Nontenure-Track Faculty Union: 2-day UI strike starts Tuesday

Nontenure-Track Faculty Union: 2-day UI strike starts Tuesday

URBANA — Nontenure-track faculty members at the University of Illinois plan to walk out of classes for two days starting Tuesday, according to union officials.

The Nontenure-Track Faculty Coalition Local 6546 has called for a two-day strike starting Tuesday. The news was announced to members in a Facebook post around 12:30 p.m. Monday.

Pickets will be set up around the English Building on the UI’s Main Quad starting at 7:45 a.m. and will continue all day, concluding with a 5 p.m. rally at the Swanlund Administration Building.

“This is our chance to show our united strength and value on our campus,” Christina De Angelo, chair of the union’s strike committee and an instructor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, said in the Facebook post.

The Nontenure-Track Faculty Coalition Local 6546 represents almost 500 lecturers, researchers and other faculty members who are not part of the tenure system, though not all have joined the union.

It’s unclear how many classes will be affected by the walkout. About 400 nontenure-track faculty hold teaching jobs, according to the UI.

The union is trying to settle its first contract with the UI; negotiations began in October 2014.

Classes were held as scheduled Monday.

Union members authorized a limited job action during a strike vote in early April. Union leaders have said they will not call for more serious measures — such as an extended walkout or withholding grades — without returning to the membership.

The union is asking for two-year-contracts after five years of service, and three-year contracts after 10 years, as well as regular evaluations, opportunities for promotions and a role in shared governance. The provost’s office has procedures in place for multi-year contracts, but the union wants them built into a contract. The faculty role in shared governance is outlined in university statutes and related policies.

“Most members have temporary, nine-month contracts, and they’ve been considered temporary for decades,” said Dennis Dullea, English lecturer and vice president of NTFC, in a news release. “By agreeing to multiyear contracts, stability will substitute for faculty members’ annual anxiety over whether they will be employed in the fall, and they can focus on teaching and preparing their courses.”

“We have continually asked for support for our teaching, such as having a fair evaluation system outlined in our contract so that we can see our teaching strengths and learn where we need to grow," said  De Angelo. "This is how we can constantly improve our instruction and improve student outcomes.”

The two sides called in a mediator in March. Four more negotiating sessions are scheduled this spring, with the next on April 27.

Less than three weeks of classes remain in the spring semester. The last day of classes is May 4 and finals begin May 6. 

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byrdslover wrote on April 18, 2016 at 1:04 pm

Good for them.  The University has left them no choice since it has dragged its feet for two years in negotiating a contract.  The same thing happened with the janitorial staff.  They had to strike to finally get the University to get serious and propose a contract.  This seems to be the only way to get the University to act.

Lostinspace wrote on April 18, 2016 at 2:04 pm

"It’s unclear how many classes will be affected by the walkout."

Really?  With all those bean counters, they can't identify which classes are taught by NTTF?  They should also be able to say how many students are in those classes.  Wouldn't look good, though.  And that doesn't include classes taught by TAs.

C in Champaign wrote on April 18, 2016 at 4:04 pm

It is unclear because neither the union, or the University really knows how strong the union's support is. There is a significant number of people (NTTF's) the union claims to represent that have little interest in being a member of, represented by, or paying dues to a union, and that group is unlikely to participate in the strike. Hence, they don't know how many classes will ultimately be affected.

BruckJr wrote on April 18, 2016 at 4:04 pm

Remember when your kids were two and didn't want to eat their peas so they'd pitch a tantrum?  There are literally thousands of folks who would love to have these English or Spanish positions.  If you don't want to do the work please step aside and let others have the opportunity.  The students deserve instructors who want to help them.

Lostinspace wrote on April 18, 2016 at 5:04 pm

Businesses can organize in order to exploit workers, but workers cannot organize to resist exploitation.  Milk of human kindness there.