Northern Illinois University Faculty Moves To Unionize


DEKALB, IL – Faculty at Northern Illinois University (NIU) filed an intent to unionize with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) to improve education for the students they serve.

Unionization will allow NIU faculty to improve their working conditions, which are ultimately their students’ learning conditions. Respect for the work they do will encourage NIU faculty to remain in their positions, building lifelong careers and lifelong relationships with their colleagues and generations of students. Faculty has experienced several years of wage freezes, a decline in tenured positions, a gender pay gap, and the replacement of tenured positions with adjunct teachers and graduate students.

Administrative bloat has diverted resources away from the mission of NIU –teaching, research, and service. The NIU administration raised tuition, ballooning student loan debt and reducing enrollments. A Union will give faculty a legal and contractual voice to work across the table with administrators to find solutions to budget issues.

“Faculty work with students every day to help them succeed," said Rosemary Feurer, Associate Professor of History at NIU.  “We are the heart of the university, and a union gives us a greater voice to improve NIU, for the benefit of our students and the community.”

"Union representation is a win for teachers and the students they serve," said Dan Montgomery, President of the Illinois Federation of Teachers and high school English teacher. “With the breadth of serious challenges in higher education, now more than ever, faculty need to speak with a collective voice. A union will allow these educators to work with administration to ensure the best possible university experience for students.” 

The name of the new union will be the United Faculty Alliance of Northern Illinois University (UFA). UFA has supporters across campus and among all ranks of tenure-line faculty. It would represent more than 600 tenured and tenure-track faculty members at NIU.

UFA is affiliated with the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the University Professionals of Illinois, American Federation of Teachers, and the American Association of University Professors.

The University Professionals of Illinois, Local 4100 is the recognized leader in academic collective bargaining for higher education in Illinois, representing 3,000 members at the bargaining tables of seven of Illinois’ twelve public universities. These institutions include Chicago State University, Eastern Illinois University, Governor’s State University, Northeastern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, University of Illinois-Springfield, and Western Illinois University.

The Illinois Federation of Teachers represents 103,000 teachers and paraprofessionals in PreK-12 school districts throughout Illinois, faculty and staff at Illinois’ community colleges and universities, public employees under every statewide elected constitutional officer, and retirees. University Professionals of Illinois is Local 4100 of the IFT/AFT.

The mission of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is to advance academic freedom and shared governance; to define fundamental professional values and standards for higher education; to promote the economic security of faculty, academic professionals, graduate students, post
doctoral fellows, and all those engaged in teaching and research in higher education; to help the higher education community organize to make our goals a reality; and to ensure higher education's contribution to the common good. Founded in 1915, the AAUP has helped to shape American higher education by developing the standards and procedures that maintain quality in education and academic freedom in this country's colleges and universities.

The American Federation of Teachers is a union of 1.6 million professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through the work our members do.