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Season 5, Episode 18

Illinois State University faculty win union election

UFISU gray


Guest Name:

Keith Pluymers

Guest Website:


Guest Social Media:





Supportive Documents:

Keith Pluymers, a member of the bargaining team for the United Faculty of Illinois State University (UFISU) -– a chapter of University Professionals of Illinois Local 4100 — joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss their union election victory. Pluymers also discussed the issues facing faculty that led to seeking a union and the union’s next steps to earn a first contract.

The organizing efforts at Illinois State University have been difficult historically, the last organizing effort was in 2000 and it did not succeed. The most recent organizing effort began nearly two years ago. It started with faculty by holding conversations to learn more about their needs and desires. These conversations led to drafting a mission statement that was approved and signed by most of the faculty. By starting with the needs of the faculty, Pluymers said the path to a successful union vote was made easier.

Pluymers then discussed the issues faculty faced that led to seeking a union’s protection. Faculty found they worked for far less pay than their peer institutions in Illinois and nearby states. Faculty faced wage compression and wage inversions, with no major separation between long-term and new members. There were even cases of new hires making the same or more as an individual who worked for 20 years at the university. 

UFISU was the last major unit to join a union on ISU’s campus, Pluymers said. They will look to the efforts of the other bargaining units on campus for advice going into their first contract negotiations. Pluymers feels positive about the potential improvements for faculty members with a first contract. After earning their first contract, Pluymers believes that all the university's bargaining units will be able to work together to showcase the importance and strength of a unified union faculty.

Learn more about the organizing efforts of the UFISU by listening to the show above.

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