I write to share information about the HWC FAST Fund for our students and ask you to circulate information to raise more money for the FAST Fund for HWC students.

What is the HWC FAST Fund?
First, the FAST Fund seed money ($5,000) was awarded a few weeks ago. Erica McCormack and Kristin Bivens have been working vetting applications and awarding funds with Eric Crabtree-Nelson and his team in the Wellness Center. If you have a student with a financial need, please advise them to send an email to @hwc-wellnesscenter@ccc.edu to start the process of applying for a FAST Fund.

How can I learn more about the FAST Fund?
With Jesu’s permission and support, I have created a microsite within our HWC local 1600 blog: HWC FAST Fund. [If you notice any issues with the microsite, please let me know (off list, please) about those issues.] Also, please consider following us on Twitter @HWCFASTFund

What can I do to contribute?
You can contribute by making a donation or sharing the following message (or a version you would like) on social media:

—–“Want to help HWC students keep learning during the COVID-19 health crisis? Please consider donating to the HWC FAST Fund.”

You can find statements from students on the HWC FAST Fund site. For example,

“It was not just the financial assistance that was given, but the way caring consideration was provided; I did not feel as if my problems were a burden, and I am grateful for the help”

–L.S. @HW_College student and @HWCFASTFund Recipient


“The help provided by the FAST Fund helped my family alleviate the financial pressure, and I definitely will try to pay it forward down the line. I can not thank you enough.”

— R.C. @HW_College student and @HWCFASTFund Recipient

In advance, thanks for all that you do and continue to do for our students.

In solidarity,
–Kristin Marie Bivens


Need Your Feedback on the Academic Freedom Language Proposal


On January 16, the Faculty Negotiation Team, which is comprised of all the chapter chairs and a faculty designee from Olive Harvey, met and discussed a number of issues like:  (1) Loss of Fair Share Language and How to Protect Our Members,  (2) Distribution of Research Tasks (for finances, online learning, and lane and steps), (3) Academic Freedom, and (4) Lanes and Steps.  We discussed at great length whether getting the steps back was possible, and we are working on a favorable proposal.

The Negotiation Team would like your feedback regarding this proposed Academic Freedom language.  What do you think about this proposed language?  Does it capture your concerns with Academic Freedom?  Why or why not?  The more people that offer feedback, the better.

Proposed language:

  1. Academic freedom ensures that the faculty member is entitled to freedom to discuss all relevant matters in the classroom.  He shall have the right to introduce into his teaching all matters related to his subject or the education of his students in that subject.
  2. Academic freedom ensures that within the broad framework of academic freedom affirmed above, the faculty member shall continue to have the individual right and responsibility to determine course content and textbooks subject to applicable written departmental policy and procedure.
  3. Academic freedom ensures that the faculty member is free to research and to publish the results of those investigations, and to pursue and publish all avenues of scholarship and creative expression without institutional discipline or restraint.
  4. Academic freedom ensures that the faculty member is free to speak about any issue of institutional policy or action without institutional discipline or restraint.  Academic freedom also grants faculty members the freedom to speak, without institutional discipline or restraint, to any matter of social, political, economic or other interest to the larger community.

Our current contract language is on page 9 of the Faculty Contract and states the following:

  1.  The faculty member is entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing his subject.  He shall have the right to introduce into his teaching matters related to his subject or the education of his students in that subject.


  1. Within the broad framework of academic freedom affirmed above, the faculty shall continue to have the individual right and responsibility to determine course content and textbooks subject to applicable written departmental and College policy and procedure.

If possible, please send me your responses via email before next Tuesday, January 23, 1p.m. to drmariajestrada@gmail.com, the whole Union list, or in the comments below, so I can tell the Negotiation Team members what you thought about it.  Officers and delegates, please talk to faculty, so they offer their input.

Retirement Information, Spring 2017

Dear Union Sisters and Brothers,

In this article (which is a reprint of the March 7 HWC Local 1600 newsletter, as I promised many of you, I am going to synthesize key retirement information and make important announcements about elections happening right now for local officer positions and the CCCTU leadership positions. There will be a second newsletter this month with more chapter news (like upcoming Contract review sessions) and articles from other contributing writers.

First of all, thank you all who participated in our successful Retirement Workshop held on Tuesday, February 28th. I want to give a special note of gratitude to Brenda Pryor, CCCTU Legal Counsel and Don Radtke, CCCTU Retiree Chapter Chair and former CCCTU Treasurer. They did an excellent job of fielding questions and guiding members through the process, which is not easy. I hope we can have two of these workshops every year, each before union members announce their intent to retire, by March 15 or October 15.

I am adding an early disclaimer, and that is if you want to get the most correct individual information for your case, you have to make an appointment with SURS with a specific representative or make a face-to-face appointment; ask the agent where the monthly face-to-face meetings are being held, which are held in the suburbs. You can call SURS at 1-800-275-7877. Also, you can visit http://surs.com. Decisions regarding retirement should be made by individual members after consulting with SURS for the most up to date information.

As of today, there is new head of benefits, you can email benefits@ccc.edu and carbon copy Sara Nau at laborrelations@ccc.edu. If no one replies, please email me at drmariajestrada@gmail.com. Also, you can try to contact Jane Barnes at District to answer general questions. Here is the information I gleaned from the workshop.

Where can I find a SURS Tradition Plan Member Guide?


When am I eligible to receive a SURS retirement annuity?   When you satisfy any of the following:

  • You are at least age 55 and have 8 or more years of Illinois service (benefits will be reduced for early retirement if you retire between ages 55 and 60)
  • You are at least age 62 and have 5 or more years of service; or
  • At any age when you achieve 30 years of service, provided your covered employment terminated on or after August 2, 2002

 Where can I find information in the Union Contract about retirement?: Faculty Contract, pgs. 21-24 or Professional Contract, pgs. 8-11.

How do I announce my intent to retire? You must write a letter to your department chair or supervisor, local Human Resources, the college President, and District Human Resources.

By when should I announce my intent to retire? October 15 if you wish to retire by fall or March 15 to retire by spring or summer. You should notify the administration as soon as possible, especially in the context of the staffing situation with administration.

Once I write and submit the letter of intent to retire, can I retract that decision? No.

Does any faculty or professional qualify? You must have been employed by CCC for at least 10 years working full-time. In addition, the Enhancement Benefit requires an age of 55 years or older.

 What are the Benefits of Early Retirement? After retirement, you can receive 6 years of Life Insurance and 10 years of Health Insurance for yourself and dependents at the CCCTU Contract rate. After your 10 years, your Health Insurance can be obtained at the full cost from CCC. Continuing with CCC Insurance can help retirees who are not Medicare eligible. If you are Medicare eligible, a Medicare Supplement can be obtained at a lower cost than CCC Insurance coverage.

Can the Union help calculate my pension, enhancement, and/or service credit? No. Every person’s case is unique. You must do the calculations by yourself or use the SURS calculator as an estimate and/or speak to a SURS representative.

How is my SURS Pension Computed? The average of your 4 Highest Consecutive Annual Earnings x 2.2% x Service Credit Years.

How do I maximize my pension?

  • Work as much overtime as possible in your last 4 years so plan your retirement in advance.
  • If you are faculty, retire at the end of summer. A SURS Earnings Year begins on the first day of Fall Semester and the 12 months following. Your last year can be your highest.
  • Apply for your Contractual Enhancement Benefit see below.

Do I have Retirement Benefits in my CCCTU Contract in addition to my SURS pension? Yes, the Early Retirement Program and Retiree Salary Enhancement.

What are the Benefits of the Retiree Salary Enhancement? In your last two years before retirement, you can use some of your sick days to increase your base salary and net pay. In addition, the enhanced salary could increase your SURS Earnings Average.

How do I calculate service credit? Your sick days not used for enhancement can be used as a Service Credit Year for your SURS Pension as follows:

(No sick day payout is allowed passed July 1, 2014)

Unpaid Sick Days:

20 – 59 Days = 1/4 Year

60 – 119 Days = 1/2 Year

120 – 179 Days = 3/4 Year

180 or more Days = 1 Year

How do I compute the enhancement? Your base salary would be increased by 30% of 80% of a maximum 100 sick days for one or two years. Example: 100 sick days x 30% x 80% equals 24 sick days for enhancement. If your annual salary is $90,000 for 36 weeks or 180 days, each day is worth $500 x 24 enhancement days which equals $12,000 added to your base salary giving you more net pay.

