Illinois Education Association: SIUE faculty could be unionized by fall

By Kelsey Landis, The Telegraph, Alton, Ill.

A group of some 400 Southern Illinois University Edwardsville faculty could complete the unionization process by the time students are back on campus next fall, according to the Illinois Education Association.

Tenured and tenure-track faculty make up the largest group on campus who are not represented by a union. Already unionized into three campus associations are dental assistants, library assistants, student advisors, workers in Head Start and Upward Bound, and non-tenure track lecturers and instructors.

MORE: SIUE faculty unionizing, demands state funding


The unionization process starts with faculty members signing a form that states they are interested in being represented by the state’s education association.

At least 30 percent of the university’s roughly 400 faculty members have to sign off in order for the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board to consider the bid. The board solicits a separate list of employees who would be part of the bargaining unit from the university.

The board then matches the signatures to the names provided by the university.

If at least 30 percent of the signatures check out, an election would be held to determine if there is sufficient interest by faculty to be recognized as an exclusive bargaining unit. If 50 percent or more of the signatures match, a bargaining unit would gain immediate recognition.

Signature collection could be finished by the end of spring, and the recognition process could begin over the summer.

If the union is recognized, bargaining could begin in the fall, said Michael McDermott, higher education director for the state association.

“We anticipate that when we submit the names to the board, we will have a sufficient number so that the unit will be automatically recognized,” McDermott said.


The time is now for them to organize, he noted.

“As a result of the current state of the financial appropriations in the state, they have decided it’s time to protect themselves against what’s happening,” McDermott said.

State funding for universities has been withheld since a budget impasse began more than eight months ago.

MORE: SIUE could see cuts topping $14 million under 2017 budget

In order to ensure a quality education, tenured and tenure-track faculty need to be organized, McDermott said.

“You have to have good wages, good benefits and a good working environment to attract the best educators possible, who in turn provide the best education possible to the students on that campus,” McDermott said.

University officials spoke in favor of the unionization last week.

“We share the faculty’s concern with the state of Illinois. With our history of shared governance at SIUE, we believe that one unified voice will be more effective in positively influencing state legislators in support of higher education,” said Doug McIlhagga, executive director of the university’s marketing and communications, on behalf of the institution.

Reporter Kelsey Landis can be reached at 618-208-6460, Ext. 1396 or on Twitter @kelseylandis.


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