UIC United Faculty, the UIC faculty union, are set to go on strike Tuesday, January 17th. This page aims to let you know everything you need to know as a graduate worker and student during a faculty strike.
Message from UIC United Faculty to Graduate Workers
The following is the faculty union’s message to graduate workers, detailing the state of their bargaining and what a strike would mean for graduate students:
Why might UICUF faculty decide they have to strike?
We’ve been bargaining with representatives of the employer since April of 2022 to try to reach agreement on issues that impact faculty working conditions, which are, by extension, student learning conditions. Among these have been
Protecting faculty from increased workload, so that we have time to adequately meet student needs for consultation and assure a high-quality classroom experience;
Assuring that all UIC faculty, students, and staff can access sufficient disability and mental health resources;
Assuring that faculty salaries are competitive and are adjusted appropriately to compensate for inflation, so that faculty are able to stay at UIC;
Strengthening job security and assuring adequate minimum compensation for the non-tenure track faculty who teach the majority of courses here.
We have made progress on some of these, but, even as we begin the new semester, the administration has not moved forward on some of the issues we need to resolve.
What can I expect if UICUF goes on strike?
If faculty decide they have no other choice but to strike, this means that they will not be teaching, responding to email, holding office hours, consulting, etc. for the duration of the strike—no work with grad students, grad workers, undergrads, or anyone.
FAQ: What do I do if the faculty go on strike?
The following is GEO’s guidance to graduate workers who work with faculty in the event of a faculty strike.
Q: Can I strike too?
A: Unfortunately, no–even if you’re an instructor of record. Only those represented by United Faculty have the right to strike and the protections that come with it.
Q: What do I do if my classroom/jobsite is on the other side of a picket line?
A: UF recognizes that you may have to cross picket lines since you can’t sympathy strike, but they urge you to do so as little as possible and make up for it by walking their picket lines whenever you’re able.
Q: What if my supervisor goes on strike and I’m not assigned work?
A: That’s fine and shouldn’t be considered a sympathy strike. The hours of work for our positions are averages. You might have less work during the strike if your supervisor doesn’t have work to assign you, but you might have to work a little bit more afterwards to get you back to average.
Q: What if I’m told to do faculty work?
A: There’s an old mantra in the union world: comply now, grieve later. If your department head emails you and says, “We need you to cover for a striking faculty member,” you unfortunately have to comply–if it’s an order. You should clarify whether you’re being ordered to cover the work, and if so, find the best compromise between your conscience and the letter of the law. Additionally, let us know immediately at email@example.com. We have contractual and legal workload protections, and we want to exercise them as much as aggressively as possible.
Q: What about research labs that keep living things alive (or handle other urgent things)?
A: United Faculty is telling their members that if their research involves keeping things alive (or similarly urgent matters) that they should continue to complete these job duties during the strike.
Q: What can I do to support the strike?
A: UF may be asking the UIC community for specific forms of support later on–we’ll be sure to let you know what and when. Right now, there are a few good ways to support. You can send a letter to Chancellor Reyes telling him to settle a fair contract now. You can learn more about the state of bargaining. You can tell your faculty colleagues you support their strike. And when the faculty go on strike, join them on the picket lines! Sign up for a picket shift here!
Q: Can I walk the picket lines?
A: Just in case you didn’t read the last one carefully, yes! Please come on out to the faculty picket lines!
Q: When and where are the pickets?
A: There’ll be pickets 10:00-12:00 and 1:00-3:00 every weekday starting Tuesday, January 17th. There will be picket lines at UH, SES, and the Lecture Centers. Sign up for a picket shift here! There will also be rallies every day at 12:00pm.