NTFC Local #6546 sent the following email to its members on July 1, 2015. As always, the Campus Faculty Association stands in solidarity with NTFC Local #6546 and AFSCME as they bargain their contracts.
Dear Members of Local #6546:
Today is the last day of the fiscal year, and by midnight, the Illinois legislature and the Governor are supposed to pass a new budget, which would secure our salaries for the next twelve months. Since the governor and our elected representatives have not been able to come to an agreement, a confusing stalemate exists in Springfield. At the same time, University of Illinois administrators have been largely silent during this emerging political crisis, only reassuring us that the UIUC campus has sufficient cash reserves to keep paying salaries, even if no budget is passed in time.
This lack of transparency from the State has allowed our University’s administration to remain quiet about its fiscal plans and to take a very hard-line stance in its ongoing contract negotiations with four unions at UIUC. Local #6546 presented its very realistic economic proposals in February. We have received no reply or counterproposal and have been told to expect no proposals any time soon.
Similarly, our brothers and sisters in two AFSCME Locals on campus (clerical and technical workers) have negotiated for over a year and have been presented with proposals that would result in frozen salaries for many of their members. On a statewide level, AFSCME Council 31 is negotiating directly with the state government on behalf of 37,000 government workers and is confronted with a similar situation. Most alarmingly, Governor Rauner has proposed to double health insurance premiums and downgrade the insurance plans that these employees—and by extension other government workers, such as ourselves—would receive.
In the coming weeks, we will need to raise our voice ever louder on behalf of faculty and other workers on our campus. Education comes first for us, as it always has. But higher education will never flourish in our state when it is build on stagnant salaries, degraded health care benefits, and the absence of professional opportunities and advancement.
We urge you to join us in our effort to inform members, communicate with newly arrived faculty, and engage in collective bargaining. Join us at our next organizing committee meeting, Thursday, July 15 at 5 PM in the McKinley Foundation or contact us via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out what you can do to help.