20, No. 8, Oct. 19, 2000
Supreme court declines to hear appeal
It may take several
months or more before the university and Graduate Employees Organization
are able to resolve the issue of which graduate assistants are eligible
to vote on union representation, according to university counsel.
Earlier this month, the Illinois Supreme Court declined to hear the
universitys appeal of the appellate court ruling on the issue
of a bargaining unit for graduate students. That means that the Appellate
Court ruling stands.
For background, the state law governing collective bargaining at public
schools in Illinois defines "employees" eligible for inclusion
in bargaining units, and excludes "students" among other categories.
But the appellate court said that graduate assistants should be considered
students under the statute only if their assistantships had "significant
connection" to their education. The court said the way to determine
this is to examine the case of each graduate assistant to determine
whether there is a significant connection between the assistantship
that the student holds and his or her education.
It is likely that it will take some time to determine which of the graduate
assistants would be eligible to vote on union representation. There
are 5,289 assistants at Urbana holding 5,590 assistantships. Assistantship
duties often change each semester, and many students hold multiple assistantships.
Last year, 5,972 assistants held more than 11,000 different appointments
throughout the year.