Union verifies faculty vote, prepares negotiation terms

By Jami Peterson

The official starting bell has rung and NIU’s temporary faculty union is ready to take off.

The Illinois Education Labor Relations Board (IELRB) released its letter of verification Monday to the University Professionals of Illinois (UPI) and NIU’s administration.

The letter certifies the results of an Oct. 14 vote in which the majority of NIU’s voting temporary faculty members authorized UPI to represent them.

“It’s now up to the parties where they go with this,” said IELRB Executive Secretary John Albrecht.

UPI President Mitch Vogel said he plans to meet with his executive board on Friday to organize a committee which will begin negotiating union terms.

“We anticipate negotiating early, and negotiating a contract which will serve as a model for nontenured faculty members across the country,” he said. “We expect the university will cooperate.”

Vogel said UPI will be sending out letters to NIU’s temporary faculty members to hear their concerns before negotiating a new contract.

“Our contract will be a democratic one,” he said.

NIU Legal Counsel George Shur said UPI has become the exclusive bargaining agent for all of NIU’s temporary faculty members.

However, the decision to join the union and pay its dues lies in the hands of each faculty member, he said.

If a faculty member chooses not to join the union, the union can require the faculty member to pay a “fair share,” he said.

Shur said this “fair share” usually amounts to about 91 percent of union dues.

According to UPI, more than half of NIU’s temporary faculty members signed cards requesting union representation last April. UPI and a group of faculty members pushed for an election all summer, and IELRB scheduled a vote in August.

UPI won by a vote of 68 to 40, which made up about 80 percent of the faculty members allowed to vote in the election.