FAQs About Civil Service Unions

Employee and Labor Relations has developed an FAQ section to assist in answering questions about certification of civil service union members regarding how being a member of a union affects their employment at NIU.

If you have additional questions, please submit them below. Responses will be added as information becomes available.

Can I become a fair share employee if I have already signed a union card??

Please check with the union or the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board for information on this topic.

Are fair share fees rather than union dues an option for the AFSCME Local 1890

Please check with the union or the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board for information on this topic.

What are the positions that are included in the AFSCME 1890 union?

The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, has provided the Certification Petition Case No. 2016-RC-0001-C listing all of the civil service classifications within the AFSCME 1890 bargaining unit.

How do I respond to an employee's request to participate in union activity during work hours (meetings, rallys, etc)?

A request to leave the workplace during regular hours to participate in union activity during work hours (meetings, rallys, etc.) is subject to operational needs (as determined by their supervisor) and departmental policy. This is similar to requests by employee's to participate in other activity during work hours such as meetings and/or university related activity.

The employee must seek advanced supervisory permission and can utilize their break time, benefit time, or compensatory time to attend to the union activity which is typically outside the scope of the duties assigned by their supervisor. Departments are advised not to decline approval for absence based on the type of activity to which the employee is seeking to attend.

What does it mean to be represented by a union?

It means that the union negotiates the wages, hours and terms and conditions of your employment collectively. You may no longer negotiate those matters with university administrators (e.g., your department head, dean, etc.) on your own behalf.

Will I have union dues/fair share fees deducted from my paycheck, and what amount will be deducted?

The amount of union dues is set exclusively by the union. The withholding from payroll of union dues and/or fair share fees is a matter that will be addressed in collective bargaining negotiations.


Can I remove myself from the bargaining unit??

No, you cannot as long as you are in a covered position. While not all employees may wish to be represented by a union, the university generally is unable to remove an employee in a covered position from the certified bargaining unit.


I think I signed one of those cards/papers/petitions, but I didn’t realize it meant I was actually voting to form a union. Will revoking my signature change the outcome?

No. Illinois labor law assumes you read and understood a union authorization card, paper or petition that you signed, and revoking your signature after the union has been certified will not impact the Labor Board’s ruling.


If I did not sign anything and/or am opposed to being represented by a union, am I still required to be represented by the union?

Yes.  The union has cited your position as part of a “community of interest,” in which the majority of such a community has voted for representation.  In some cases, your classification may be included as a larger group of interest, even though you may be the only person in your classification.  All classifications listed in the Certification Petition are considered part of the bargaining unit and are subject to the wages, hours and terms and conditions of employment negotiated by the union on their behalf. 


Will the policies and procedures of the university and/or my college remain the same?

As part of its duty to maintain the status quo concerning matters that are a mandatory subject of bargaining, the university and its colleges and departments will continue to follow existing policies and procedures with respect to matters that directly concern wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment during the period of negotiations. For example, under existing policy, units have the ability to continue providing competitive counter-offers and promotions.


Will the existing university faculty/staff grievance procedure continue to be available as a means of resolving disputes that are covered by its terms?

The faculty/staff grievance procedure remains in place notwithstanding any ongoing collective bargaining negotiations.


I did not get to vote in an election on the question of establishing a union. Do employees have the right to vote in an election?

No. Illinois law allows a union to be selected as collective bargaining representative without an election through a “card check” procedure, which involves collecting signatures from a majority of employees in the proposed bargaining unit and submitting the signed cards, paper, or petitions to the Illinois Educational Labor Board (IELRB) to establish that a majority of the employees want the union to represent them. A majority is defined as 50 percent plus 1 of the employees in the proposed bargaining unit.


How can I participate in the negotiation process if I am not part of the bargaining team?

Collective bargaining negotiations are conducted exclusively through representatives appointed by the union to its team and by the university to its team.


Who should I contact if I have further questions or concerns regarding being represented?

For further assistance, please contact the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board.

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Employee and Labor Relations
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