Update from our 9.13 bargaining session

Dear Colleagues,

First, heartfelt thanks to everyone who came to our bargaining session last week! Your support for the bargaining team and contribution of information about your own experiences was very useful. We drew great strength from the multiplicity of the voices in the room.
For those who could not attend, the two major topics discussed were immigration and workload.

As to the first, there is broad agreement on both sides that immigration status should not matter in the university’s retention of teaching faculty, and that sometimes in fact it does matter. The union requested that the administration present a counter to our proposed article, and the administration emphasized the need for research with people specialized in this area to understand the complexities.

With respect to workload, we had a long and inconclusive discussion (both the administration and the union have articles on the table, presented simultaneously, and neither has presented a counter proposal to the other). In essence the administration maintained that 9 courses per year is a long-standing, default metric for full-time work, although there are very wide variations in practice within the university. Those on the union side of the room steadfastly maintained that 6 courses a year should be a ceiling for full-timers, and that this load has important consequences for part-time positions also.

There was some agreement that it is difficult to discuss the topic apart from the related topic (and article) concerning duties. The union summarized the outstanding differences as centering on the administration’s assertion of sole discretion to establish individual workload (up to 9 courses per year), and on the specific number of 9.

In addition to these discussions we were able to raise with the administration matters affecting two individual unit members and to obtain some relief for each.
We want to hear what’s going on with your job and in your department so we are fully informed and can best represent everyone’s interests. Recently, the administration has been inserting new language into appointment letters with increased course load and other changes, so please talk to us about any changes in your work duties or anything else before agreeing to them.

Keep in touch by contacting any of the committee members listed below.
Going forward, we will discuss workload again, in the context of counter proposals to what is on the table. We will also finalize related articles concerning duties, appointments, and performance reviews. Then we will need to finish a few routine matters before moving on to economics. All of these issues are crucial for full-time and for part-time members. Both in matters of workload and in economics your support will be our strength! Please stay in touch with us, bring us your questions, and attend as many bargaining sessions as you can (these are scheduled for 10/6, 10/27, 11/17, and 12/8—the last is tentative and 11/17 is for 9:00 – 1:00, otherwise the sessions are 9:00 – 5:00).

RSVP for the 10/6 session here. For more opportunities to be active in your union, please attend the Campus Organizing meet and greet at the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, 5733 S University Ave on 9/20 from 2:30 to 4:30, and try to stop and talk to other faculty at the 9.26 Activist Fair on the Main Quad from 11am – 2pm.

Here are some quotes from some of our colleagues who attended last week’s session:

“These bargaining sessions were my chance to educate our administration. They seemed surprised to learn that lecturers in my department not only routinely direct and advise theses, both graduate and undergraduate, but also advise majors and minors while serving on search, curriculum, and programming committees all while publishing or perishing. We’re faculty and we deserve to be called faculty, and to be treated as faculty.” – Dan Raeburn, Lecturer, Creative Writing

“I have taught [at UChicago] for nine years, and I felt for the first time, my voice was heard. University of Chicago [is complex] and the Union is a necessary platform for lecturers to negotiate terms with the University to make it work for both sides. This is an ongoing process and I hope more lecturers will participate actively in meetings and speak out for themselves. It is the time to revisit old rules, long standing policies, keep the conversation open, and make changes. I strongly believe that it will improve the learning environment in the University of Chicago.” – Mandira Bhaduri, Lecturer in SALC

“As [a UChicago] alum and now a full-time faculty member, I can speak from both sides. As students, we were always told (by admin, counselors, and faculty) that we were the ‘cream of the crop,’ [but] if the students are the cream of the crop, then doesn’t that mean the faculty are the creamiest of the crop? If they’re equipped to teach the best and the brightest, then the university policies toward them, tenured or untenured, should reflect their value. [The] administration’s proposed policies (namely, the 9 course teaching requirement) is incongruous with the ethos of UChicago that I had admired as a student.” -Ling Ma, Lecturer in Creative Writing

“I think everyone should take the time to go to at least one meeting. After that, they might find themselves hooked as I did. Hearing the administration’s perspective made me realize how important it is for us to articulate our point of view. I believe it will be critical for more of us to tell our stories in the days to come.” –Angelina Ilieva, Lecturer, Slavic

Your Bargaining Team,

Stuart Creason
Lecturer, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

Jason Grunebaum
Senior lecturer, South Asian Languages and Civilizations

Esmael Haddidian
Lecturer, Biological Sciences Collegiate Division

Kay Heikkinen
Lecturer, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

Dmitry Kondrashov
Senior lecturer, Biological Sciences Collegiate Division

Darcy Lear
Part-time lecturer, Romance Languages and Literatures

Photo: Bargaining team, attending members, and lead negotiator, Larry Alcoff
9.13 Bargaining group edited

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