(see also: Organizing 101 page)
Who is UIS United Faculty and what are its goals?
We are your colleagues – tenure-track, and tenured faculty with 51% or greater faculty appointments at UIS. We seek to become an independent and effective voice for all faculty at UIS that promotes our shared commitment to the highest standards of excellence in teaching, research, and public service.
We believe in shared governance. Effective shared governance can only be achieved through the power of collective bargaining. A legally binding contract – one that can only be negotiated with the consent of both the faculty and the administration – is the best way to stabilize, preserve and enhance what we value most in our jobs. A union contract, or collective bargaining agreement, provides stable procedures to address most working condition issues that faculty now have to deal with on an individual basis.
Because there is strength in numbers, we also seek to affiliate with the Illinois Federation of Teachers/American Federation of Teachers. The IFT and AFT are the strongest union voice for faculty in public higher education. In Illinois, the majority of public university faculty who belong to a union, belong to the IFT.
How can I have a voice in the faculty union?
A union is made up of its members. It would operate under a constitution and bylaws that address the organization’s structure and rules of operation. Individuals would participate by seeking an active and, perhaps, elected role in the organization.
In addition to a collective bargaining agreement, what are the other advantages of being part of a union?
Individual efforts to apply pressure in Springfield are sporadic and rarely sustained or well organized. However, faculty working together can have a powerful voice at the Statehouse. Full-time representatives of the IFT will work with us at the Capitol to advocate consistently and pro-actively for public higher education funding and legislation that benefits both our students and our institutions. These representatives communicate regularly with members to seek both their input and their support in initiatives to improve state funding initiatives.
In addition, membership provides individuals with access to legal resources and representation through any grievance processes and through the rights guaranteed under the Illinois Education Labor Relations Act. Through the IELRB, unionized faculty have recourse to protection from violations of due process.
How Can a Union Affect Our Compensation?
While belonging to a union can’t guarantee that your salary will be higher, generally speaking, this is the case. For example, the average wage of an Assistant Professor at UIS is 15% below that of an Assistant Professor at Eastern Illinois University and 4% below that of our colleagues with the same rank at Western Illinois University. Associate Professors in Springfield can expect to make 8% less than their counterparts at Eastern and nearly 5% less than the associate faculty at Western. When comparing faculty salaries at UIS to those of its peer institutions (as defined by our campus strategic plan), we found that average salaries were roughly 3% below that of the group average but nearly 8% below the average of those campuses in the group that have a union contract. In addition, a union contract lets faculty know what raises they can expect annually for the duration of the contract—they need not wait each year to see if the administration has approved increases.
Lastly, unilateral pay cuts, such as furloughs, cannot occur without having been agreed to in consultation with the union. The Administration could not impose furloughs on us, as it did in 2010, without the union’s agreement. To date, no faculty on Illinois public university campuses with IFT contracts have agreed to furloughs, nor have any been imposed.
What other University Faculty are Unionized?
Faculty at Rutgers, the University of Florida, the University of Alaska, and the SUNY campuses are unionized; of UIS’s peer institutions, Lake Superior State, Northern Michigan, and the University of South Dakota, to name a few, have faculty unions.
In Illinois, most state institutions have unionized faculty, including Eastern, Western, Southern, and most recently, our sister campus – the University of Illinois at Chicago. The nearly 1000 faculty there voted to form a union last spring. In addition, the faculty at Urbana-Champaign are currently engaged in an organizing campaign.
Why do I pay dues?
Union dues support the everyday activities of the union. It also supports other activities to benefit members: training, continuing education, publications, professional development, and political advocacy.. A union’s sole mission is to support the interests of its members, and all dues are used to support this end. A portion of our dues would go to the state IFT and national AFT to support their work—including academic freedom investigative reports, research and policy work, congressional testimony on behalf of higher education issues, and grassroots advocacy.
Dues normally start after the first contract is negotiated.
Want to know more?
Follow this blog (see right) or email the UISUF Executive Board at firstname.lastname@example.org.