Dear Alma | Help for “Frightened” and “Redecorating”

Dear Alma,

I am a lecturer who supports the union of non-tenure-track faculty at UIUC, but I’m frightened that my decision might cost me my job. Can my colleagues and I be disciplined for talking
about a union at work?

Signed,
Frightened in Freer

Dear Frightened,

The answer is No. You and your colleagues have a legal and Constitutional right to engage in concerted activities in the workplace to form a union, and those protections are explicitly spelled out in state and federal laws. Employees also have the right to refrain from such activities. Your employer may not coerce, interrogate, or threaten you concerning your union vote. They may not drop you into the deep end of Freer pool. If you feel that your rights have been violated, or need a lifeguard, please contact the CFA immediately!

Signed,
Alma

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Dear Alma,

I’m picking out a spot in my office for my 2014 ethics training certificate. Can you help me select a place to display this important memento, and, it occurs to me to ask,  does union organizing violate the state ban on “political activities” in the workplace?

Signed,
Redecorating

Dear Redecorating,

If you are in Coble Hall, Alma recommends using the certificate to help insulate the windowsills and prevent the entry of insects and rodents into your scholarly sanctum.   But there is no need to block union conversations from your office.  Fundraising for your cousin the alderman on work time is prohibited, but talking about unions with your colleagues is a right protected under state law.  Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

Good luck with the feng shui!

Love,
Alma