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AFSCME files complaint against NIU

Union says administration not bargaining in good faith

DeKALB – A union representing about 700 Northern Illinois University employees is accusing the administration of failure to negotiate in good faith after 15 months of talks have not led to an agreement.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1890, which represents clerical and other workers at the school, filed its latest complaint July 10. University employees voted to organize in October 2015, and negotiations on their first contract with the school began in February 2016.

“[NIU] has threatened to declare an impasse, tried to get us to withdraw items and refused to agree to languages in several other collective bargaining agreements the university has in place with other unions,” AFSCME spokeswoman Sara Dorner said.

She added that the university’s threat to declare an impasse was premature because representatives have yet to bargain on several of the union’s proposals, such as health and safety language and benefits.

Dorner said negotiations still are being scheduled, with the next one slated for July 27.

The Illinois Labor Relations Board will investigate the complaint and could hold a hearing on the matter.

University spokeswoman Lisa Miner said the school would not comment on ongoing negotiations.

If NIU were to declare an impasse and state labor officials agreed, the university would be allowed to impose its best final contract offer on the union.

Dorner said it has been seven years since the university’s support staff have had a wage increase.

The union’s latest complaint comes two months after an administrative law judge ruled the university had violated state labor laws by increasing employee permit fees for campus parking during negotiations. This stemmed from a complaint the union had filed last year.

Judge Nick Gutierrez had recommended that NIU refrain from modifying any condition of employment before coming to an agreement or reaching an impasse and to restore the earlier parking rates.

NIU appealed this recommendation, which is now being taken before the Illinois Labor Relations Board.

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