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New Faculty Union in Illinois


For Immediate Release: April 29, 2011

Contacts: Darold Barnum, Professor of Managerial Studies at UIC
Walter Benn Michaels,Professor of American Literature and Literary Theory at UIC
Giamila Fantuzzi, Associate Professor with the UIC College of Applied Health Science 

Hundreds of Faculty Demand Rights, Authorization Cards Being Delivered to Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board Today

Chicago, IL – Representatives from the UIC United Faculty campaign today will deliver hundreds of signed authorization cards to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB,) marking the first time in Illinois history that a large public research university’s faculty have organized a union. The broad and diverse coalition of faculty from across various academic spectrums formed and led the UIC United Faculty campaign in partnership with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT,) the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

“My academic research and management consulting over the last 40 years have focused on improving organizational performance, often through employee empowerment.  I support the UIC United Faculty union because faculty collective bargaining offers the best (and indeed only) way that UIC can accomplish its mission at a reasonable cost to the state and its students,” said Darold Barnum, Professor of Managerial Studies at UIC.

“A union of faculty at UIC will make sure the tax and tuition dollars of the people of Illinois are indeed directed towards the central mission of our university, access to an excellent education for everybody,” said Giamila Fantuzzi, Associate Professor with the UIC College of Applied Health Sciences. “Our victory shows that the trend against labor can be reversed through the passionate involvement of workers who deeply care about their workplace.”

“One of the most important, and thrilling, aspects of the organizing effort was the way it has brought together faculty across disciplinary, administrative and physical boundaries to reveal a UIC still passionately committed to its mission-- to organize, support, and disseminate research within the urban sphere, and to provide the highest level of education to students who might otherwise never have the ability or the opportunity.  We have seen a critical mass of faculty members yearning for a better UIC and ready to see unionization as the tool to forge that vision,” said Peter Hales, Professor, Art History, University Scholar.

The union includes contingent faculty – those not under the tenure system and currently hired at will – allowing this growing group to have the legal right to fair treatment and due process, thereby giving them the academic freedom to vigorously express their views. The union will represent faculty with appointments of 51 percent time up to full time.

The AFT, IFT and AAUP each provided resources and support staff to help the UIC United Faculty campaign mobilize and gather the hundreds of signed authorization cards needed to form the union. The AAUP, a nonprofit whose mission is to advance academic freedom and shared governance, has about 47,000 members. The IFT has 103,000 members statewide, and the AFT has 1.5 million members nationwide.

“The UIC faculty decision to create a union underscores how important a collective voice can be to ensure faculty input in university decisions. That will make a great school even better, and sends a powerful message that the ongoing attacks on public workers have had a catalytic, rather then chilling effect ” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.

“This is truly a historic and proud moment for UIC, and the hard work of the UIC United Faculty campaign will ensure that the faculty of the university will have the collective voice and legal protection they need to advocate for what is in the best interest of the school, its students and members,” said IFT President Dan Montgomery.

"Amidst all the attacks on public sector employees across the nation, the UIC United Faculty campaign is a powerful and historic statement of what is possible, of what faculty at a major public research university can do when they collectively work to secure their voice in shaping a high quality public university that fulfills its social purposes and its academic potential," says Gary Rhoades, AAUP General Secretary.

For more information on the UIC United Faculty campaign, please visit

Media Contact: 
Darold Barnum
Publication Date: 
Friday, April 29, 2011