Friday, November 18, 2011

Professor Publius: FA Contract a Real Loser (Chart)

"Professor Publius" sent the following before-and-after chart comparing FA demands with what the FA got. Feel free to respond (or not). It's a semi-free country, after all.

Click on each chart to enlarge. 


Dave Johnson said...

The chart is very inaccurate.

There was indeed little movement on furloughs or salaries. But there are at least deadlines now [missed on the chart] for conflict of interest & sexual harassment negotiations to finish. And there was major movement on financial exigency. As the chart notes, the AAUP definition of FE is now incorporated, not the circular definition in the BOT policy, though the procedures in that policy are essentially adopted in the agreement. The chart also misses that the FA gained the right to strike if the FA believes the BOT is acting in bad faith re exigency (the only means of accountability the administration could stomach). Also missing in the chart is the major movement on the cluster of issues about workload, distance education, and operating papers, which the good Dr. Publius doesn't even consider.

The FA website now contains a summary of changes, and a version of the tentative agreement with changes since the last contract highlighted: check those out.

Reasonable people can differ about whether the strike was "worth it" (depending largely on how one calculates the cost of the strike)--but let's start by getting the facts right. I think the proper frame of reference (not in itself a simply factual matter, of course, but one requiring judgement) would require comparing the imposed terms and the final contract--as so much of what was gained in the meantime relied on the strike threat. Had the FA blinked on November 2 without further progress on tenure, clearly the most important issue for most faculty, that strike threat would have been revealed to be hollow, and would never have counted for anything in future negotiations.

I'm not saying the strike was a complete rout--that the FA got everything it wanted. The administration successfully avoided rigorous transparency or accountability regarding furloughs. But neither did the administration get everything it wanted.

And we can ask the same question of the administration. Was imposing terms last spring worth it? Was holding out against accountability and transparency, even at the cost of a strike, worth it? I think the answers to those questions are pretty easy, as you may guess.

testing05401 said...

"There was indeed little movement on furloughs or salaries."

BIG win for BOT, IMHO.

What I gather from the Good Dr. Johnson's post is that the FA win was over exigency. And the FA can strike. I'm sure that BOT is quivering in its boots over that one. They conceded, as Randy Hughes did a year ago, that it is very hard to fire tenured folk whatever standard you use.

So their BIG issue was furloughs (right to cut our pay) and keep salaries near zero. They won those bread-and-butter issues while FA focused on exigency.

Far from making Cheng look bad, I think the end result makes her look good to whatever university she will go to next.

The Masked Avenger said...

I think Jon Bean has it dead on! The debate about whether to strike or not is a mute point but the fact remains that Cheng looks a whole lot better coming out of this "strike" than she did going in. As for having the right to strike if you disagree thats a damn joke per and simple. This union needs to focus on building its membership and electing new leaders if it wants to have any serious power moving forward. I say this because many dues paying members are feed up with the leadership and might not be dues paaying much longer. Additionally, the FA did virtually nothing in this situation to attract people who aren't members to the FA.

Anonymous said...

Dave the strike wasn't qa complete rout you are right. But, the Chancellor did get most of what she wanted and the 100 or so FA members pay who struck for what five days. So I think she got a very strong victory once all of the facts are evaluated in their proper light. I have one question for you Dave....What damn facuclty union plans a strike right in the Middle of Tenure and Promotion proceedings?

Anonymous said...

Jeepers! BOT wants to save money by layoffs. FA will do it for BOT by striking. Wow! What a win!!

Dave Johnson said...

Re P & T: there's never a good time to strike. That process lasts most of the academic year, in any event.

If you think this was all about money (perhaps because you believe that everything is all about money), then you can reasonably conclude that the FA lost.

I am curious as to how Cheng will be viewed in retrospect. Yes, she held the line on furloughs. She also promised "qualified instructors" and "business as usual", neither of which exactly came to fruition, had a nice little censorship scandal on her watch, and inspired hundreds of students to march in support of the striking faculty. While we on the picket line were cold and tired but enjoyed pretty high morale, folks working on campus during the strike were subject to all sorts of pressure and observation, generating plenty of ill-will, though of course the FA will be blamed by some for much of that. At any rate, I am sure a number of FA members would more than happy to write incredibly strong reference letters on Chancellor Cheng's behalf if she applies for jobs elsewhere.

FA membership will also be interesting to watch. The fact that the DRC just voted 30-0 to recommend the TA is hardly a sign of dissent among activists. We'll have to see how rank and file members react. Normally after a new contract is signed there is a plateau and then a slow erosion of members by percentage as members retire or leave and their replacements aren't motivated enough to join. I'm hopeful that the FA can attract new members going forward, and get to majority membership, but time will tell.

Tobin Grant said...

"If you think this was all about money (perhaps because you believe that everything is all about money), then you can reasonably conclude that the FA lost"

Not everything is about money or property, but everything in a contract (and thus strike) is about money--what faculty will do and what the university will do to compensate them.

The tough thing about any strike--but particularly one at a university--is that we all lose.

Anonymous said...

I think any detailed comparison of the evolution of offers will aver that the FA made great strides in their negotiations, but that all of these gains were made by July, when the administration energetically sought to prevent the strife from entering another fiscal year.

The FA declined to settle then, and the strike added nothing of consequence to what they had already gained; however, it cost the union its credibility and the university a good two or three hundred students (most estimates say between 500-1000).

The IEA on the other hand, gained immeasurably: they successfully instigated the first strike of an institute of higher education in the state of Illinois.

Lose / lose / win.

Anonymous said...

The Dave Johnson post is all the evidence needed to demonstrate the strike was not worth it. Too bad the FA's ideology and grasp for power has seriously injured SIUC in its efforts to attract more students.

Lightsaber said...

Ask the surrounding towns in the region what happened.

Most will say the administration managed to coral power from the FA.

Even if Dave makes good points that proves otherwise, it shows how perception can root as reality. I wish the FA luck. They need it. I have no problem with them per se as a bargaining unit. I feel like some of their leadership needs help. Not you Dave but some of the others.