Regents deny claims NIU stalled faculty election

By Jami Peterson

The Board of Regents shot down claims that NIU stalled a temporary faculty election on union representation in order to push the vote in its direction.

An election was approved by the Illinois Labor Relations Board Tuesday.

The vote will determine whether University Professionals of Illinois, a higher education union, bargains with NIU over temporary faculty raises, job security and health benefits.

More than half of NIU’s 400 temporary faculty signed cards last April supporting union representation. However, the ILRB had to approve an official election.

UPI President Mitch Vogel claims NIU and the Regents purposely stalled the election in order to lay off pro-union employees and replace them with anti-union workers.

“Every week (temporary faculty members) are underpaid and denied their rights,” he said.

Hopefully, he said, an election will bring some relief to “these hard-working faculty members.”

However, Regents Assistant Vice Chancellor Steve Cunningham said UPI’s claims are “outrageous,” and an election was held off only until all faculty members could participate.

“We want them (temporary faculty members) all to be on board when we make that decision,” he said. “It is a very important decision.”

Cunningham said NIU did not fire pro-union employees to hire anti-union faculty. “We’re being very careful to make sure nothing like that happens,” he said.

Vogel also claimed temporary faculty members not on a tenure track lack the benefits of regular faculty.

But, Cunningham said, “They (temporary faculty members) receive the same benefits as other faculty.”

He said all temporary faculty members are not fighting for union representation. “It’s simply a matter of some believe a union might be the way to go.”

The ILRB has 30 days to sort out the details of the election.

According to Cunningham, the date of the election probably will be announced next week.