Senate Executive Committee members on Jan. 14 agreed to set aside time at the Feb. 4 Urbana Academic Senate meeting for a presentation on collective bargaining.
The presentation will feature one speaker supporting a collective bargaining system and one speaker opposed. Both speakers will be given 10 minutes; the presentation will be followed by a 20-minute question-and-answer session.
The meeting will be held as a separate committee-of-the-whole meeting near the end of the regular senate meeting.
SEC officials plan to publicize the presentation through the senate ListServ and expressed hope that the event would be well-attended. The names of the presenters had not been finalized by press time.
Talk of forming a faculty union has intensified locally after the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board in June certified two faculty bargaining units at the UIC campus.
Under Illinois law, a union is recognized if more than half of an organization's employees sign cards expressing interest in forming a union. If that threshold is reached, the union is given the power to bargain for all of the employees, even those who did not sign a card.
In Chicago, the colleges of Medicine, of Dentistry, and of Pharmacy, as well as half-time employees, were excluded from the union.
Union supporters on the Urbana campus say they have been speaking with faculty members to gauge interest in union formation but have not conducted a formal campaign.
The UIC Provost's office has an FAQ available online at: http://www.uic.edu/depts/oaa/faculty/facunionfaq.html.
Sen. John Kindt, a professor emeritus of business administration and the chair of the Faculty and Academic Staff Benefits Committee, reported to senators that the pension discussions at the state level still had not led to a legislative conclusion.
He said there is hope that a solution is broached in the spring session to ensure a "stability of expectations" for current and former employees. The most recent legislative proposal, he said, included a provision that would force retirees to choose between continuing health care benefit rates and cost-of-living adjustments.
Kindt noted a worrisome trend - that some recent university retirees had so little faith in the state's ability to solve the pension problem that they were taking substantially less in overall benefits through lump-sum payouts.
"We're losing good people who are willing to take a hit financially," he said.
Sen. Gay Miller, a professor of pathobiology and the chair of the Educational Policy Committee, reported that last semester's implementation of a Saturday final examination schedule had been successful, according to statistics compiled by the registrar's office.
The need for Saturday exams arose because of a calendaring problem that leaders say will create a similar circumstance again in 2017.
According to the registrar's office, 358 Saturday exams were given and no complaints or requests to change a Saturday test time were registered. In all, 41 students requested to have final exams moved to Saturday.
Miller said that while the Saturday testing period was a positive experience that could be replicated in 2017, some professors did have difficulties reporting grades by the deadline due to a shortened grading period and holiday office-staffing issues.