CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University officials bargained in bad faith with the Carbondale campus' unions during 2011 contract talks and owes 1,500 current and former employees $1.9 million in back pay for furlough days they were forced to take, an administrative law judge has ruled.
The university said in a statement Monday that it respectfully disagrees with the ruling by the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board's Colleen Harvey and is weighing its legal options, WSIU Radio reported.
In her 56-page ruling issued last month and made public Monday, Harvey concluded that SIU illegally pushed three campus unions to the point of impasse. The back pay Harvey ordered involves four furlough days imposed upon the school's faculty and staff in 2011.
Harvey wrote that SIU's administration at that time "demonstrated that it lacked an open mind and a sincere desire to reach an agreement," the (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan reported.
The SIU administrators involved in 2010 and 2011 contract talks with the unions no longer are with the university, which has a new president, Carbondale chancellor and provost.
The unions call Harvey's ruling vindication. Rachel Stocking, president of the SIU Faculty Association union whose members went on a six-day strike in November 2011, said she hopes Harvey's ruling positively impacts current contract talks and makes the bargainers recognize their legal responsibilities in the negotiations.
While insisting it remains committed to partnering with unions, the university said its recourses in challenging Harvey's ruling could include asking for the full labor relations board to review the matter or appealing it to a court.