Southern Illinois U. at Carbondale Is Ordered to Pay Workers for Furloughs

The administration of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale acted illegally by failing to bargain in good faith with three unions representing faculty and staff members in 2011 and should compensate the employees for losses they suffered when the university imposed furlough days that year, an administrative-law judge with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board has found.

In a ruling issued last month, Judge Colleen Harvey said the university had pushed the three unions “to the point of impasse” during contract disputes that year so that it could impose its final offer on the bargaining units.

The president of one of those units, Rachel Stocking of the SIUC Faculty Association, which represents about 600 tenure-track faculty members, said in a written statement that the ruling “represents a victory not only for the unions that filed the unfair-labor-practice charge and the employees they represent, but also for the principles and practice of good-faith collective bargaining.”

The unions estimate that compensating employees for the four furlough days will cost the university about $1.9-million.

But Judge Harvey’s decision is unlikely to be the last word on the subject. In a statement quoted by a local newspaper, The Southern Illinoisan, the university said it “respectfully disagreed” with the judge’s findings and was considering its legal options. Those include an appeal to the full labor board and, after that, possibly further appeals through the state court system.

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