Day 2 of NTFC Local 6546's second strike. (Read about Day 1 with backstory here.)
It's the fourth day we've set up and maintained a picket line, but this part was new: it was the first time we've done all of that while our bargaining team was simultaneously in a mediation session on the other end of campus.
We seem to be part of a nationwide trend towards these kinds of things. FWIW, here's some of what we have learned:
1. Bags of cough drops ready to hand are key.
2. Supporters bring doughnuts. There has been no shortage of doughnuts (thanks everybody!)
3. Early choir/chorus training sticks with you. Pushing chants out from the lungs, not the mouth, and using your chest voice helps preserve the throat.
4. Feet hurt more when you stop walking.
5. Pushing fliers on people who don't want them doesn't pay. Seizing on a momentary hesitation to start a conversation does.
6. Solidarity is a long game.
7. A strike has many moving parts. Everyone will find one that requires his or her particular strengths. But anyone can help fill out a picket line.
8. Drumming is hard on plastic buckets and water cooler bottles. Get a lot of them.
9. It's really hard to deliver information in easy-to-remember words set to 4/4 time. Just make noise.
10. Keep all this stuff in mind for when you need to put in a few hours on someone else's picket line.
11. Only time will dislodge the strike chants from your brain.
We had some friends on hand from upstate. We also had a May Day rally, which had been planned by others independent of our labor action, but nonetheless expanded to be a rally for us, too:
And then two more unprecedented things happened. First, there was meaningful movement from the administration team several minor things and one key issue (a real key issue): reappointment. Second: the administration team agreed to come back at 9:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning (tomorrow!) to continue negotiations. That may not seem like a big deal, unless you lived through the year plus when they insisted on three weeks (or more) between bargaining sessions and still showed up unprepared.Solidarity is in the air at the May Day rally/NTFC strike! @ntfclocal6546 #FairContractNow pic.twitter.com/0sUBoWQZhn— United Academics (@UAChicago) April 29, 2016
We are hopeful. But also prepared to have hopes dashed. I'm pretty sure this is all new territory for everyone concerned, and it's hard to know how things will go.
What can you do, dear reader?
I'm guessing neither Acting Chancellor Barb Wilson nor Interim Provost Feser will be taking calls at work or reading work email between now (Friday evening) and the end of bargaining tomorrow (Saturday)--though a voicemail or email certainly couldn't hurt (see corrected contact info below).
More important is to be ready for another strike day on Monday: be prepared to come show your solidarity on the picket line on campus, if that's possible for you. If you can't, or you're far away, continue letting our administrators know, from the moment they arrive in the office around 8:30am Central Time on Monday, what you think about continued stalling on our contract. I'll be back here over the weekend if there's news one way or the other.
Contact Info for UIUC administrators
(My apologies for the incorrect email for our provost in my previous two blog posts. The correct email address is here.)
Interim Provost Ed Feser: 217-333-6677; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Acting Chancellor Barb Wilson: 217-333-6290; email@example.com.
Ask them to bring this labor action to an end by urging the administration bargaining team to agree to a fair contract (like the one the U of I administration signed with NTT faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago).