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Northern Illinois University, tenured faculty union reach tentative contract agreement

DeKALB – After a united and crowded public appeal to the Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees last week, the university’s faculty union announced that a tentative contract has been reached for the first time.

Mark Schuller, vice president of United Faculty Alliance and a tenured professor of anthropology, said Friday that he was pleased with the agreement, which will now go before the union for a vote of approval, then to the trustees.

“I feel like both sides did our very best,” Schuller said. “This is a contract that is very far into investing in faculty and sets the foundation for several years of building solid relationships with administration to bring more students to NIU and address the challenges that we face.”

The union, which represents more than 500 tenured and tenure-track faculty from NIU’s six colleges, was formed in 2017. Its members have been seeking a labor contract – and advocating for wage increases, fair workloads for professors and clearer academic policies – with the university since then, but to no avail, Schuller has said.

In addition to pushing for a pay raise, which he said hasn’t happened in a decade, Schuller said issues such as academic freedom (such as not being fired for conducting research deemed controversial or unpopular), a transparent management process and transparent decisions about grant allocations are also priorities for union members.

Schuller declined to reveal any specific details about the as-yet unratified contract, but said it does address goals the union identified as priorities.

“Our goals were investing in faculty, transparency, equity in the process, and faculty roles and governance,” Schuller said. “Faculty and administration came to an agreement on how to move forward.”

NIU did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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