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Faculty union files Unfair Labor Practice charges against EIU and WIU

Thursday, Aug 13, 2020

* Press release…

In the rush to reopen college campuses nationwide and in Illinois, the safety of students, faculty, and staff who teach and learn in our institutions is being overlooked. This is particularly true at Western and Eastern Illinois Universities, where the administrations have moved forward with plans for in-person learning without having adequate safety precautions in place or bargaining in good faith such plans with the union, as required by law.

“We have filed Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board requesting an injunction against the administrations of both Eastern and Western Illinois Universities,” said University Professionals of Illinois (Local 4100) President John Miller. “We had hoped to avoid taking such action, but their unwillingness to faithfully bargain with us to develop comprehensive safety plans on these campuses left us with no other choice.

“The safety of our students, faculty, staff and their families must be the top priority, and these universities are showing a blatant disregard for our well-being and that of the communities they serve,” Miller said.

The disregard for safety is particularly concerning in Coles County, where Eastern Illinois University is located. This week, the county was put on the IDPH warning list due to rising numbers of cases. Bringing students to live on campus will undoubtedly worsen the situation.

With that in mind, Jeannie Ludlow, president of the Eastern Illinois University Chapter of Local 4100, explained that EIU’s so-called safety plan is not comprehensive. “EIU’s return to campus plan focuses on individual actions like mask wearing but does not address larger safety considerations like systematic testing or air purification,” she said. “In other words, EIU’s plan puts the responsibility for safety on our students, faculty, and staff and not on the institution. We want to give our students the best possible chance for success this school year, and that means reducing potential COVID exposure and allowing everyone involved to determine what safe work and learning looks like for them.”

Bill Thompson, president of the Western Illinois University Chapter of Local 4100, said the situation is just as concerning at WIU. “The university has asked me to pledge to wear a mask, maintain social distancing, and clean frequently used surfaces, but in return they haven’t pledged to provide students and employees with safe places and ways to work, to test everyone adequately, and to provide a metric so that we can see whether WIU’s plan is working. That gives me no confidence in how my students, myself, and my colleagues will be kept safe.”

The IELRB will now review the charges in the ULPs. The universities will be given time to respond; the union remains hopeful that the administrations will choose to bargain an acceptable plan with the faculty for a gradual and safe return to in-person instruction. If not, the IELRB can request the Attorney General seek an injunction requiring the universities to continue remote learning until they have bargained in good faith with the union or until an arbitrator has resolved the issue of whether the universities’ reopening plans violate their duty to provide a safe workplace.

“We are hopeful that WIU and EIU administrations will sit down with us to negotiate in good faith a truly safe path forward for the start of the upcoming semester. Short of that, our union stands ready to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the safety of our members, their students, and the communities surrounding these campuses,” Miller said.

“Our lives are not a social or laboratory experiment, and even one death would be an unacceptable outcome.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

16 Comments
  1. - Merica - Thursday, Aug 13, 20 @ 2:19 pm:

    I wonder what it would be like to work for and be represented by a real union like is exemplified here, unlike a face union like AFSCME, which apparently only represents retired state employees or current childless state employees.

    it’s so pathetic to see AFSCME fold and institute a coming back to work plan that leaves state employees with children with no option but to quit or leave their kids alone because schools and daycares are closed.

    this is ripe for a class action lawsuit


  2. - 1st Ward - Thursday, Aug 13, 20 @ 2:22 pm:

    My guess its a desperate plea to get or retain more students remaining open. EIU and WIU especially have hemorrhaged students for years. The others have turned the ship around or are treading water.

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-cb-fall-enrollment-2019-illinois-universities-20190905-ajhizgv6sfbltesmim732kiuma-story.html


  3. - JS Mill - Thursday, Aug 13, 20 @ 2:29 pm:

    I guess they don’t believe what science says about masks and social distancing.


  4. - downstateR - Thursday, Aug 13, 20 @ 2:44 pm:

    Maybe Thompson (WIU) can call for a vote of no confidence for this BOT and President too. /sarc.

    Not saying he’s wrong in this case, but he does have a reputation of being a serial contrarian.


