These are the frequently asked questions we have received about the legalities of notices of intent to strike, striking, the questionable legality of the administration’s actions, and why imposed terms are not a contract:
A. What legal requirement is met by an “Intent to Strike Notice”?
The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act allows organized public university employees to legally strike only after certain conditions are met. In this case, proper strike notices must be filed with the IELRB (Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board) at least 10 days before a strike can legally start. That does not mean that a strike automatically starts in 10 days, but filing these notices now protects our right to strike should members decide to do so.
B. Just how does filing the “Notice of Intent to Strike” preserve our rights?
Our legal advisors have noted that if we fail to take action against the administration’s imposed terms, we may be taken to have acquiesced with or given some form of implied consent to the administration’s action, and thus lose our legal standing to file an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP).
C. What other legal requirements must be met in order to strike?
- Mediation must have been used without success
- The collective bargaining agreement, if any, must have expired
- The parties must have not submitted unresolved issues to binding arbitration
D. Would members vote on whether or not to strike?
Yes. Our organizations operate democratically. Progress or the lack thereof in the coming weeks will determine whether a strike vote will take place. Each local would conduct this decision in accordance with its own policies and bylaws. All individuals enrolled as members at the time of the votes would be eligible to vote.
E. Shouldn’t there have been a vote about these notices? Didn’t the FA do this in 2003?
In the last month, each local’s appropriate decision making body voted to authorize the filing. In 2003, SIUC FA negotiations broke down at a different point in the academic year and in different circumstances. The 2003 vote also set a deadline for reaching a contract agreement. In this instance none of the four locals has set a strike deadline or called for a strike.
F. Why not submit the administration’s “last, best, and final” offers to membership votes?
In each local, elected representatives supported their bargaining team’s view that the administration’s final offers were one-sided and absolutely unacceptable, leaving little reason for such a vote. Had we voted “yes”, the imposed terms would have become mutual and be implemented as a signed agreement we could no longer challenge. Had we voted “no”, the administration would still have imposed its terms under its “impasse to implement” strategy (see the next section). The only possible effect of a vote would have been to undermine our bargaining teams—which is why the administration called for a vote in the first place.
G. Did the administration have the legal right to impose these terms?
Not in our view. If an employer and union conduct exhaustive good faith negotiations and are genuinely unable to reach an agreement, the employer gains the legal right to impose terms. But we maintain the administration has clearly failed to meet this legal condition, and plan to file Unfair Labor Practice complaints in response.
H. If these imposed terms are illegal, how can the administration get away with this?
Our legal team is preparing an Unfair Labor Practice filing that will show the errors in the administration’s claim that it has the right to impose terms. But as the Labor Board is underfunded and understaffed, this legal action could take years to resolve. In the meantime we aim to roll back the administration’s imposed terms through negotiations and grassroots organizing.
I. Do we have a legal recourse other than waiting?
When faced with terms imposed by an employer, we have the legal right to strike under the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act. While the Board’s impasse action is legally questionable, it is absolutely clear that you have the legal right to strike.