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NIU faculty, administration reach health and safety agreement

Union-recommended provisions will provide greatest possible level of safety


DeKalb – After several weeks of bargaining led to a faculty rally for campus safety last week, faculty at Northern Illinois University (NIU) who are members of the University Professionals of Illinois (UPI Local 4100) reached an agreement with the NIU administration on August 15 that prioritizes the health and safety of students, faculty and the community.


“We encountered some challenges during negotiations, but we are very pleased to announce that the parties have successfully bargained an agreement that we believe will protect our campus, our families, and all of DeKalb ,” said Kerry Ferris, associate professor of sociology and president of the tenured faculty union.

The agreement contains several key provisions that the unionized faculty members sought, including:

  • The option for all faculty to provide remote instruction if the COVID-19 positivity rate on campus reaches or exceeds 8 percent (per IDPH data);

  • The ability of immunocompromised faculty members (and those who are caretakers of immunocompromised individuals) to teach remotely at any time; and,

  • An indoor mask wearing requirement for students and faculty in all spaces in which instruction takes place (including the library).

The union and administration previously agreed to additional campus safety measures, including the use of air purifiers with HEPA filters in instructional areas, regular testing of students and faculty, and a student vaccination requirement. Those measures remain in the new agreement.


Keith Nyquist, instructor of business communications and president of the non-tenured faculty union, added, “Faculty are so excited to begin the fall semester in-person with our students, and we certainly hope to stay that way. But in the event the surging Delta variant makes that too dangerous, we believe the agreement our union bargained will help ensure the greatest level of safety possible for our students, our families, and our neighbors. This is a win for the whole community.”


Classes are set to resume at NIU on August 23.


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The University Professionals of Illinois (UPI, Local 4100) represents about 750 faculty in two chapters at NIU. Statewide, UPI represents faculty and staff at 7 of Illinois' 12 public universities The UPI is affiliated with the Illinois Federation of Teachers.


The Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) represents 103,000 teachers and paraprofessionals in PreK-12 school districts throughout Illinois, faculty and staff at Illinois’ community colleges and universities, public employees under every statewide elected constitutional officer, and retirees.



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