March 29, 2011

Faculty Association rejects final SIUC offer

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- After more than 20 bargaining sessions, and two all-day meetings with a federal mediator, the SIUC Faculty Association and the University have unfortunately failed to reach agreement on a successor contract. This state of impasse was reached today (March 29) after a second full day of mediation talks with a federal mediator.

Bargaining with the Faculty Association (FA) began in April 2010. Several months into the negotiation process, the FA issued an initial contract offer to the University. An analysis of the various elements in this offer (salary increases, free tuition and fees for families, free Student Recreation Center access, two years salary as retirement incentive, etc.) indicated that it would cost the University in excess of $20 million. Subsequent bargaining sessions resulted in little movement on either side, and therefore the University requested the assistance of a federal mediator.

During mediation it became clear the parties would not be able to reach a multi-year agreement and therefore the University offered a one-year proposal containing its last, best, and final terms (see details below). After the SIUC Faculty Association rejected that offer as well, the University reiterated its position that the one-year proposal it presented to the Association was indeed the University’s last, best, and final offer for the current fiscal year.

When the FA bargaining team refused to submit the University’s final proposal to its members for a vote, the University replied that it would leave its offer open through April 4, 2011, and reiterated the hope that the Faculty Association would accept the offer. If the FA does not accept and ratify the agreement on or before April 4, 2011, the University will implement the terms of its last, best, and final offer on April 5, 2011. The University also conveyed its willingness to bargain with the Faculty Association for a new successor agreement for fiscal year 2012 and beyond.

Terms of the University’s One-Year Proposal:

  • Grievance/Discipline and Dismissal -- Revisions to the Grievance Article and the Discipline and Dismissal article that were mutually agreed to by the parties.
  • Language changes -- Various language changes that reflect the parties’ discussions since April 2010.
  • Salary freeze -- A one-year salary freeze for the current fiscal year.
  • Furlough Days -- Four furlough days during the current fiscal year that will be mutually scheduled by the faculty member and his or her immediate supervisor, in an effort to minimize disruption on the employee and the academic process.
  • Reductions in Force -- New contract language that establishes a structure and process for reductions in force for future faculty layoffs. Notably, this language preserves the Faculty Association’s right to bargain over the decision to lay off members of their bargaining unit, if reductions in force are contemplated in the future. It should be clear that there will be no layoffs for the remainder of this fiscal year.

FA final demands to reach agreement:

  • Salary Increases -- Guaranteed general salary increases (across the board) for this fiscal year.
  • Longevity pay increases -- Percentage increase for remaining employed at the University. This increase is in addition to increases received for promotions.
  • Equity pay increases and merit increases -- So-called equity and merit pay increases that would ensure that FA salaries increase regardless of whether financial times for the University are bad or good, whether operating costs increase or decrease.
  • Minimum Salaries -- Establishment of new higher minimum salaries for faculty causing increases in some faculty salaries.
  • Furlough Days -- The FA demands undermine savings from furlough days by insistence on guaranteed across-the-board salary increases. They further erode the savings by demanding that members be repaid for the four furlough days.
  • Layoffs -- Tenure/Tenure-Track faculty to be laid off only after all other SIUC employees to be laid off, before any FA bargaining unit member would receive a reduction in force.
  • Summer contracts -- Provision that grants members of the FA bargaining unit the first right to summer contracts over other employees. Moreover, summer contracts to be awarded based on seniority, with summer contracts awarded to the FA member with the higher years of service.
  • Fair share -- This provision would require all non-dues paying employees covered by the contract to pay a fee to FA for representing them. This fee would be equivalent to the dues amount paid by union members.

We regret that we were unable to reach agreement with this group. We hope that the FA will accept our last, best, and final offer. SIUC values our faculty and the contributions that they make to this University. Ultimately, the best interests of the students remain the focus of SIUC.