Fight for union continues

By Mark Mazzone

The fight for unionization continued Thursday during an informal meeting held by a professional union and some NIU faculty members.

Mitch Vogel, president of the University Professionals of Illinois (UPI), responded to allegations of giving misinformation to faculty in an attempt to promote unionization. He also challenged Natalie Clark, assistant provost for personnel, to an organized debate to clear up any misunderstandings.

“I would be willing to debate her even though she is an attorney, any time, anywhere,” Vogel said.

The challenge came in response to a memo that included iformation which conflicted with a flier UPI distributed to faculty members.

“I would really appreciate it if she would stop spreading half truths and distortions,” Vogel said. “I would hope we could keep the disagreements that we have amongst ourselves.”

Vogel said the majority of university professors have collective bargaining through the American Federation of Teachers and in Illinois, the five Board of Governors universities and Sangamon State University have collective bargaining.

“Northern might be more of an abhorration than a rule,” Vogel said.

Vogel said he disagreed with a passage in the Clark memo stating that NIU faculty members received a 4.9 percent increase in pay for fiscal year 1992.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people on campus. No one got a (4.9) percent raise,” Vogel said.

Additionally, he said there are issues as or more important than pay increases for faculty.

“The major crisis is not low salaries. The major crisis is the exterior opposition of those outside the university,” Vogel said, referring to the controversial attempt by the Illinois Board of Higher Education to streamline education.

“We’ve done a good job of looking at it with our own eyes. We don’t need insurance executives looking at (higher education),” Vogel said.

While Vogel declined to comment on the number of faculty who signed the attendance sheet during the gathering, he did say UPI has received cards from more than 100 faculty members making UPI “their exclusive collective bargaining agent.”

There were 16 faculty members present at the time of Vogel’s talk.

“I’m not looking for a scapegoat,” said Professor of Sociology Fred Seymour. “I’m looking for better support for higher education.”

“Times are difficult for universities. It is going to come down on the faculty,” said Professor of Public Administration Irene Rubin. “We have to defend ourselves.”