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July 17, 1995


Administrative Review of Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. No. 92RC0008C.

As Corrected July 31, 1995.

Honorable Robert W. Cook, J., Honorable James A. Knecht, P.j., Honorable Carl A. Lund, J., Concurring

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cook

JUSTICE COOK delivered the opinion of the court:

In October 1991, Harper College Adjunct Faculty Association, IEA/NEA (Association), filed a representation petition, seeking to represent a unit of all part-time faculty teaching at least six hours per semester at William Rainey Harper Community College 512 (College). On June 7, 1993, the administrative law judge (ALJ) held that the individuals in the proposed unit were not short-term employees, that the unit was appropriate, and directed an election in the proposed unit. In October 1993, the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (Board) reversed the ALJ's decision and directed an election in a modified unit. (Harper College, 10 Pub. Employee Rep. (Ill.) par. 1002, No. 92-RC-0008-C (Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, Oct. 26, 1993) (hereinafter 10 Pub. Employee Rep. (Ill.) par. 1002).) The College appeals, arguing the Board incorrectly interpreted section 2(q) of the Act defining "short-term employee."

The College has three categories of faculty: probationary employees, tenured faculty, and adjunct faculty. Probationary employees and tenured faculty are full-time faculty who teach at least 30 credit hours per academic year. The College's academic calendar is based on a 16-week semester system. During a semester, adjunct faculty can receive assignments ranging from a one-day seminar to more than one full semester course. The College currently employs about 500 adjunct faculty, and there are about 100 new adjunct faculty each year. The College defines adjunct faculty in both a guidebook for adjunct faculty and in its policy manual as:

"Part-time faculty who have a workload of fewer than 24 contact hours or equivalent workload per academic year, i.e., fall and spring semesters.

3. The appointment places no obligation on the College for renewal or to specify cause for nonrenewal and does not create a right to full-time employment." 10 Pub. Employee Rep. (Ill.) par. 1002, at IX-3.

Adjunct faculty are hired on the basis of need or student demand. When hired, they sign a document entitled "'Terms and Conditions of Employment,'" which states "'it is further understood that employment as an adjunct (temporary) faculty member shall not count towards completion of the probationary period for consideration of tenure.'" (10 Pub. Employee Rep. (Ill.) par. 1002, at IX-4.) After being hired, adjunct faculty also receive a form entitled "'Salary Notification and Assignment,'" which states:

"It is understood that the College reserves the right to cancel any or all of the above assignments at the discretion of the College, making this statement of intent null and void, and that the foregoing provisions are subject to the Harper College Board policy." (10 Pub. Employee Rep. (Ill.) par. 1002, at IX-4.)

The College sometimes cancels an adjunct's assignment for various reasons, including insufficient student demand or assignment of a full-time faculty member to teach the course. Although adjunct faculty members can be reassigned if their initial assignment is cancelled, they have no right to reassignment. Adjunct faculty accrue no seniority at the College. No adjunct faculty member receives an assignment longer than one 16-week semester, nor do they receive any assurance of reassignment. However, some adjunct faculty have taught at the College for more than 10 years.

Adjunct faculty are compensated on a separate salary schedule based on the number of hours taught, level of education, and teaching experience. All adjunct faculty receive a College identification card valid for a full academic year and a parking sticker with no expiration date for the College faculty parking area. They are eligible for one day of sick or personal leave without loss of pay for each class section taught. They are also eligible for a tuition waiver beginning with their third semester of employment. Professional development courses are available, and the students and department chairs or coordinators evaluate each adjunct faculty member's teaching performance. 10 Pub. Employee Rep. (Ill.) par. 1002, at IX-4.

The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (Act) (115 ILCS 5/2(q) (West 1992)) provides a mechanism by which "educational employees" may elect a representative for collective-bargaining purposes and may receive redress for violations of their employment rights. (115 ILCS 5/3 (West 1992).) An "educational employee" is defined as any individual employed full- or part-time by an educational employer. (115 ILCS 5/2(b) (West 1992).) "Short-term employees" cannot be "educational employees." However, an employee is not a "short-term employee" unless he or she is:

"[(1)] employed for less than 2 consecutive calendar quarters during a calendar year and [(2)] *** does not have a reasonable assurance that he or she will be rehired by the same employer for the same service in a subsequent ...

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