FAQ: Petition to Organize a Bargaining Unit

Frequently Asked Questions

Petition to Organize a Bargaining Unit


The Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) recently filed a petition with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) seeking to organize full-time tenure system faculty at the University of Illinois Springfield campus into a bargaining unit.  Questions have been posed about the petition and process.  This communication is intended to help answer some of those questions and provide resources to help keep you informed.


What does it mean that the IFT filed a petition?

Illinois law allows for certification of a bargaining unit through an election or by demonstration of a majority interest of employees to form the bargaining unit (“labor union”).  A showing of majority interest is demonstrated by the labor union’s collection of signed cards from a majority of employees in the proposed bargaining unit.  After collecting signed cards, the labor union files a Majority Interest Petition with the IELRB and submits the signed cards as proof.  IFT has filed their Majority Interest

Petition with the IELRB to form a bargaining unit of all full-time (i.e., employees who have .51 or greater appointment as a faculty member) tenured and tenure track faculty.  Excluded are all faculty members who serve as heads, chairs, and all managers, supervisors, and confidential employees as defined by the IELR Act.


What is the next step?

The IELRB has requested that the University provide a list of names and signature samples of the faculty the union has petitioned to represent. The University may file an answer to the petition to be certain that the process is consistent with the IELR Act, such as confirming the appropriateness of the bargaining unit, proper exclusions of supervisory, managerial and confidential employees,  or to address possible fraud or coercion in the collection of the cards from employees. The IELRB has set a hearing on the petition for January 28, 2015.  The University is reviewing the matter and compiling the information requested by the IELRB.


Is the University opposed to labor unions?

No. The University has a long history of working with labor unions representing employees. There are currently seven civil service and one graduate assistant bargaining units representing employees on the Springfield campus. The University abides by all requirements of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, and supports its employees’ right to organize.


I think I signed a union card but did not realize I was signing to actually form a bargaining unit. Can I revoke my card? What can I do?


Upon the filing of a Majority Interest Petition with the IELRB, the cards filed with the petition become irrevocable.  If you have concerns about the methods used to procure your signature you may contact the Office of Human Resources.


I did not sign a card and I am opposed to the union. If the bargaining unit is formed, am I required to join the union?


No. Employees who wish to join the union may do so and will be assessed union dues as may be set by the union.  Those who do not wish to join are not required to do so, but may be assessed a “fair share” fee if such a provision is negotiated in a collective-bargaining agreement.  If a fair share fee was negotiated that fee is paid to the union based on the principle that the labor union represents all employees under certain job titles that make up the bargaining unit, not just those who have actively joined.


I have other questions or concerns.  Who should I contact?



  • Mark Owens
    Manager of Labor & Employee Relations
    (217) 206-7096