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Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Message 3/4/2011

Supervisor Conduct during an Organizing Campaign or Prior to Union Election/Certification

Dear Colleagues,

Following up on my e-mail of last evening regarding Faculty Union Organizing Activities, below please find guidelines concerning supervisor conduct during an organizing campaign. Please be sure that all supervisors in your units are familiar with these guidelines. If you have any questions, please contact UIC Director of Labor and Employee Relations Thomas H. Riley, Jr. at 312-355-5510 or Associate Director of Labor and Employee Relations Steve Katz at 312-355-5901.

The Provost’s website will be updated as developments warrant.


Jerry L. Bauman
Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost


Supervisor Conduct during an Organizing Campaign or Prior to Union Election/Certification

I.      What Supervisors Cannot Do Under the Illinois Labor Relations Acts

  1. Promise employees, directly or indirectly, a pay increase, promotion, or any other benefit or special favor if they stay out of the union or vote against it.
  2. Prevent employees from soliciting union membership during their free time on University premises as long as this does not interfere with work being performed by them or others. It is important that departments respond to requests for rooms for union meetings in the same manner as any other requests for meeting rooms for other non-departmental purposes.
  3. Threaten loss of jobs, reduction of income or discontinuance of any privileges or benefits to influence an employee to support or oppose the union. This includes statements to employees that they will suffer adverse consequences if they support or vote for the union.
  4. Ask employees whether they have signed or intend to sign a union card, attend union meetings, vote for the union, etc. This includes asking employees how they think other employees will react to the union.
  5. Call employees into a supervisor's office to discuss the employer's position on unionization, even though nothing coercive or improper is said.
  6. Conduct surveillance of employees to determine whether or not they are participating in union activities.
  7. Discriminate by giving an employee less favorable work assignments, denying a promotion or other benefits, etc., based on an employee's pro-union activities.

II.     What Supervisors Can Do Under the Illinois Labor Relations Acts

  1. Supervisors may listen to information voluntarily provided by employees.
  2. Supervisors may respond to questions and discuss current conditions of employment at the U of I, and how these conditions compare with other universities.
  3. Supervisors are free to rebut any misstatements of fact made by the union.
  4. Supervisors may discuss the cost of union representation, such as payment of dues and fair share requirements, as long as these are "possibilities" and not "threats".
  5. Supervisors may discuss the union card check and election procedures, such as the change in law that allows a union to represent employees with no election.
  6. Supervisors are free to remind employees that the election will be held by secret ballot, conducted by officials of the Illinois Educational labor Relations Board (IElRB).


In summary, one-on-one discussions and small group meetings between supervisors and bargaining unit employees are permissible provided they are not coercive (e.g. requiring the employee to come to the supervisor's office or interrogating the employee about his/her support for the union).