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Professors’ Union in the works at ISU

Written by on October 12, 2023

Photo provided by Illinois State University

NORMAL, Ill. – Faculty at Illinois State University are in the process of forming a union for tenure-track professors.

The process of organizing this group has been going on for over two years now according to Assistant Professor of History Keith Pluymers, a faculty member who has been heavily involved in the organization efforts.

For now, the union is awaiting certification from the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. The group has submitted their membership cards and need only a simple majority of all faculty to be certified. According to Pluymers, they have “an overwhelming majority of faculty” and anticipate certification by the end of the year.

“To choose to organize and to collectively bargain is not something that people take lightly, so there’s been a lot of work to have conversations about what this would mean,” Pluymers said. “What goals, issues and ambitions are if we work together, and how this could benefit everyone.”

Pluymers had to be vague about conditions that led to a need for a union. Once formed, the group will form their negotiation platform based on surveys of their members and many more conversations. Because of this, Pluymers wanted to avoid tipping the scales in any particular direction preemptively. That being said, there are still some things he can go into.

“We heard a lot of people say that it didn’t feel like they were getting the resources they needed to do the job they wanted to do,” Pluymers said. “And that can be where we lay out key conditions that we’re gonna focus on for this first contract.”

As of now, the university’s administration has commented very little on the new union, though they said in a statement that they respect the faculty’s right to organize. Despite this, Pluymers is optimistic about going into productive negotiations with the university.

“My hope is that when we sit down to bargain we’re gonna have a good faith discussion,” Pluymers said.  “And that it’ll be clear that faculty are coming here because we understand that … we can work to improve this institution and to strengthen it.”