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Faculty at University of Illinois –Springfield form union

2/17/2015

SPRINGFIELD – Faculty at University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS) won a major victory by forming a union, which was certified by the labor relations board on Friday, February 13th. The newly certified unit is 137 members strong and is now the newest chapter of the University Professionals of Illinois, Local 4100, an affiliate of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. This win is part of a trend in higher education where faculties are pushing back against college administrators turning university teaching into an unstable, temporary job. Stability for educators means higher retention rates and more experience in the classroom. Faculty organized with the goals of: negotiating fair wages and benefits, sharing governance with the administration, and for freedom from retaliation when advocating for the rights of students.
 
In May of 2014, faculty at UIS’s sister school University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) signed its first union contract, and in July non-tenure track faculty at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign won recognition for its union. In December, UIS faculty submitted union authorization cards signed by a majority showing interest in union representation and today the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) officially approved their efforts.
 

“A Union for UIS is a win for the faculty, but also a win for the students,” said Donna Bussell, professor of English and linguistics. “Studies have shown that public universities with faculty unions have lower tuition rates, less bureaucratic bloat, and higher graduation rates. UIS educators believe that sharing governance with university administration will allow us to better advocate both for ourselves and on behalf of our students.”

 
The next step for the new faculty union is to negotiate its first contract with the University.

“Obviously, we’re going to be negotiating for fair pay and benefits -- faculty salaries at UIS rank 11th out of 14 of peer institutions – but we hope to use these upcoming negotiations to bring transparency to UIS and improve our University for the students,” said Lynn Fisher, professor of anthropology and archeology. “Now that we have a union, we can look at the budget documents and bargain a contract that’s fair for us, the community, and the students we serve.”
​"This is a major victory for the entire University of Illinois community,” said Dan Montgomery, President of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. “I’m extremely proud of these dedicated faculty and admire the incredible unity they displayed during this effort. This will be a new era for UIS -- one that includes shared governance between faculty and administration. Their successful work will ensure that UIS remains the high-quality institution that attracts and retains top tier faculty for its students.”​​

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The University of Illinois - Springfield faculty union includes 137 members across disciplines. The Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) is made up of more than 100,000 teachers and staff in PreK-12 school districts, higher education professionals, public employees, and retirees throughout Illinois and is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). The AFT represents more than 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.

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