Union starts chapter at NIU, UPI offers assistance to faculty

By Peter Schuh

A union fighting to represent NIU’s tenure-track faculty members has moved into DeKalb.

The University Professionals of Illinois (UPI), headquartered in Chicago, has moved an office into 901 Lucinda Ave., just below the Village Commons Bookstore.

Kevin McKeough, president of UPI’s chapter at NIU, said the professional bargaining union opened its office on Jan. 4 to serve as a local headquarters for the organization.

Mike McNally, field service director for UPI, the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers, said the office will be centered around the NIU professors.

“Basically, it is an office which would allow professors to come in and pick up literature as well as make phone calls and contact people in Springfield about issues that concern them,” he said.

McNally said the organization will attempt to assist NIU in its reaction to the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s Priorities, Quality and Productivity initiative, which calls for the elimination or curtailment of state university programs.

“That will be one of our focal points this semester—to help the university keep from having to cut its programs and maintain its standard of quality,” he said.

In addition, the office will be used by NIU’s temporary faculty members, McNally said. A majority of NIU’s temporary faculty members voted to be represented by UPI last semester.

“The temporary unit will use the office as well, to hold meetings for their members and as a work site,” he said.

The office might also serve as a place for UPI to push NIU’s permanent faculty into unionization.

“If there’s an interest then we will pursue it,” McNally said. “That’s what we’ve been doing now, surveying to see if there is a lot of interest.”