Union plans to continue election push

By Joelle McGinnis

The Northern Illinois Faculty Union will continue to solicit support for a collective bargaining election, but the union’s main efforts for the next two months will focus on securing adequate higher education funding, University Professionals of Illinois President Mitch Vogel said Tuesday.

Richard Beard, president of the NIU chapter of UPI, said though 40 percent of the faculty contacted has signed cards authorizing the union as the bargaining agent, the union has decided to wait. Only 30 percent of the faculty is needed to sign authorization cards to hold an election.

Vogel said the union has decided to wait until 50.1 percent of the faculty has signed the authorization cards.

The union has not seen a response from 12 of the 52 faculty departments, he said.

“We have to go out and find them, because this means we haven’t done a good enough job publicizing the collective bargaining issue,” said Vogel.

He said the union will circulate the cards until a “unified consensual victory” is acheived, but the bulk of the union’s time for now will be invested in gaining more faculty support by backing a higher education funding increase.

“This is a time for unity—not a time to divide. We plan to escalate the fight to get more money for higher education,” he said.

Vogel said the union first plans to blanket the state with petitions for support “to preserve higher education and provide more funding.”

In addition, the union will “spearhead a rally on the steps of the capitol” in conjunction with the Illinois Student Association for a Day of Action II on April 13, he said.

“We are planning on having the largest public rally in the history of the state. It will even surpass the last October Day of Action, which now is the largest on record,” Vogel said.

The union is in a statewide coalition involving the Coalition for Adequate Revenue (made up of the League of Women Voters, Urban League, Mental Health and UPI), “Invest In The Future” (made up of the UPI, Illinois Student Association and American Federation of State and County Municipal Employees) and “Crisis” (made up of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, State Board of Education and Illinois Federation of Teachers).

The coalition will work for increased funding for higher education.

“During these tough economic times, it is critical that university and faculty are unified both on their own campus and statewide,” he said.

Vogel said whether a tax increase is successful or not, “either way collective bargaining and an agent will be needed to work in unity with the entire faculty.”

If a tax increase for higher education funding fails, “the faculty will need collective bargaining to protect their rights.” If the increase is passed an agent will be needed “to see the faculty gets its fair share of the new money,” he said.