Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Academic Discipline

Community College Leadership


The purpose of this study was to identify how faculty union leaders gather data and incorporate past experience to prioritize decisions for new contract negotiations in Illinois community colleges. The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 legalized collective bargaining in the United States, but state laws further regulate collective bargaining and make such agreements enforceable under state law. The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (IELRA) requires educational employers to bargain in good faith with the employees’ exclusive representative.

Specifically, this qualitative case-study research sought to identify the strategies undertaken by community college faculty union leaders to prepare for, and prioritize decisions for upcoming contract negotiations. Five Illinois community college faculty union leaders were interviewed and asked to provide insight into this process. Data gathering was identified as an essential first step in the process, offering constituents the opportunity to voice their concerns regarding the existing contract. While this step may be modified as needed to fit the parameters of the negotiation, this step cannot be bypassed. It establishes the first link in the need for open communication between the negotiation team and union members. Validation of decisions by the lead negotiator occurs as a means to substantiate the list of issues for negotiation. Union affiliates and local union leaders are consulted most often. Experience of the lead negotiator grows more important for contentious negotiations, as the more experienced negotiators relied on their own instincts and ability to interact with and read administrative team members.

The study concluded that the type of bargaining practiced by the college, whether interest-based or distributive, held the most influence over the pre-negotiation process. Interest-based negotiations were more inclusive of faculty concerns. The faculty negotiation team was an essential source of information and support for each of the union leaders.