Faculty Negotiations Update

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Dear students, faculty, and staff:

As finals and the end of the Spring semester draw close, I want to update you on the progress of negotiations between the University and the faculty labor union. It is the University’s practice to negotiate with every union at the bargaining table rather than through public statements, as we believe this is most conducive to collective bargaining. However, members of the campus community also need to be well informed. The intention of this communication is to provide a brief overview as to the status of negotiations at this time.

The university administration has been engaged in discussions over a first contract with UIS United Faculty representatives, Local 4100 of the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT), since October 2015. On August 5, 2016, to advance progress toward a final contract, both parties agreed to begin meeting with the assistance of a federal mediator. The parties have thus far met 29 times.

Contract negotiations can be lengthy and complicated, and this is particularly the case when an initial contract is being created with a new bargaining unit. The teams are in essence writing each word of this important new agreement. Negotiations and mediation have been respectful and progress has been made.

Negotiators have reached tentative agreements on several issues such as facilities and equipment, meetings with administration, personnel files and health and safety. We have also had productive discussions on topics such as the grievance procedure and matters concerning the faculty personnel policy.

Just last Wednesday, the faculty union presented its economic proposal so that the parties can begin crucial discussions over the economic parameters of the contract. Another productive session was held yesterday (April 17) and additional negotiation sessions are scheduled for April 28, May 5, May 19 and May 26.

I appreciate the union offering its economic proposal last week, which is already moving negotiations forward. The University has made and will continue to make comprehensive proposals and negotiate in good faith on remaining issues to reach a contract settlement that is fair to all in these challenging economic times. Without a doubt, we all want to see a fair, equitable and sustainable contract.

While I was disappointed to learn on Friday about a vote to authorize a strike of the faculty union, a vote to authorize a strike does not necessarily mean that one will occur. Rather, it represents one tool in the negotiating process that puts pressure on all sides to move forward. While the authorization for a strike is in effect, standard, good faith negotiations can and are continuing.

Via continued good faith bargaining, the University will do everything possible to avoid a strike; but if despite those efforts, the faculty union exercises its option to strike, campus administrators will do everything in our authority to ensure minimal disruption to classroom activity, including final exams. Should a strike be announced, the campus will monitor the situation closely and is planning for dealing with any disruption that might occur to minimize the harm that a work stoppage could cause. Strike activity will not interfere with our graduation planning or ceremonies.

Although the terms of each contract, once ratified, will apply only to members of the respective bargaining unit, all of us — our students, faculty and staff — are counting on members of the negotiation teams on both sides to continue to work tirelessly to bring negotiations to a successful conclusion as soon as possible.

I continue to value and respect the negotiation process as well as our shared governance model, and I am confident we will be able to reach an enduring agreement at the bargaining table.

If you have further questions about the ongoing negotiations, please feel free to reach out to Melissa Mlynski (mmlyn2@uis.edu), our Senior Director of Human Resources.

Sincerely,

Chancellor Koch