IEA Legal Analysis of Chancellor Cheng’s FAQ
“Under the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (115 ILCS 5/1 et seq.) (“Act”), Graduate Assistants (“GA’s”) are legally entitled to strike. In fact, Section 3 affords GAs the right to “organize, form, join, or assist in employee organizations or engage in lawful concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid and protection or bargain collectively through representatives of their own free choice …[and] have the right to refrain from any or all such activities.”
According to the Act, SIUC would be guilty of an “unfair labor practice” for “interfering, restraining or coercing employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed under this Act.” SIUC would also be guilty of an unfair labor practice for “discriminating in regard to hire or tenure or employment or any term or condition of employment to encourage or discourage membership in any employee organization.
With this legal backdrop, it is our belief that SIUC is in violation of the Labor Act when it:
- Threatened GA s that they were “[choosing] between participating in a strike or continuing [their] work/education.”
- As the University is aware, under the Act, GA’s have the legal right to strike without losing their employment or adversely affecting their student status.
- Threatened GA s that there were “consequences and risks that they will experience if they individually choose to strike.”
- As the University is well aware, under the Act, GA’s cannot be subject to “consequences and risks” affecting their employment or student status for engaging in a strike.
- Threatened all faculty with reprisals for engaging in a strike that results in the cancellation of classes.
- As the University is aware that under the Act, accusing faculty of cancelling classes and threatening to discipline those same faculty members simply because they voted to strike, is an illegal restraint on the faculty members’ Section 3 rights as stated above.
- Threatened GA s by stating, “Graduate Assistants who go on strike, rather than work, put at risk their eligibility for a waiver of tuition and partial payment of their Health Service fee, which may make them fully responsible for payment of tuition and fees.”
- Again, the University is well aware that, under the Act it cannot threaten, much less take putative action against GA s in the form of tuition waivers and/or Health Service fees simply because they engaged in a labor strike.
- Threatened that GAs who struck would not receive any of their compensation, including stipend, tuition or other forms of compensation.
- The University knows that you have the legal right to strike. It knows that a strike can shift the power balance to you. It has chosen to engage in scare campaign instead of putting their resources into a fair contract.