UIC Faculty closer to unionizing

April 29, 2011

Kristen McQueary

Faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago took a major step toward unionizing Friday, delivering stacks of signed union cards to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board in Chicago.

The milestone marked two years of organizing by the UIC United Faculty campaign, American Association of University Professors and Illinois Federation of Teachers/American Federation of Teachers.

The next step falls to the labor board, which must decide whether the signed cards cover a majority of eligible members. If they do, the union moves toward certification.

“In the face of tremendous anti-union fervor nationwide, these faculty members chose to unionize,” said Howard Bunsis, professor of accounting at Eastern Michigan University and chairman of the AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress.

The university said it will await a decision from the labor board.

“We have not received any official word about this filing,” said Mark Rosati, the university’s associate chancellor of public affairs. “It remains to be seen whether the threshold has been met.”

Lorenzo McDonald, organizing director for IFT, said the bargaining unit, if recognized, would cover about 1,000 employees. More than half of them filed cards, according to McDonald.

Faculty members believe unionization will improve their working conditions, including better salaries and input into university restructuring and curriculum changes, Bunsis said.

The labor board director was not immediately available for comment.