  5. - pool boy - Thursday, Aug 13, 20 @ 2:46 pm:

    This may be the beginning of the end for EIU and WIU.


  6. - Not a Billionaire - Thursday, Aug 13, 20 @ 3:24 pm:

    It’s easy to become a serial contrarian when your institution has suffered terrible management and oversight since at least the baby boom end Inn the 70s.


  7. - Blue Dog Dem - Thursday, Aug 13, 20 @ 3:29 pm:

    NYU professor Scott Galloway(marketing snd best selling author) predicts 100’s of university closures. I wonder if it will be EIU,WIU or SIUC.


  8. - Mama - Thursday, Aug 13, 20 @ 3:40 pm:

    “I guess they don’t believe what science says about masks and social distancing,”

    It appears they only care about the economic impact of their communities if they don’t open the schools now.


  9. - Not a Billionaire - Thursday, Aug 13, 20 @ 3:42 pm:

    Illinois and the Midwest have a lot of small private colleges in trouble. MacMurry in Jacksonville closed this spring.


  10. - Mama - Thursday, Aug 13, 20 @ 3:43 pm:

    “NYU professor Scott Galloway(marketing snd best selling author) predicts 100’s of university closures. I wonder if it will be EIU,WIU or SIUC.”

    The universities can still make money by teaching online classes. Right?


  11. - Cubs Win - Thursday, Aug 13, 20 @ 3:53 pm:

    EIU has announced gains in overall enrollment and first-time freshmen enrollment the last two years — and it will probably have growth in those same two categories again this year — so predictions and speculation to the contrary might not be entirely accurate. They also had significant gains in transfer and graduate enrollment three years ago so they’re building on a very positive trend. The leadership team in place under the current president has done a great job turning things around.


  12. - Keyser Soze - Thursday, Aug 13, 20 @ 4:27 pm:

    WIU’s and EIU’s numbers are up this year. After watching UPI operate for the last several years it makes one wonder if they want to take these universities down and permanently close their doors—because they are doing a good job of it. Maybe distract on this issue so that the focus stays away from the fact that we have too many professors teaching to few classes with too few students.


  13. - Jane’s Hair - Thursday, Aug 13, 20 @ 5:14 pm:

    Perhaps Thompson has been serially contrary because of the many and various opportunities the administration has provided to him.


  14. - Just Wondering - Thursday, Aug 13, 20 @ 7:24 pm:

    ==I wonder what it would be like to work for and be represented by a real union like is exemplified here, unlike a face union like AFSCME, which apparently only represents retired state employees or current childless state employees.

    it’s so pathetic to see AFSCME fold and institute a coming back to work plan that leaves state employees with children with no option but to quit or leave their kids alone because schools and daycares are closed.==

    Not just AFSCME, but also SEIU and IFPE (IFT-affiliated). The latter two unions are the dominant ones at Secretary of STate, which reopened all offices and facilities, and returned all employees, June 1st. With temps taken, social distancing, masks, etc. Since then several drivers’ facilities and SOS offices have had to temporarily close due to someone testing positive.


  15. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Aug 13, 20 @ 7:28 pm:

    First off;

    Good on Labor. If your union isn’t protecting your health at the worksite maybe you need to look at what else it’s NOT doing.

    To the universities,

    The likelihood of this Governor closing any state university purposely is below zero. If you’re “rooting” for Illinois universities to close, shame on you to your state and those regions. These hubs, the universities are the stabilizing economic engines for the towns, counties, regions. Illinois needs it’s universities.

    Let’s do things safely, for students, administrators, instructors, support personnel, and for the regions.

    Let’s all be partners to safety, economics, and education. Let’s not purposefully hurt higher ed anymore.


  16. - Not a Billionaire - Friday, Aug 14, 20 @ 4:07 am:

    The unions have the research and think there will be a significant outbreak and that won’t be good for anyone. Iowa state tested everyone who came back and got a 2% active rate. I of I will. WIU will have the mobile can great for small rural counties. As a result of Iowa state I of Iowa has more hybrid switch to online. Probably delayed by the Deraheo. WIU could switch most of its hybrids online and make things manageable with the testing van


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