Membership Meeting Review: organizing and the (lack of a) state budget

Dear UPI – thanks to all who were at the Membership Meeting and everyone please make a note and plan for the next meeting Tuesday, February 21 @ 3:00 in BBH 101.

The loss of faculty and staff has affected our staffing! We will be holding interim elections for the NEIU/UPI Executive Board this semester to fill vacant positions–more info on that soon–and we are planning to revitalize the area representative structure for departments, programs and offices.

Our primary topic of discussion last week was the state budget–what we have to do to help secure one–and that discussion included consideration of the possibility of another round of furloughs at NEIU. I personally think more furlough days would be very bad for the university: for our students and for all of us working to support our students.

Many at the meeting spoke in favor of heightened direct action. And we discussed the tensions between our budget woes and the more collaborative relationship between the union and administration. We expect that the positive new mode of working together will continue as we work through the budget challenges; and we are thankful for the good developments in our relationships. But as we said in the meeting there are of course still disagreements that will arise. There will be some bumps along the way and bumps are okay. We will work through these as the union’s collective will forms and determines our next steps.

We have begun lobbying in our districts and downstate and will further that organizing. At a minimum, NEIU/UPI 4100 will be working in support of a statewide day of action that pulls together the many stakeholders who are being hurt by our governor holding the state’s funding hostage to his anti-union and anti-public school agenda. Members spoke last week about the budget being about more than just UPI and NEIU: the budget battle is about our children’s schools, the support services we and our neighbors rely on, the security of our medical care, the decency of our collective life together.

For those concerned that the “Grand Bargain” on the budget didn’t pass in Springfield, please know it is in the interest of the union and state that it did not. We would have lost bargaining rights and money from our pensions if it had passed. Some of the provisions of the grand bargain would have hurt K-12 schools throughout the state and hurt municipal employees.

Please make every effort to be at the next Membership Meeting on 2/21. We will also have a training session on political mobilization Friday, February 10 at 1:00 in B-152. All are welcomed and we hope to see you! There are big and small ways to serve. Come find the union service that’s right for you.

We’ll begin 2/10 with a quick update on the budget battle and our goals for the coming year.

In solidarity,

sjm