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Union Charges NIU of Failing to Negotiate in Good Faith

On Behalf of | Jul 28, 2017 | Firm News

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1890, representing approximately 700 employees of Northern Illinois University (NIU), has filed a complaint against the university after the union and the university have failed to reach an agreement after nearly one and one-half years of negotiations. The complaint was filed with the Illinois Labor Relations Board after the university threatened to declare an impasse in its talks with the union.

What is Good Faith and an Impasse in Collective Bargaining?

When an employer and a union representing employees of the employer are engaged in negotiations concerning the terms and provisions of new a new employment agreement, both parties are expected to engage in these negotiations in “good faith.” This requires each party to be reasonable in the terms they are requesting the other party to accept and not to be belligerent and/or unnecessarily stubborn in their views. A party may be found to not be engaging in “good faith” in contract negotiations if, for example:

  • One party proposes contract terms that are objectively unreasonable or that are impossible for the other party to reasonably comply with;
  • One party fails to show up for negotiations or leaves negotiation sessions after a brief period of time;
  • One party insists that all of their demands are met as requested and refuses to consider alternative concessions and/or the requests and demands of the other party; and/or
  • Declaring an impasse in negotiations when too little time for meaningful negotiations has elapsed.

If one party believes that further negotiations are likely to be futile and fail to produce any beneficial results, an impasse may be declared. At that point, the employees (through the union) will need to decide whether to accept the employer’s “best offer” for a contract or to go on strike.

Wrongfully Declaring an Impasse

As noted above, declaring an impasse without allowing a sufficient amount of time for negotiations to take place and/or without honestly attempting to reach an agreement with the other side in the collective bargaining process is not to be encouraged. If the Illinois Labor Relations Board believes that NIU is prematurely declaring an impasse or otherwise acting in good faith, NIU may find itself facing significant sanctions and consequences.

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