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SIU will repay almost $2 million to workers

Carbondale Times

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.” 

Pool construction passes halfway mark

Carbondale Times

 CARBONDALE — Construction on the city’s new outdoor pool now has topped the 50-percent mark, and the project is still on track to open this summer.

Kathy Renfro, executive director of the Carbondale Park District, said this week that construction on the Super Splash Park Outdoor Aquatic Center is “51 percent complete,” and total funds raised to complete the project now stand at $825,000 — just $75,000 short of the total goal. In addition, the Kiwanis Club will present a check for $5,000 Friday morning.

The outdoor pool, for which the community broke ground in 2013 at the Superblock on Carbondale’s east side, is set to include a lazy river, competition pool, zero-depth entry leisure pool, play structures, water slides, a bathhouse (pictured) and a concession stand.

In late 2011, the Park District received a $2.5 million grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to partially fund the project, and a capital campaign was launched to raise matching funds and additional money totaling the $900,000.

An overview of the pool project that includes construction costs, projected operating expenses and income projections is available online at