Uni teachers submit petition to unionize
URBANA —A majority of faculty members at University Laboratory High School in Urbana has submitted a petition with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board to form a union, according to a news release.
The union will be called the Uni Faculty Organization and will be affiliated with the Illinois Education Association.
Carol Lombardi, who teaches journalism at Uni, said the petition was filed Tuesday.
"After the labor board reviews our petition, there is a posting period of roughly three weeks," she said, and at the end of that period, the union will be certified.
"There is a chance that the university will delay the process by forcing a hearing with the labor board, but we are hopeful they won't choose to do that," Lombardi said. "In fact, we are really looking forward to working with the university to make the learning and teaching conditions at Uni even better than they already are."
University of Illinois spokeswoman Robin Kaler said the university hasn't yet received an official notice about the filing from the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board.
"When that happens, we will consider our options and determine how to proceed," Kaler said.
Lombardi said there were three informational meetings for faculty members in the fall, and the organizing committee members spoke individually with each teacher this spring.
"During those spring conversations, we also gave them the opportunity to sign a card," Lombardi said. "So far, then, it's been a nine-month process."
She said the school has 34 full- and part-time faculty members, and a majority signed cards in order to file the petition.
Elizabeth Majerus, a member of Uni's English department, said in a news release the faculty members involved love teaching at the school and enjoy working with its students.
"A great deal of our motivation in forming a union is to preserve what we like about our jobs," she said, adding that "most area teachers are unionized and thus enjoy a level of decision-making power we don't currently share."
Gene Bild, who works in the school's math department, said in the news release that Uni's teachers having a collective bargaining agreement will give the school a protocol for handling problems.
"Uni is, in many ways, a very relaxed teaching environment and we value that," Bild said in the release. "But when difficult situations arise and there is no agreed-upon process for handling them, that can be a problem. We anticipate having positive negotiations with the university and our hope is to bargain a contract that will create an even better teaching and learning environment at Uni."
The school was established in 1921 and is located on the campus of the University of Illinois.
Uni High is a publicly funded school with competitive enrollment. It has about 300 students in ninth through 12th grades, as well as a combined class of seventh- and eighth-graders it calls "subfreshmen."