If anything good came out of the expensive, tiresome, often inappropriate, yearlong negotiation process between the Faculty Association and administration it was that our many campus problems were forced to the forefront.
Their requests demanded everyone’s attention, and the union promised destruction – a walkout – if they were ignored.
The question to address now is where do the faculty stand who are not represented by a collective organization. There are many others who teach classes outside of faculty not covered by the bargaining unit:faculty in the School of Law, School of Medicine, term and adjunct faculty and administrative/professional staff.
They do not have the power of collective bargaining. They do not have a bully pulpit from which to preach about salary inequities and oversized classrooms. The teachers not covered by the bargaining unit, however, account for more than half of the people on campus who stand in front of the classrooms. They are truly the silent majority and their working conditions receive as much attention as the union.
Chancellor Wendler, this is where you come in. Faculty on this campus formed in 1996 because the distrust that began festering years earlier finally boiled over. Unions are not the problem; unions have long been representing factions of this campus, but unions formed out of spite make for ugly relationships.
Last week you said that all faculty should receive salary raises similar to those promised to the Faculty Association in the recently agreed upon four-year contract. And they should.
And as the Faculty Association continuously pointed out, there are other issues on the table besides salary, such as faculty-student ratios and workload. These issues also must also be addressed in a manner appropriate to the various teaching groups on campus.
You have said that all faculty “should” receive comparable raises. We understand that you can’t promise the contract’s amount to those outside the bargaining unit.
Not all units are the same or deserve the same raises or policies. Every section of campus is unique. But raises for faculty outside the bargaining unit must be, at least, comparable to the raises given to the Faculty Association.
The state’s budget crisis will not work as an excuse this time.
We realize that numbers seeping down from the state budget office do not look promising; Illinois could be $5 billion in debt. And yes, we will all have to survive eating belt loops – tightening the belt one notch in so that skipping meals is less painful.
But the other hard-working teachers, who do not have a place at the bargaining table, should have a place in your heart…er…the budget, long before anyone shook hands on this deal. It was not the union’s responsibility to represent other teachers on this campus. It was your responsibility – and now it’s time to prove that you did just that.