CARBONDALE — SIU will pay current and former employees a total of at least $1.7 million after deciding not to fight a recent decision that found the university unfairly bargained with campus labor unions in 2011.
The money, which the university accrued as a result of four unpaid furlough days imposed on employees 2011, will be paid out to about 1,400 current and former tenure-track faculty, non-tenure-track faculty and civil service employees at the university.
An administrative law judge ruled last summer that SIU’s former administration exercised “bad faith bargaining” in its negotiations with three campus unions — the Association of Civil Service Employees, the Faculty Association and the Non-Tenure Track Faculty Association — by forcing a negotiating impasse.
Ultimately, that impasse resulted in the university’s administration unilaterally imposing the four unpaid furlough days in 2011 as its way of making up a $2.6 million budget shortfall. The unions filed unfair labor practice charges that same year. Also, members of the university’s Faculty Association went on strike in November of that year.
The university appealed last summer’s ruling to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, but the board upheld the judge’s decision in December. The university had until Jan. 22 to appeal the board’s decision in court but opted not to do so.
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.
The university’s Board of Trustees met in executive session Thursday to discuss how to proceed. SIU President Randy Dunn said he made the decision not to appeal the following consultation with the executive committee.
“A lengthy appeal could lead to significant additional costs,” Dunn said in a statement. “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 now must identify which employees are eligible to receive the payments and in March will discuss “whether and how to compensate employees who were not in the three bargaining groups for the days.”
The process of paying back the money for the furlough days comes just as the university is preparing for a budget reduction of up to 20 percent at the direction of newly elected Gov. Bruce Rauner.
“We are prepared to address the financial impact as part of our overall budget planning,” Dunn said. “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.”