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Message 9/19/11

Message from the Provost – Faculty Unionization Efforts

Dear Colleagues,

I write with another update on faculty unionization efforts at UIC.

Last Thursday, the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board voted in favor of a single bargaining unit proposed by the UIC United Faculty that would combine tenure system and non-tenure system faculty (excluding the Colleges of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmacy). On Friday, the University exercised its right under Illinois law and filed an appeal of the IELRB ruling with the Illinois Appellate Court.

As previously explained, the University is not trying to deprive faculty of the right to organize for collective bargaining purposes. The University has a long history of negotiations with unions representing various categories of our employees. That said, the University will not voluntarily recognize a bargaining unit which the University believes is contrary to the law and has conflicting interests. Tenured and tenure-track faculty have unique rights, roles and responsibilities distinct from non-tenure system faculty. This is not to minimize the important role that all of our faculty have in carrying out our missions and providing a high-quality education for our students.

The labor board's decision last week was 3-1, with one abstention. In her dissent, Chairman Lynne O. Sered said state law is "clear on its face" that a bargaining unit combining tenure-system and non-tenure track faculty at UIC is prohibited. The University agrees with Chairman Sered's opinion and will be asserting her points, among others, as part of our appeal. The full labor board decision, along with previous Provost messages to the campus, legal filings and other materials, can be found at http://www.uic.edu/depts/oaa/facunionmessages.html.

While it has not been my practice to respond to every communication from the union in every forum, I have taken note of a few postings in recent days which in my view misrepresent the role that a faculty union might play at UIC. Issues relating to shared governance are not mandatory subjects of bargaining. The collective bargaining statutes in Illinois provide that employers are not required to bargain over matters of inherent managerial policy, including budget, organizational structure, and selection and direction of employees. Instead, the law requires negotiation of wages, hours and conditions of employment for members of the bargaining unit.

I will continue to update you as developments warrant.

Sincerely,

Lon S. Kaufman
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost