Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Replacement Workers during a SIUC Faculty Strike

 The Daily Egyptian reported the following:

“Chancellor Rita Cheng said if the unions were to go on strike, the university would ensure minimal impact on students. She said substitute teachers would be called in and administrators would teach classes.”

And at what point may the university hire faculty to replace those who are on strike? “Substitute teachers” sure sounds like “replacement workers” and they won’t be hard to find. That will only make the union picketing meaner. 


Nathaniel said...

I hope there's no way that Fellows will get drawn into this. I spoke with the GAU union rep yesterday, and he confirmed that Fellows (MA, PhD, DRA, and Morris) are not covered by the union, although the Union is asking for it. Personally, I think fellows deserve to vote as a body on whether they want to unionize. After all, their interests and concerns are different from those of ordinary GAs and RAs at least as much as non-tenure track faculty differ from tenured/tenure track.

Jim Podesva said...

Again, if Fellows were part of the bargaining unit, the individual Fellow would have to decide whether or not to join. There would be no compulsion.

Jim Podesva said...

If Fellows were incorporated into the bargaining unit, individual fellows would still have to decide whether or not to join, there would be no compulsion.

Nathaniel said...

Why should they be part of the same bargaining unit? Why not a separate union--aside from the fact that a Fellows Union would be ludicrous, of course! The facts of the matter are that fellows have a very different deal with both the Graduate School and their respective departments. I am wary of ceding the details to GAU. The one place I might agree on the need for greater oversight is job performance, but seriously, the departmental relationships with fellows, Morris and otherwise, does not, to my mind, warrant it.

In my opinion, fellows have nothing to gain and much to lose by becoming part of "the bargaining unit" as you describe it. I like my chances with the administration. As long as the goal is to attract students from outside SIUC, I see no reason why the board won't continue to offer attractive fellowships, and I support and applaud their reluctance in relinquishing control over that.

You might recall the parable of the landowner and the vinyard workers? It seems to me that the same principle applies.

Jim, I have encountered enough envy from other students, that to be frank, I would not want my contract subject to the same conditions. I happen to like my imposed, non-union deal as a Morris Fellow.

Nathaniel said...

Please don't infer that I'm anti-union either: when I become a TA next year, I will pay my dues with a smile on my face. I take a cynical view of human nature however, based on past experience. How many times have I heard fellow colleagues griping about funding--especially summer funding? I've kept quiet about the Morris agreement on 24 month of TA funding (which, I should add, is a lot less than the 4 years of teaching experience most PhD students get!) for exactly that reason.

Mind you, I agree that GAs are getting squeezed. I'm not sure a strike will be an effective means of remedying that, but I will support you any way I can that won't get me in trouble. I don't think there's any way Fellows can be made to teach sections--and I'll be in DC, o happy day--so I think that ugly scenario will be avoided.

My longstanding argument has been and remains that we are students before we are employees. I would've gone to U of I on zero funding, had I been admitted, but that's a long story--better over a pint!