October vote scheduled for NIU temporary faculty

By Kevin Lyons

An official vote will be taken on Oct. 14 to decide whether approximately 400 NIU temporary faculty will have union representation.

Talks of unionizing non-tenured faculty at NIU have been taking place since April when the University Professionals of Illinois brought the notion to the Board of Regents.

According to UPI President Mitch Vogel, more than half of NIU’s temporary faculty signed cards requesting union representation. He said he believes the October vote will be in UPI’s favor based on that response.

“We’re confident that the majority of faculty will finally have the representation they want and deserve,” Vogel said.

The official October vote became necessary when the BOR failed to voluntarily adopt the UPI request.

If the majority of temporary faculty request union representation, the request will be subject to the approval of the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board.

“It’s a very important election,” George Shur, NIU legal counsel said. “It will define how the temporary faculty and administration will relate to each other.”

Shur said an ad hoc committee was formed last November, which has largely been dealing with temporary faculty concerns. The Committee to Review Faculty Rank and Structure has been operating since March, he said.

The committee was formed early this year in response to some concerns from temporary faculty members which were brought to the provost’s office last December.

One tangible outcome from the committee was realized in August. The committee recommended that temporary faculty share any pay increase that tenured faculty receive.

This year’s faculty pay raise was shared by permanent and temporary faculty, Shur said.

Shur said that whether temporary faculty concerns come from the committee or a collective bargaining process, they will be addressed by the administration.