NIU ordered to rescind parking fees as part of union negotations

DeKALB – After being found in violation of state statutes over labor contract negotiations, Northern Illinois University was ordered to rescind the increased cost of employee parking permits established last year.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1890, which represents around 700 clerical and other workers at the school, began negotiations with NIU for its first contract in February 2016, and has yet to reach an agreement.

When the university announced in May 2016 that parking fees would increase, the union argued to keep the fees at the status quo until a contract agreement was reached.

AFSCME representative Sara Dorner then notified the university that parking fees could be negotiated once the fees were restored to their original cost and employees who already bought the permits were reimbursed.

When the fees were not changed, the union filed an unlawful labor practice charge against NIU for increasing the cost, which had not been done since 2011, by $19.

An administrative law judge eventually ruled that NIU refrain from modifying any condition of employment before coming to an agreement or reaching an impasse and to restore the earlier parking rates.

NIU appealed this decision, which was then taken before the Illinois Educational Labor Relations board. After reviewing the situation, the board ordered NIU to rescind the parking fee changes for union members and pay back the increased parking amount plus seven percent interest. It also must cease and desist from changing the parking fees without bargaining to an agreement or impasse, records show.

NIU’s legal department is reviewing whether it has grounds for appeal.