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NIU faculty unions file Unfair Labor Practice charges against university

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Tenured and non-tenured faculty at Northern Illinois University demonstrated outside of Altgeld Hall on Wednesday to protest the university’s refusal to bargain with them.

Both NIU union chapters filed Unfair Labor Practice charges against the university. Kerry Ferris is a sociology professor and president of the tenured chapter of the faculty union.

She says she was surprised and confused that university representatives walked out of their first session without bargaining.

“We're ready to negotiate and we are just waiting for them to return to the table," she said. "They're obligated to do so by law, so we truly do not understand their refusal.”

Keith Nyquist teaches business communication and is president of the union representing non-tenured NIU faculty.

He says he was asked to stand in support of the tenured track union and join them at their bargaining session.

“I was there as the sole representative for the instructor's union," he said. "When they were made aware of my presence, they said they were not going to bargain.”

The same thing happened when the non-tenured union asked Ferris to come to their session. In a statement, NIU’s administration says inviting faculty who are not part of the bargaining committee “posed a conflict.”

Nyquist says the non-tenured union has been working together with NIU in negotiations for over a year. Ferris says their team has been working on proposals for at least four months. They have another session scheduled for tomorrow and hope the university administration shows up.

Until then, she says it’s hard to negotiate what’s fair for faculty and students if there’s nobody there to bargain with. Both union leaders say there will be no disruption for students.

Peter joins WNIJ as a graduate of North Central College. He is a native of Sandwich, Illinois.
Jenna Dooley has spent her professional career in public radio. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois - Springfield. She returned to Northern Public Radio in DeKalb after several years hosting Morning Edition at WUIS-FM in Springfield. She is a former "Newsfinder of the Year" from the Illinois Associated Press and recipient of NIU's Donald R. Grubb Journalism Alumni Award. She is an active member of the Illinois News Broadcasters Association and an adjunct instructor at NIU.