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Message 9/1/11

Message from the Provost – Faculty Unionization Efforts

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you had a good summer and an easy start to the Fall semester. For those of you who are returning to campus as well as faculty who are new to our community, I write with a brief update regarding the faculty unionization process and developments that occurred over the summer.

As most of you are aware, last April the UIC United Faculty (AFT-IFT, AAUP) submitted a petition to be certified to represent a bargaining unit consisting of both tenure-system and non-tenure system faculty at UIC (excluding the Colleges of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmacy) holding appointments of greater than 50 percent. The university believes that state law is clear that the tenure system and non-tenure system faculty must be in separate bargaining units. Non-tenure system faculty were formerly mentioned in the laws defining appropriate university bargaining units, but in 2003 the General Assembly amended the statute and removed the reference to non-tenure system faculty. This legislation also voided any earlier rules, decisions, or regulations to the contrary.

Last month, an administrative law judge issued a recommended decision that a bargaining unit should be certified as the union has proposed. The judge's recommended decision now goes to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, which is scheduled to review the issue on Sept. 15. The IELRB would then issue a ruling. Either party would then have the right to apply for and obtain judicial review of any order issued by the board. This is all part of the statutory process for determining bargaining units for public educational employees in Illinois.

Please be certain that the university is not attempting to deprive faculty, either tenure or non-tenure system, of the right to organize, nor is UIC anti-union - we have 19 bargaining units on our campus. Please also be aware that there are faculty who may disagree with a single bargaining unit and they too have the right to representation throughout this process. We do believe that faculty organizing must be done in a manner that is legally allowable, and it is incumbent upon us to allow the legal process to play itself out lest we find ourselves in litigation down the road.

For the record, President Hogan did in fact respond to the request for conversation with the faculty representing UIC United. He correctly indicated that he (and by inference any member of the administration) would be happy to meet with faculty, alone or in groups, as we do now on a regular basis (e.g. Senate meetings, College and unit faculty meetings, etc.) to hear their individual or common concerns. At this point, it would be premature to engage in discussion with faculty who enter the conversation claiming to be a representative of, or to speak on behalf of the UIC faculty via their association with, UIC United.

More background on this issue can be found on this page. I will continue to keep you updated as developments occur.

My best wishes for a productive semester.

Sincerely,

Lon S. Kaufman
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost