Wednesday, June 29, 2016

FA and SIU admin reach framework agreement on new contract

One of the advantages to having fewer readers this time around is that I don't have to worry too much about blabbing about what may in some sense be inside information. (And given that I myself seem to be losing interest in this blog, anyone still reading deserves some news.) So I'll report, briefly, what I learned from FA President Rachel Stocking this afternoon. She was briefing me because I'm to take over her job come fall.

The FA bargaining team and administration have reached a framework agreement on a new contract. Final language must still be drafted on many items, and once there's agreement on the language the contract will be submitted to the FA's DRC (Departmental Representative Council) and then (unless the DRC disagrees) to the full membership for a vote.

I'm not on the FA bargaining team, so I don't know every last detail of the negotiations, and I don't want to completely step on what I expect to be a more official announcement from the FA before too long. But here are the highlights that I'm aware of.

  • The contract will have a revised section on program review that should ensure faculty have enough time (three months) to advise (if not necessarily consent) to any mergers, program cuts, etc. This time period will give faculty time to make the case against any unwarranted changes, and build opposition to them.
  • Various changes will provide faculty with some protection if their teaching load is increased in response to the fiscal crisis. 
  • Summer courses will be guaranteed a minimum of 1/2 month salary, and the process for determining whether a faculty member will get a full month has been made more transparent, and dependent on enrollment. Colleges won't simply be able to mandate 1/2 month for everyone.
  • If the FA manages to get 50% membership it will get "Fair Share" (i.e., all faculty will have to pay dues to be represented by the FA). This matches provisions all three other IEA unions already have.
  • Tenure protections from the last contract remain intact. 
  • "Administrative closure day" policy remains the same.
Of the two biggest bad news items, one, entirely expected, is that there are no raises in the new contract. If SIU gets a real budget (not just stopgap funding), the FA can reopen bargaining to lay claim to raises for faculty. The other is that the FA yielded to an administration push to waive the student-Faculty ratio for this contract period.

More details on all of this should be out before too long, and will certainly be available to all as this draft contract is discussed and debated this fall. I haven't seen every last provision, but it looks to me like this contract is a pretty good deal for faculty and for SIU, given all the uncertainties we face here. The best news is simply the fact that we have a contract that will provide us with some protection and  certainty in what are uncertain and frankly scary times.


  1. Dave, It is a shame that you are losing interest in your blog and if you shut it down (as you probably will due to taking on that new responsibility), it will be due less to your dedicated and sincere promotion of important issues but more to the apathy of people here who resemble the scared townspeople in HIGH NOON. Apathy rules and the majority are not prepared to fight for their rights. So, anyway, at least one reader (who often disagrees) values the effortas you've put in to #2

  2. Well, many thanks for your interest and comments--and for you're keeping at it even when we so often disagree. I think your analysis of apathy is in some large part correct. The fear in this case isn't of some administrative crackdown (which seemed reasonable enough in the Cheng years) as just fear of facing how dire our situation may well be in the medium term. It's also hard to deal with a crisis when you can't really back either side (in Springfield) whole-heartedly. Most people's response is the desire to throw all the bums out, which is rational, until they go to the voting booth and decide that their local rep isn't so bad after all.

    It's not only state level dysfunction that's doing us in. The corporatization of higher education is probably at the root of our woes. It leaves institutions dependent on public support out in the cold, and not only in Illinois. I find it somewhat harder to rail against such secular trends. It isn't something "easy" like backing a local union against a local administration, but requires one to fight a larger ideological battle.

  3. Well David, this is one post where I fully agree with you. In higher education we are also facing our own version of 1984 and (21st corporate Taylorism where statistical methodology involving metrics are brought in to evaluate courses, even those in Music, and I was so surprised to see faculty from that discipline passively accept such a horrendous concept. Maybe Rita was right after all with her ostritch metaphor that forms your logo but now it applies to those apathetic elements who think (according to Sinclair Lewis's prophetic novel) that "it can't happen here" . It will - and denial is no real answer or effective strategy.


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