Contract talks with UI group to start

Contract talks with UI group to start

URBANA – The University of Illinois will begin meeting with visiting academic professionals in the next few weeks to agree on ground rules for collective bargaining sessions and to start negotiations.

Earlier this month, the Fourth District Appellate Court ruled the UI must begin bargaining, even though its appeal on whether the visiting academic professionals can form a union is still pending.

"That's a good indicator of where I think the court going to go" on the UI's appeal, said Gene Vanderport, area representative for the Illinois Education Association.

"We've also asked the UI to drop the appeal, rather than spend the time in litigation when we can have this contract done instead of wasting resources," Vanderport said.

The UI will not drop the appeal, said Deputy University Counsel Steve Veazie, who disagreed the ruling is an indication how the court will rule on the appeal.

"We've felt all along this is just a fragment of the appropriate bargaining unit, and that is still our position, but clearly we have to start bargaining," he said.

Veazie said he will contact Vanderport soon to discuss dates when the two sides can begin meeting.

The visiting academic professionals voted in April to form a union, which will represent about 370 employees on campus. The group is affiliated with the Illinois Education Association.

The UI objects to the group forming a bargaining unit. Officials believe that the visiting academic professionals should be part of a larger bargaining unit including all academic professionals, but the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board ruled in July that the visiting employees were an appropriate group to organize.

The UI appealed the decision of the labor board to the court system and asked for a stay of the obligation to bargain until the appeal is decided. The court denied the stay, but it has not yet ruled on the appeal.

Vanderport said the IEA has asked the court to expedite its decision on the appeal.

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