Union seeks adequate health and safety measures as university returns to in-person instruction
(Macomb) -- The nearly 500 members of the WIU Chapter of the University Professionals of Illinois (Local 4100) learned today that the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) has agreed to request that the Illinois Attorney General seek an injunction to prohibit the university from resuming face-to-face instruction until it has bargained in good faith with the union over its decision to do so. The union urged the IELRB to seek an injunction in Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges filed last week.
“Today’s labor board announcement is a big win for students, faculty, staff and Macomb and the Quad-Cities,” said UPI President John Miller. “Since May, our members at WIU have been trying to work with the administration to reach an agreement on health and safety measures that will adequately protect us all, but they have refused to make a serious effort to reach any agreement, so we were forced to act.”
With in-person instruction set to begin next week, the union remains seriously concerned about the risk of increasing case numbers on campus and in the community at large, particularly with statewide numbers steadily increasing.
In order to return safely to in-person instruction, the union has demanded that the administration provide systematic testing, adequate ventilation mitigation in classrooms and campus buildings, and other precautions as deemed necessary by the CDC.
“The university simply is not ready to return to business as usual,” said Miller. “And for the administration to act as if the danger is over is simply short-sighted and unacceptable.”
Unless the administration bargains in good faith to reach an agreement, the Attorney General will likely appear in court next week to stop the university from resuming face-to-face instruction until it complies with the law.
“The IELRB decided that we have a strong chance to win our case and that irreparable harm could come to students, faculty, staff, their families and our communities if the university returns to in-person instruction,” said Miller. “We are hopeful that under these circumstances and in light of an upcoming legal fight, the university will finally take negotiations seriously and work with us to enact adequate health and safety measures. “Lives are literally at stake,” he added. “To do anything less is irresponsible.”