January 22, 2015

SIU Carbondale to comply with labor board decision

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale will comply with an order by the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board to “make whole” employees in three collective bargaining groups who were required to take unpaid furlough days in the 2011-12 fiscal year. 

The university had until Jan. 22 to appeal the board’s Dec. 18, 2014, decision, which confirmed a July recommendation made by an administrative law judge. 

The decision relates to collective bargaining that took place in 2010 and 2011, when university officials were asking employees to take unpaid furlough days to help address fiscal challenges. 

In its finding, the labor board stated that the university violated sections of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act by “unilaterally implementing final offers where the parties had not reached impasse.” The board ordered the university to “make whole any employees in the bargaining units … for any losses incurred,” including annual interest at 7 percent. 

Members of the three bargaining groups affected by the decision, all represented by the Illinois Education Association, include approximately 1,400 current and former tenure-track faculty, non-tenure-track faculty and civil service employees. 

SIU President Randy Dunn said he made the decision not to appeal the finding following consultation with the executive committee of the SIU Board of Trustees. 

“A lengthy appeal could lead to significant additional costs,” Dunn said. “There are obviously multiple sides and perspectives to any issue, but it makes sense for us to close the page on this difficult period and look forward to the future in partnership with all of our faculty and staff.” 

Dunn said the university has a number of details to work through to identify current and past employees who are eligible for the payments. The total costs for reimbursing employees in the three groups for the days, with interest, is likely to exceed $1.7 million, he said. 

“We are prepared to address the financial impact as part of our overall budget planning,” he added. “It is too early to say when employees can anticipate their reimbursements given the complexities of the details, but we will comply with all aspects of the labor board’s order in good faith.” 

He added that the SIU Board of Trustees, during its March meeting, will consider whether and how to compensate employees who were not in the three bargaining groups for the days, as well. 

“Because the Illinois labor board’s decision covered only three specific bargaining units, the SIU board would need to take action regarding other employees who were subject to the furlough days,” Dunn said.