University of Illinois Spends Millions on Outside Counsel to Resist Collective Bargaining

The University of Illinois continues to spend millions of dollars resisting unionization and collective bargaining.

Our unionized colleagues at Chicago, UIC United, have obtained financial and other records revealing that the University administration has spent millions of dollars over the last decade resisting unionization. The records were made available through a Freedom of Information Act filing.

In the past ten years, the UI administration has spent $3,282,414.14 on outside counsel costs for labor issues. This averages to over $300,000 per year. At the same time, UI has many on-staff lawyers who are paid very well, several of whom are assigned to deal with labor issues.

In the month of May 2011 alone the administration paid $24,583.75 to Clark Baird Smith LLP to try and defeat The UIC United campaign, which followed the legal process by filing a majority interest petition with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board [IELRB]. U of I continues to resist entering into a legally mandated collective bargaining with UIC United.

On September 15, 2011 the IELRB supported the ruling of an administrative judge and reaffirmed UIC United’s right to exist and to represent tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty. But the administration has said it will continue to pursue its appeal through the courts. We can only imagine how much more expensive it will be to carry out that threat, not before a labor relations board, but in the courts of the state of Illinois. And what if they lose in Illinois? Will they go to the federal courts?

Faculty here at UI Urbana-Champaign wonder how that three million plus dollars might have been used to upgrade classrooms, maintain equipment, avoid furloughs, provide raises, lower or maintain student tuition, and bolster staffing support. $300,000 a year could go a long way toward improving the UI working environment and our students’ learning environment, here and in Chicago.

President Hogan says he has a long history of working with unions. We hope that’s true. The UI’s resistance to UIC United makes us wonder.

The Campus Faculty Association is committed to transparency and wise use of public funds. We think unions can strengthen the faculty voice in the running of the university and fulfilling its three missions: education, research and public service.

Many thanks to our UIC United colleagues for their efforts, and many congratulations on their big win. We’re all for you!

Campus Faculty Association
campusfacultyassoc@gmail.com