NIU, union prepare to bargain

By Jami Peterson

Although a professional bargaining union won the right in October to represent NIU’s temporary faculty, both NIU and the union are still preparing to take their seats at the bargaining table.

A majority of NIU’s temporary faculty voted to allow the University Professionals of Illinois (UPI) represent them to the administration, and the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board has officially certified the union.

However, no bargaining has begun.

A letter has been sent from the NIU Temporary Faculty Council of UPI to the Board of Regents requesting a meeting to begin collective bargaining any day from Dec. 15-18.

Neither NIU nor UPI, however, have setup official bargaining teams of representatives, and the dates have not been verified to start the process.

Steve Cunningham, Board of Regents assistant vice chancellor for personnel administration, said the Regents’ team probably will be made up of himself and other members on NIU’s campus who are familiar with the bargaining process.

“We’ll probably get started sometime in the near future,” he said. “We will proceed then to negotiate an agreement. It will take awhile.”

NIU Assistant Provost Natalie Clark said she has not heard any word about setting a bargaining date. “Both the union and the university are deciding who will represent them on the bargaining table,” she said.

Although UPI President Mitch Vogel was unavailable for comment, his assistant Barbara Scott said UPI plans on getting down to bargaining in December.

“They (UPI representatives to NIU) have basically established their team,” she said. “They’re completing the information to prepare a contract.

Physical education instructor Sandy Flood said she probably will become one of UPI’s representatives at NIU. Flood has been fighting for UPI representation with about eight other temporary faculty members since last spring.

“We really are just kind of hanging in limbo here,” she said. “Nothing has been established yet.”