Temporary faculty members to vote on representation

By Jami Peterson

NIU’s temporary faculty members will determine Wednesday whether a union becomes their administrative voice.

Full-time faculty members labeled as faculty assistants, instructors and lecturers who hold temporary faculty appointments of 50 percent or more are eligible to vote on unionization on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Altgeld Hall 114A.

If the majority of NIU’s voting faculty members check in favor of a union, the professional bargaining union, University Professionals of Illinois (UPI), will represent them to the administration.

Faculty ineligible to vote include retirees who have been rehired temporarily and those employed only off-campus, at the College of Law or less than two semesters.

Employees who have been offered regular continuing appointments, are employed part-time but are full-time graduate students, whose working conditions are detailed in governmental grants and all other statutorily excluded persons also are ineligible.

Talks of unionizing nontenured faculty members at NIU began in April with a push from UPI and a group of about eight temporary faculty members. The group passed around voting cards and said more than half of NIU’s temporary faculty members were in favor of a union.

The group wanted UPI to offer bargaining support over salary, job security and health benefits. After pushing for a vote all summer, UPI and the group were given the go-ahead from the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board in September.

The board, which was unavailable for comment because of the Columbus Day holiday, scheduled the vote and will oversee its outcome.

Assistant Provost Natalie Clark said NIU currently has about 143 temporary faculty members eligible to vote. If the union wins, UPI and the administration will begin negotiating, she said.

“I would think (UPI) would move very quickly,” she said.

Clark said she hopes all eligible faculty members turn out for the vote.

“Everything I’ve been doing has been directed at getting people to come out and vote,” she said.