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Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Message 7/31/12

Message from the Provost – Faculty Unionization Efforts


Dear Colleagues,

I write with an update regarding faculty union issues and to respond to questions and misunderstandings concerning pay adjustments for faculty in the two bargaining units which recently were certified by the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB).

As you are all undoubtedly aware, the IELRB certified the two bargaining units for faculty on June 28, 2012. One bargaining unit covers tenure system faculty in all colleges except Dentistry, Pharmacy and Medicine. This amounts to about half of the tenure system faculty at UIC. The second unit is for non-tenure system faculty in all colleges except Dentistry, Pharmacy and Medicine. Supervisory, managerial and confidential employees are excluded from both units. Dates for the first bargaining sessions for both bargaining units have been now been set: August 10 for the tenure system faculty and August 16 for the non-tenure system faculty.

Certification of an “exclusive bargaining representative” means that the University must now negotiate with the union regarding “wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment” for faculty in the two bargaining units. The University must also maintain the status quo regarding these mandatory subjects of bargaining and cannot implement unilateral changes without bargaining.  For this reason, departments may not implement 2012-13 merit pay adjustments for faculty in the two bargaining units unless and until an agreement is reached with the union regarding pay adjustments. We expect this will be an early topic in the negotiations.

Questions have been raised about why we are not implementing pay adjustments for faculty in the bargaining units for 2012-13. Last year, a bargaining unit combining tenure and non-tenure system faculty (which was later overturned by the courts) was certified in September. The certification order occurred two months after the 2011-12 salary plan was announced by the President, and one month after the pay adjustments were implemented. In contrast, the 2012-13 salary program was announced by President Easter on July 6 – AFTER the June 28 order from the IELRB certifying the UIC United Faculty as the exclusive representative for two faculty bargaining units. Historically, the University has not implemented pay raises for employees in newly certified bargaining units until a final agreement is reached and ratified, for the simple reason that the merit pay program is a mandatory subject of bargaining.

Contract negotiations can be lengthy and complicated, and this is particularly the case when an initial contract is being negotiated with a new bargaining unit. I believe it is important for the campus that the bargaining process be allowed to work and to negotiate contracts that serve the fair interests of all parties. I hope that we all respect this process and allow the negotiating to occur at the bargaining table.

The campus will have a website wherein a more detailed list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) will be posted. More information regarding continuation of the campus policy for retention packages, and other existing policies and practices, will be posted to that site in the near future.

I am hopeful that we can move through the bargaining process as swiftly and smoothly as possible, and not be distracted from our missions of teaching, discovery and service to our communities.

Sincerely,

Lon S. Kaufman
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost