Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Message 4/17/12
Message from the Provost – Faculty Unionization Efforts
This is an update to my message of March 23 concerning faculty unionization efforts at UIC.
As you are no doubt aware, the Illinois Appellate Court last month unanimously upheld the university's position that Illinois law prohibits combining tenure-system and non-tenure-system faculty into a single bargaining unit. Since then, there have been several communications from the union, both to the university and to the faculty. There has also been a significant level of one-on-one conversations between union organizers and faculty in an effort to solicit faculty to sign union authorization cards.
In my own view, the issue of whether a union should be certified to become the "exclusive bargaining representative" of the tenure-system and, separately, the non-tenure system faculty, is significant and in fact different for the two groups of faculty. Many faculty, both tenure-system and non-tenure system, have voiced their sincere desire to have an open discussion about the pros and cons of forming bargaining units rather than feeling pressed to sign a card presented to them by a colleague in their office or in many cases in the elevators or hallways. I would advocate for a thoughtful, factual, and thorough dialogue among our faculty about this important issue.
Much of the early conversation regarding the formation of a bargaining unit was based on the need for greater and deeper conversations between faculty and campus administration with regard to shared governance and shared vision for the campus. These are not the sorts of issues that are typically addressed through union negotiations, but rather through the campus Senate, town halls and other, both casual and formal, means of communications. I will follow in a few days with some thoughts on how we might assure such conversations occur in the future.
To help answer questions and address concerns and comments that relate to unionization, the formation of bargaining units and labor negotiations, we have updated the Frequently Asked Questions issued in March and April 2011. The updated FAQ can be found at http://www.uic.edu/depts/oaa/facunion_faq.html on this website. It addresses such issues as whether signing a card can bring in the union without a secret-ballot election, or are visits to the workplace for solicitation by union organizers allowed, etc. If you have further questions or need more information, please contact either me or Steve Katz, Associate Director of Labor and Employee Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org. If appropriate we will post the inquiry and answer to the FAQ site.
Lon S. Kaufman
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost