FAQ

Organizing a Union with the IEA/NEAweb-pic-chas-group

* Collective Bargaining in Illinois Public Higher Education Universities

* Our rights under the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (ILERA)

* About the ISU Faculty Association-IEA/NEA

 

  1. In general, what are the benefits of organizing a tenure-line faculty union at ISU?
  2. By organizing, what kind of union will we have?
  3. What are the rights and protections under the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (IELRA)?
  4. Does the IELRA protect us from retaliation for organizing?
  5. What is the right to representation?
  6. What does the term “represented group” mean?
  7. Will the union replace the Academic Senate, or other components of shared governance?
  8. Is union membership mandatory and what does it cost?
  9. What is Fair Share?
  10. What do our dues dollars get us?
  11. How and when might dues be increased?
  12. Upon securing collective bargaining representation, can the University take away any of our current benefits?
  13. Will the question of an ISU faculty union decided on by a vote?
  14. Our state is in a budget crisis. How does affiliation with the Illinois Education Association enhance our voice around the common interests of ISU faculty, other ISU employees, and our students?
  15. What might we expect from our employer in response to a union organizing effort at ISU?
  16. How does creating a union enhance positive relationships between represented faculty and our employer?
  17. How does IEA/NEA union affiliation differ from American Association of University Professors (AAUP) affiliation?

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 1. In general, what are the benefits of organizing a tenure-line faculty union at ISU?

  • A union will work together with the ISU administration to face challenges from Springfield. The combined strength of our union and our administration will increase the pressure on state legislators to support higher education, attend to the needs of faculty, staff, and students, and maintain ISU as an outstanding learning community.
  • Establishing a union will give us decision-making power regarding the terms of our employment. When ISU is forced to make hard choices, its faculty need to be at the table.
  • Collective bargaining through a union secures mutually agreed-upon decisions that cannot be changed unilaterally. Our rights are clearly defined and due process — e.g., a grievance procedure ending in binding arbitration — will help to resolve disputes quickly and help to clarify, both for ourselves and for the administration, the need for mutual respect and equitable treatment.
  • A union provides an additional level of grievance procedures and protections for pre- and post-tenure review processes
  • A union will provide us with the resources, expertise and assistance of the IEA/NEA, including organizational, leadership and representative training, IEA/NEA Research resources, expert legal assistance, and advocacy at the state level.
  • A union will guarantee us all rights and protections of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (IELRA).

2. By organizing, what kind of union will we have?

The ISU Faculty Association will be chartered as an autonomous local union affiliated with IEA/NEA. This means that members will draft, modify and adopt bylaws to govern our local and elect officers accordingly. This will replace any interim campaign structure. We will maintain a local treasury. All policies regarding the direction of our local will be determined in a democratic manner. IEA will provide our local with professional and legal resources needed to be an effective organization, but we will decide policies and goals for our local.

3. What are the rights and protections under the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (IELRA)?

First, with no union is in place, as is currently the case, our administration has the authority to make decisions related to our employment. The scope of our voice in the governance of the university is ultimately determined by our administration.

With a union, the IELRA will limit the administration’s rights to make decisions unilaterally. Under the Act, our administrators will be required to bargain in good faith and in a timely manner with our representatives regarding all decisions concerning salary, benefits, and working conditions.

4.  Does the IELRA protect us from retaliation for organizing?

We will be fully protected in the exercise of our rights to organize. Acts of harassment, coercion and intimidation are violations of state law and constitute an unfair labor practice. The IEA will provide us the legal services necessary to ensure that this law is followed.

5. What is the right to representation?

By organizing, we have a right to representation in all meetings with an administrator that could possibly result in any adverse action. We have someone to help us when needed and will have a contract providing basic employment rights – to which we can hold the employer accountable. Non-unionized employees are “at will” and do not enjoy union representation rights.

6. What does the term “represented group” mean?

Once certified, the Faculty Association will represent 700+ faculty on the ISU campus. This would likely include the Academic Colleges: College of Applied Science and Technology; College of Arts and Sciences; College of Business; College of Education; College of Fine Arts; Mennonite College of Nursing; and Milner Library.

7. Will the union replace the Academic Senate, or other components of shared governance?

No. On the one hand, the Faculty Association will have an equal decision making role on employment-related matters (salaries, benefits, terms and conditions of employment). The Academic Senate and other entities of shared governance in traditional areas of academic concern will continue in academic matters, such as curricula, degree requirements, etc.  See this chart showing how governance bodies and faculty unions co-exist.

8. Is union membership mandatory and what does it cost?

ISU FA IEA/NEA membership is voluntary. Only members can nominate, stand for election, and serve as officers, serve on committees – and only members will be able to vote to ratify tentatively-agreed to collective bargaining agreements. However, the union has a duty to represent all Faculty in the bargaining unit, whether or not they are members.

ISU FA Dues: Approx. $685 (full Academic Year)

Dues won’t begin until after we secure bargaining rights and begin bargaining a contract, i.e., members will likely pay approx. approximately $370 the first membership year. The following membership year would begin the full year dues amount.

 Please note:

  • The above amount would include local annual membership dues – typically $25 or the amount as proposed and approved by the membership.
  • Members belong to the ISU Faculty Association, the Illinois Education Association, and the National Education Association.
  • There are no initiation fees or other expenses to members.
  • The above amount covers all IEA/NEA services, including legal assistance.
  • The IEA dues amount includes a $30 annual Illinois Political Action Committee for Education (IPACE)
  • IPACE bases support for candidates on public education issues only, regardless of political party affiliation.
  • The IPACE fee will be refunded upon request.
  • Our annual total association dues are tax deductible when we choose to itemize deductions on our returns

 9. What is Fair Share?

State law requires the union to represent members and non-members alike. In turn, the union can bargain a Fair Share clause in the contract which requires non-members to pay a Fair Share fee, a substantial portion of what members pay in dues (those services related only to the cost of representation). Fair Share is not automatic. It must be agreed upon in negotiations between the union and the employer.

10. What do our dues dollars get us?

A few of the major benefits are:

  • Professional assistance with contract negotiations and contract enforcement;
  • Expense paid legal services for job-related problems; this can include immigration issues confronting foreign-born faculty
  • Full voting privileges in the ISU Faculty Association;
  • $1,000,000 liability insurance protection;
  • Up to $50,000 accidental death/dismemberment insurance;
  • Individual assistance and advice when you need help;
  • The Attorney-Referral program, which includes an hour of free consultation for non job-related matters;
  • Access to NEA Membership Benefits (including offers on discounted programs and products should you choose to avail ourselves of any of them, e.g. insurance discounts and the like)

11. How and when might dues be increased?

IEA dues (the state level portion of annual dues) can only be raised by a 2/3 vote of local association delegates (all dues-paying members) elected to the annual IEA Representative Assembly.

Likewise, it takes a 2/3 vote of the elected delegates at the annual NEA Representative Assembly to raise NEA dues (the national level portion of annual dues)

The local will set Local Association dues in accordance with its bylaws as ratified (see FAQ ISU FA Dues above).

12. Upon securing collective bargaining representation, can the University take away any of our current benefits?

Our Association will legally challenge any employer effort to unilaterally change any current working conditions or policies subject to bargaining. With union representation, all matters related to salaries, hours and the terms and conditions of employment are mandatory subjects of bargaining and must remain intact. Any change in the status quo in these areas must be negotiated by and ratified by the membership.

13. Will the question of an ISU faculty union decided on by a vote?

Faculty Association supporters will sign membership forms rather than cast ballots.  There will effectively be a voting process; it just won’t be held as a single ballot on a single day.  All faculty proposed to be represented shall fully discuss the question with Faculty Association representatives and colleagues, and then decide whether to sign and have the faculty union represent them. This process ensures that a majority of all faculty in the represented group elect to be represented. This will be more labor-intensive than holding a vote, and so it will take months – rather than a campaign of a few weeks or so.  This process requires more involvement by more faculty than in a vote, where 100% participation cannot be guaranteed.

14. Our state is in a budget crisis. How does affiliation with the Illinois Education Association enhance our voice around common interests of ISU faculty, other ISU employees, and our students?

 Various groups in which IEA is a partner are voicing support in Springfield for better higher education funding, preserving our constitutionally protected pension system, addressing the crisis in health care premiums, and other issues of concern to our members.  Support for students qualified to receive assistance in pursuing their education is also a high priority.

 They include:

The Illinois Coalition to Invest in Higher Education

Comprised of representatives from Illinois colleges, universities, and public sector unions, this coalition is working together to achieve full funding from the state for higher education.  This group is careful not to call out specific legislators or the governor lest any funding be lost in pursuit of full funding.  See:  http://progressillinois.com/category/tags/illinois-coalition-invest-higher-education  and http://progressillinois.com/news/content/2016/01/20/new-coalition-presses-state-action-higher-education-funding

 Fund Our Future/Illinois

This coalition of education, labor, and non-profit organizations not fazed by negative reactions from legislators or the governor and, in fact, does target specific legislators and the governor for not providing full funding for MAP grants and Higher Education budget lines.  Common goals include improving student success, ensuring higher education affordability, and enhance our institutions’ ability to attract and retain the best faculty and staff available.

A ‘Fund Our Future’ Call to Action!

Last fiscal year this coalition delivered approx. 20,000 postcards to the governor’s office demanding the state fund MAP grants; contact IEA Higher Education Director Michael McDermott (800/462-6213) for more information on activities to hold our state accountable.  See: http://tspr.org/post/funding-higher-education-funding-illinois-future#stream/0

 We Are One Illinois

This is the coalition of public employee unions that successfully sued to state and secured the state Supreme Court ruling that reaffirms our constitutionally–protected rights to our pension as promised!  The fight continues as firefighters, educators, police, disability caregivers and other public employees remain in danger of losing the pensions they have contributed to throughout their years of service.  See: http://www.weareoneillinois.org/  and https://www.facebook.com/WeAreOneIL/?ref=page_internal

15. What might we expect from our employer in response to a union organizing effort at ISU?

  • There is often newly expressed or renewed concern from employers that may include invites for increased input, raises, etc. State labor law prohibits an employer from offering rewards or threats in reaction to an organizing campaign.  Employers can express opinions questioning the need for a union.
  • Rarely does an employer remain neutral on the matter. This was not the case in a previous effort to organize at ISU.
  • Standard employer FAQs on Unionization often contain the specter of lost shared governance, if not shared governance structures altogether, or the “the union” as an external group whose priorities or goals supplant those of faculty.
  • It is best when employers simply encourage faculty to make an informed choice. The ISU Faculty Association shall enable that with accurate and relevant information about benefits of organizing and the democratic process through which a union may be established.

16. How does creating a union enhance positive relationships between represented faculty and our employer?

Contractual initiatives that normalize faculty union and administration communication in between contract negotiation years are standard to most collective bargaining agreements.  A Union/University Communication Committee ensures regular contact between contract years, to coordinate on common goals (e.g., efforts in Springfield) and efforts to resolve local issues or concerns as they arise, to avoid whenever possible more formal grievance and arbitration processes.

17. How does ISU Faculty Association membership and IEA/NEA affiliation differ from that of AAUP, the American Association of University Professors?

In many states, the AAUP supports and provides official union representation through collective bargaining.  Such is not the case at ISU, where the ISU Faculty Association-IEA/NEA would be tenure-line faculty’s exclusive bargaining representative.

Individual faculty membership in  AAUP presents no conflict ifor faculty supporting and joining ISU FA.  It is only through the ISU FA (once certified) that we faculty shall gain the benefits and protections of a legally-binding  bargaining agreement.

Most U.S. public universities, including Illinois State University, subscribe and adhere to AAUP standards, chiefly in the area of academic freedom and tenure.  ISU Policies & Procedures state that its values in regard to academic freedom are based in part on “language and philosophy developed by the AAUP.”  Beyond inclusion in an AAUP censure list, with the occasional follow-up report by AAUP, there is no or little accountability on employer action with out union representation.

For more information, or to get involved, contact:

David R. Vitoff, Organizer
Illinois Education Association-NEA
304 S. Eldorado, Suite 2, Bloomington IL 61704

Cell: 618/972-5850
800/755-0130 (toll free Illinois)
dave.vitoff@ieanea.org

Updated March 8, 2017

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