:11 said:

    Anonymous 6:45 am said: "Union leadership took us right over a cliff. We can do better than this, folks... And, we have a chance to do so. Sign those cards and send them in! Time to set things right."

    Hey you FSN...why don't you go take a hike and go off a cliff? you just ain't going to get those FSN cards signed! Stop sending them to us! and stop harassing us with your stupid FSN cards.

    Obviously I don't agree with the sentiments in either of these posts.

    It is clear that the biggest fallout from the strike--the rifts among the faculty--are largely caused by the fact that the FA is not (currently) a representative body for the whole faculty. There are different reasons for this. However, the biggest one is that there has not been a faculty-wide vote for our mechanism of representation for a long, long time. The easiest way (now, but not the only way) for us to have such a vote is the mechanism being put forth by the FSN.

    FAers--if you disagree with the FSN, fine--but there is great utility in such a vote. As I've said before, if you are right (and most faculty want FA representation), imagine how much stronger and more representative the union will become if this fact is shown for all to see with a faculty-wide vote? Alternatively, imagine (just for a moment) you are wrong and most faculty *don't* want FA representation as it is now. Do you really think it would be ok and just for the FA to go on and keep representing us in such a case? A vote is clearly needed (and because of the quirks of IL labor law I guess, now is the time to do it).

  26. Certainly the FA only got what it could have gotten without a strike.

  27. I agree wholeheartedly with Anon 7:24. I believe students will be drawn to this university as they watch democracy in action via the rally and picket videos on Youtube and elsewhere. Of course, the anti-union folks are convinced that enrollment will suffer because of the strike. Anon 7:35 states "next fall will likely be a disaster". One major theme I've witnessed about the many anti-FA comments on Deo Volente and elsewhere is the anti-FA folks seem to lack vision. They cannot see the long term benefits or anything positive that might come out of this. Well, all we can do is wait and see. Perhaps if the anti-FA could think positively for a change, they might be less convinced that "Enrollment is going to crash as a result of this fiasco". Also, Anon 7:35, do you have proof that "Students are already requesting transcripts and some have even already received admission letters after inquiring about transferring"? If so, how many students have done these things?

  28. The FA needs to thank the Occupy SIU folks as well for their help.

  29. To the Occupy Carbondale folks, yes! Thank-you for your support. I've said it elsewhere on this blog and on your Facebook page -- you are having profound positive effects on community climate and democratic dialogue. Your methods of crowd communication and consensus dialogue show up in part and in whole in a variety of places, lately. As we transition past the strike, I hope web sites like Occupy SIUC will continue to flourish in meaningful connections with the occupy movement.

    To the FSN and FA-critics...your referendum is already underway. It is not just the vote; it is also the petition. I have already voted in that first (and likely only) phase of the referendum. Your pleas for others to "send in those cards" are at best crass opportunism and more likely desperation at this point. I have serious doubts that you will get the second half of the signatures you need in the slow trickle after your initial push. But we'll see...

    You are certainly welcome to your opinions of the FA. I get that the FSN and its members do not support the FA (or any union, really). What I don't understand (and I suspect is off-putting to those not aligned with either "camp") is your active attempts to bust this strike by not only bad-mouthing what the FA has accomplished before you even fully understand it, but some of you also jumping to the head of the line to substitute in teacherless classrooms regardless of your expertise or qualifications to take those roles. You accuse the FA of creating a toxic atmosphere on this campus, but behind a very thin veneer of "sensibility" several of you seem to harbor deep and almost pathological resentments. Take a deep breath....and let it go!

    At the very least, I am glad you are willing to participate in the open dialogue space Deo Volente provides....since you still refuse to set up such a site of your own.

  30. Anyway, let us have no far. Apparently, Rita has been inundated by letters from students wanting their substitute instructors to remain in class. She is so sure of this that she will not allow the DE to see this documentation for themselves

  31. Typo. It should be "fear". Apologies, since I'm tired from strike aftermath. Maybe, the FSN and anti-FA people ought to realize that they are also disposable.

  32. Anonymous 7:57 AM:

    The strike vote of the FA membership was more than a year after the previous contract had expired, and the strike was 16 months after the previous contract had expired.

    How long would it have taken us to get what we got without a strike?

  33. "Our bottom line is YOU, not your tuition and fee dollars."

    if the FA's bottom line is not the faculty, then it's not representing its members. As faculty, students are key, but the FA's only responsibility is to advocate for the faculty. Every other agenda is outside its role.

  34. Anon 12:49

    Easy answer: as of last week, FA had everything it has now with two exceptions:

    1) Board policy on FE is now contractual
    2) Striking members are out 1/4 month salary off their nine month rate.

    So, how long? One week less.

    One other question: if it's ok for faculty to work now without an agreement, why wasn't this ok last week when we were "forced" to strike?

  35. Johnny wrote:

    "At the very least, I am glad you are willing to participate in the open dialogue space Deo Volente provides....since you still refuse to set up such a site of your own."

    What's the point of having two (or more) sites? I think each one would just tend to become an echo chamber of like-minded screeds (like a Faux-News trollboard).

    (probably best just to keep this the clearinghouse site for everyone's thoughts, so it's good that you don't mind).

  36. Johnny wrote:

    "Your pleas for others to "send in those cards" are at best crass opportunism and more likely desperation at this point. I have serious doubts that you will get the second half of the signatures you need in the slow trickle after your initial push. But we'll see..."

    You may not like the FSN, but I don't see why it is "crass" to call for a full vote of the faculty to find out what it really wants in terms of representation. Why are we beholden to a vote that took place so long ago? I don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised if the SIUC faculty body has had a >50% turn-over since then. If the "opportunism" comment refers to the timing, well, my understanding is that you can lay at least part of the blame at the feet of IL labor law for that one (and another part, it sounds like, may come from the (understandable) ignorance about said law).

    From what I hear, they are way past half-way now to the needed number of cards. I can't say they'll make it all the way. But either way, there ultimately should be a referendum on representation on this campus -- and it should become a regular thing.

  37. Anonymous (1:00 PM):

    I don't think that's all the FA got since the strike. Since the strike began, the updates that I've received indicate several things that the FA got after the strike began.

    The FA got more than just the Board policy on Financial Exigency, and the contract includes AAUP language. The FA also got an extension on the layoff notice timeline in all but precipitous financial declines (Financial Exigency clearly defined + precipitous).

    The FA retained its ability to continue the ULP against the impasse to imposition tactics used last year. That ULP could result in a reversal of last year's furloughs.

    The FA got a standardized full month's pay for face-to-face overload courses.

    The FA got the opportunity to bargain sexual harassment and conflict of interest procedures rather than just taking the procedures that the administration had written.

  38. Based on my rough calculations it seems that the FSN has about 140 signed cards...exactly the same level of support they boasted about back when they started spamming us. I don't think they're going to make it.

  39. @ Anon. 8:52. Small quibble -- I think they were at more like half way (~100ish) when the emails started, and sounds like over 150 now -- but that doesn't mean I disagree with your conclusion. However, I would point out: 1) the number is impressive when you consider how quickly the effort was thrown together--particularly given these crazy, high-tension times; and 2) I think it is more than (or at worst, similar to) the number of faculty who went on strike. If the FA contended that the number of striking faculty was significant (and I think they did), then so must be the number of FSN signers. I still hope they make the threshold by the deadline--it would be a damn shame if the current faculty never get the chance to vote on their representation.

  40. Beezer:

    Check your emails. Mike Eichholz claimed "more than 140 supporting faculty members" the day after he sent his first email.

    Despite the crazy high-tension times, it looks like a lot of people aren't ready to turn things over to the FSN without more assurance that they would get something that's better than the FA.

