UIC Faculty Strike

By James Anderson

After 18 months of bargaining, University of Illinois Chicago Faculty will be walking the picket lines Tuesday, Feb. 18, and Wednesday, Feb. 19., to pressure the University of Illinois Board of Trustees to bargain in earnest and agree to a fair, equitable contract.

Trustee proposals thus far would short change faculty, students and the University as a whole, the UIC Faculty Union wrote in a press release.

The United Faculty Local 6456 also noted in the press release, regarding circumstances surrounding the struggle for a fair contract, that while administrative positions at UIC have increased 10 percent in the last five years, tenured faculty positions have decreased by one percent.

The UIC United Faculty published details on the strike: the picketing, the rally set for Tuesday at 10 a.m., and a light brigade banner that evening followed by a demonstration at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18 at the UIC Pavilion.

The UIC Graduate Employees Organization, the labor union representing more than 1,400 Graduate and Teaching Assistants at the University of Illinois-Chicago, posted information on how to support the United Faculty strike using social media, including sample Tweets for a “Twitter Storm using the hashtag #UICStrike” Tuesday evening from 7 to 9 p.m.

Lennard Davis, professor of English in the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told GAUnited that people can Like the UIC United Faculty on Facebook and follow #UICStrike on Twitter.

Davis and Walter Benn Michaels, also professor of English at UIC who studies literary and theoretical writing and authored, “The Trouble with Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality,” co-wrote a piece for Jacobin about the impending strike.

In the article, they described some of the developments — and lack thereof — leading to the extant situation:

Historically, the administration of the university was a function of faculty who were chosen to manage the running of departments.  The Dean was Dean of Faculty — chosen by and beholden to the people who actually teach students. But with the bureaucratization of the university and the growth of the university as corporation, deans, provosts, and their myriad vice-provosts have become management. This now-bloated segment of the university makes decisions about the welfare of faculty and students.  A recent study shows that non-faculty jobs have grown by 27 percent while faculty lines remain flat or decreasing.

The term “shared governance” is invoked to disguise this evisceration of power but what it mainly means is that faculty senates can “advise” the administration and the administration can then do whatever it wants. To call shared governance real governance is like saying your dog has an equal say in how your household is run because sometimes when he whines he gets fed.

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James Anderson is a doctoral candidate and the GAU Steward for the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts. His interests include social movements, alternative media, critical theory, prefigurative politics, horizontalidad, political economy and praxis.

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