Letter to Chancellor Koch and President Killeen, regarding Chairs at UIS

The following was sent December 16, 2016 to Chancellor Koch and President Killeen, asking them to urge the Board of Trustees to drop attempts to override faculty voice and deny chairs at UIS their status as faculty members.

Dear Chancellor Koch and President Killeen:

With this letter we request that the University of Illinois refrain from any further efforts to prevent department chairs at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) from joining the collective bargaining unit for full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty. As you are aware, last May University Professionals of Illinois, Local 4100, filed a majority interest petition to add department chairs to the bargaining unit. The University of Illinois filed an appeal with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (Case No. 2016-RS-0006-S), attempting to exclude chairs from the bargaining unit on grounds that department chairs at UIS are supposedly confidential employees and supervisors or managerial employees. On September 19, 2016 the Administrative Law Judge found that chairs at UIS are not confidential employees, supervisors or managerial employees. The University again opted to appeal this decision to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB). On December 15, 2016, the determination of the Administrative Law Judge was upheld by the IELRB, in a decision holding that chairs at UIS are faculty.

From information we recently received in response to a Freedom of Information Act request of November 5, 2016, we understand that as of November 21, the University of Illinois has spent $69,464 on legal expenses and fees in its efforts to keep chairs out of the faculty bargaining unit and change organizational culture on the UIS campus. In the interests of a commitment to the idea that education should be our first priority, and in the interests of good stewardship during this period when higher education is under intense strain and scrutiny in Illinois, we request that the University of Illinois waste no additional resources on this matter. We would hope that in this challenging fiscal environment monies and resources would be directed toward student scholarships, graduate assistantships, direct instruction, and recruiting and retaining quality, dedicated employees.

UIS United Faculty is committed to preserving the organizational culture on our campus. Tenured and tenure-track faculty at UIS, including chairs, have a strong history of working collaboratively at every level. The Administrative Law Judge and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board rulings confirm that UIS chairs are first and foremost faculty. It is an integral part of our identity as a teaching institution.We ask that you acknowledge this and accept these two rulings so that we can remain focused on working together for the good of our students.

Thank you for your consideration.

UIS United Faculty Executive Board:

Lynn Fisher, President

Kristi Barnwell, Vice President

Donna Bussell, Officer At-large and Lead Negotiator

Heather Bailey, Officer At-large

Deborah Anthony, Grievance Officer, Ex officio

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