  41. breezer--

    Sign a card and return it in the mail. Spend days on a picket line, sacrifice salary, and work overtime to catch up when we return. Yeah, they are exactly the same.

  42. @ paranoid: I'm not ready to "turn things over to the FSN" either. It is unfortunate that (it would seem) that the only way to get a binding vote on the nature of representation is their card campaign, and I do understand that it's hard for such a campaign to gain sufficient traction if: (1) they have to have every duck in a row for the various options that should be considered (ok, I admit that's not an undesirable requirement, except...); and (2) they're stuck trying to organize such a campaign under the time window apparently required by law.

    @ Jonny: Well, I would "agree" with you that they are the same, not only in terms of numbers of participants, but probably also in terms of the outcomes (e.g., relative success in meeting their goals at outset, and damage done to faculty morale and relationships). I certainly never said that the level of personal sacrifice was equal; however, I would point out that sacrifice is most meaningful when: (1) the person making that sacrifice actually believes in what they are doing; (2) that sacrifice pays off (and no I don't mean for them), in that what was gained was worth what was sacrificed; and (3) the effort doesn't actually make things worse overall. I'm sure we disagree on (1) and (2) but no one knows the answer to (3).

    Look. If and when the FSN campaign goes down (by getting close-but-no-cigar with the required threshold), I'm sure that some in the FA may cheer and gloat, just like some of the 'stability-challenged' folk who were not striking taunted and poked at the strikers.

    But I ask this. What is the FA's position on the fence-sitters regarding such questions? Some, like Mike, have posited on that previously. If the FA's position were that the majority of the faculty secretly supported the strike, but didn't have the cajones to back it up with action, then, well, the FA would have to have a lower opinion of our colleagues at large than I do. However, I don't think that is the case (meaning, I don't think the FA, as whole, thinks that).

    I don't think that there would have been a strike if all faculty were represented and all faculty voted. On the other hand, perhaps the administration would be less quick to dismiss the concerns of the faculty (and things maybe wouldn't have come to a head like they did in the first place) if all the faculty were represented, and all the faculty had the power to vote.

    Hmmmm... If only there were a way to find out what the faculty wanted!

    (Hell, at this point I'd accept a non-binding web-based doodle-poll. Anything.)

  43. "But I ask this. What is the FA's position on the fence-sitters regarding such questions?"

    I think this question reveals much in the asking. The FA has no position on such. Nor does it have an official, stated position on the FSN's petition. Individual members are free to choose what to do regarding signing a piece of paper or speculating about colleagues' positions. Quite simply, the FA does not speak with a unified voice and contains multiple perspectives. For example, the DRC vote to end the strike was not unanimous.

    When you or someone else offers a viable alternative to the FA, I will gladly sign a petition setting up a vote to decertify and replace. But I see no evidence that the FSN or other FA critics understand what a union provides, why that requires dues, and why those who pay dues are not so eager to hear the regular vote of those who do not. The NEA/IEA may not be our best option, but in my opinion it is better than a magical Faculty Senate subcommittee or no collective bargaining at all. And I expressed that opinion, quite democratically, by personally choosing not to sign the current petition.

    At the end of the day, that is really all that matters. Hindsight speculation about what might of been is not really very persuasive or useful. But if the petition does fail and you are still not happy with your bargaining unit's representation in contract negotiations, I hope you will either join the FA or try again with a petition that offers a better alternative. If this exercise does nothing more than provide useful feedback for developing a better alternative, it will have been useful.

  44. @ Jonny,

    Ok -- except for the bit about "why those who pay dues are not so eager to hear the regular vote of those who do not" (I still contend that if the FA wants to be representative, it should be concerned with what the faculty want) -- I see many of the points in what you are saying.

    In any case I expect now there will be plenty of time for people to try to flesh out what alternatives there might be to the FA, and how we can have a representiatve organization that is, well, more representative (be it the FA, or something else). However, I see now this topic has moved to the forefront with the most recent blogpost...


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