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UIC Faculty Union Plans Two-Day Strike for Fair Contract

February 13, 2014

UIC Faculty Union Plans Two-Day Strike for Fair Contract
First strike action by any University of Illinois faculty

CHICAGO – Hundreds of union members from the University of Illinois at Chicago United Faculty (UICUF) union and many of their supporters are preparing to go on strike next week if necessary, in order to demand a fair and equitable contract from the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. The Union filed its notice to strike on February 6, as required by state law, and plans for a two-day walkout Tuesday, February 18 and Wednesday, February 19 at the UIC campus, unless the administration begins to bargain in earnest. The union has been negotiating the contract with the administration and fighting to uphold the quality of education at the world-class institution for a year-and-a-half, but has not seen any progress on key issues.
"The heart of UIC is its faculty and its students, but the trustees short change them both. They take more of our students’ tuition money, and even with hundreds of millions in profits each year and more than a billion dollars in reserves, they refuse to pay professors what they're worth," said Joe Persky, President of UICUF. “In fact, many of the faculty who teach our first-year students only make $30,000 a year. The administration’s priorities don’t match the University's mission, and after trying to negotiate a fair contract for eighteen months, they’ve left us no choice but to strike."
While the union and administration reached contract agreement on a number of points, vital issues remain unresolved. At its core, UICUF fights to preserve UIC's academic and urban mission as the largest public research institution in the greater Chicago metropolitan area. Its faculty members are committed to the university’s students, research and services, and demand:

 A living wage, multi-year contracts, and a clear system of promotion for non-tenure track (NTT) faculty that recognizes their teaching, research and service.

  • Faculty control of governance and curriculum through the Senate, including expanding its role in budgetary decisions.

  • A commitment to improve learning conditions in classrooms for the students, labs, and access to support.

  • A compensation proposal that acknowledges that faculty took furloughs and salary freezes in the past, and establishes compensation and promotion that is based on merit, addresses equity disparities, and resolves the problem of salary compression.

The union membership overwhelmingly voted in December 2013 to authorize a strike, underscoring how serious the faculty is about the issues outlined above. Since then there has been some progress at the bargaining table, but the core faculty concerns remain unresolved.
"Despite their clear disregard for bargaining, we are ready to work with the administration to prevent the strike. This strike will further unite our members as a collective bargaining unit of tenured and non-tenured full-time faculty. They fully grasp what is at stake in this long struggle for a fair contract. At this point, a strike is the best option to show our resolve to win a fair contract,” said John Shuler, communication group leader for the union.
“It is outrageous that the University has increased tuition and burdened students with debt, all while socking away almost a billion dollars of students' money,” said Dan Montgomery, President of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the statewide union with which UICUF is affiliated.  “Just as outrageous is that the administration has spent the students' tuition dollars on increasing the number of administrative positions and reducing the number of faculty.”
More facts about circumstances surrounding the union’s fight for a fair contract:

  • The University of Illinois has accumulated more than $275 million in unrestricted profits annually for the last four years and is on track to do so again for the 2014 fiscal year. The profit margin is more typical of for-profit universities like the University of Phoenix.

  • Tuition has increased by 25% since 2007, while student enrollment is up by more than 10%.

  • Over the last five years, administrators at UIC have increased by 10%, while tenured faculty positions have decreased by 1%.

  • The union is fighting for smaller class sizes, more individualized instruction, support for cutting-edge research, and classrooms and labs that are safe and well equipped – issues that are of direct benefit to our students and instrumental for their educational success.

  • We stand for hiring and retaining high-quality professors, and rewarding them for outstanding teaching, research, and service.

  • On the average, UIC professors — almost all with doctoral degrees representing 3 to 7 years of study beyond their bachelor’s degrees — received no raises in two years, and three years ago administration actually docked our pay through mandatory furlough days.

  • We are losing top faculty to universities willing to pay a fair salary; it is our students who pay the price.

More information about a media event on the strike line on February 18 will be provided soon. You can also follow strike news on social media using the hashtag #UICStrike
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About UIC UF: Local 6456 (IFT/AFT) is legally recognized to represent all full-time tenured and non-tenured faculty at UIC. It is committed to realizing the mission of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) as a public research university in a democratic society; making sure that every member of the faculty shares in the traditions of shared governance; making the promise of shared governance a reality through the power of collective bargaining; and keeping the principles of academic freedom, free speech and free inquiry central both to our union and our university.



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