Can retirees still receive sick pay out?No. Unfortunately, as of July 1, 2014, that is no longer the case. Sick days are capped at 200.

Will these Contractual Benefits be in the next contract? Maybe

I hope this information is useful. Again, please, contact SURS and make an appointment with a specific agent. If you are retiring, you are also highly encouraged to join the retiree chapter: Contact Don Radtke at dradtke2133@gmail.com. It’s to your benefit to join, as the retiree chapter is on the frontlines, defending everyone’s pension rights.

In Solidarity,

Jesú Estrada, Chapter Chair

Election 2017 Notice

Local Harold Washington College/District and CCCTU Elections

By Dr. Jesú Estrada

Local 1600 Elections for Harold Washington College/District Chapter Officers: Elections for Local 1600 officers are happening this week, Monday through Thursday in room 402, from 9a.m. to 5p.m. Elections will also be held at District this Friday from 9a.m. to noon in the coffee shop seating area. You will see a black ballot box, supervised by Larnell Dunkley, who will be wearing Union swag. There is only one slate running, Resistance Slate; however, you should vote to support the new officers. I am very pleased that a number of new members stepped up to serve, including a District Professional. As far as I know, this is the first time our chapter has run a professional from District. I am incredibly pleased that our chapter continues to be Democratic and inclusive of all Union members, even those from our satellite campus. These chapter elections are separate from the CCCTU elections that are being held via mail.

Cook County College Teachers Union Elections: The election for our union officers is also happening right now. As you know our Union services our City Colleges and seven suburban colleges. The only contested position is that of president; both current President Tony Johnston and Mel Anderson are running. I have sent out their position statements via the Union Google List. I have invited both to come to our campus, and Mel Anderson is coming this Wednesday 3/8 from 2p.m. to 3p.m. in room 1008. Tony will not be able to come this week because he is negotiating a number of suburban contracts, and their negotiation teams are seeking his support (our Union negotiates 23 contracts). On Wednesday, Tony is arguing for the Elect the School Board bill in Springfield.

If you did not get a ballot in the mail, please call IFT representative Mary Smith at 630-468-4080.

Vote, vote, vote!

H.W.C. 10/27 Sanctioned Meeting Room Change, TBA

Dear Union Sisters and Brothers,

There will be an unplanned room change for this Thursday’s Union Meeting at Harold Washington College because our event got bumped for the District Open House. I didn’t get any notification and wasn’t aware until I tried to get the president to sanction it. 😦

The Union meeting is this Thursday, October 27, 2p.m. to 4p.m. Room change TBA, most likely a classroom. (3:30p.m. to 4p.m. individual members issues.)

I will flyer announcement in your boxes with the room change, as soon as I get a room confirmation on Monday and have it sanctioned.

Please, bring a friend.  I will provide a light lunch.  If someone wants to help set up the food, please meet me at 1:30p.m. in the lobby.

Also, we need a volunteer secretary, or else, the minutes won’t be official.  I cannot chair the meeting and take minutes at the same time.

I hope to see many of you there.

In Solidarity,

Dr. Jesú Estrada

Professional Contract Exploration Meeting Notes, 10/21/16

Dear Union Sisters and Brothers,

Because members prefer shorter emails, I am putting meeting minutes here.   I will use Google Docs to issue a blog style email so you can click for more information.

I am trying to keep you informed as best I can with the limited time that I have, and am always open to constructive criticism and support.

To that end, below are the broad minutes for today’s meeting.  We will have another meeting in early November.


H.W. Professional Contract Review Meeting—Oct 21, 2016, 2:00pm


Decisions: Jesú will shorten her emails and use Google Docs with links, so people can click on a longer message.

We will also create a video to discuss Weingarten Rights; that was a side conversation but we are working on making the educational more accessible.

"Union, Every Day"