Indeed, the number of union petitions filed with the state has increased by more than 25 percent compared with last year, according to Fred Wickizer
, acting executive director for the Illinois Labor Relations Board
.The state received 197 petitions in fiscal year 2004, which ended June 30, compared with 145 in fiscal year 2003 and 100 in fiscal year 2002.
The increase in the number of representative petitions has been particularly dramatic among state employees, says Wickizer
-- requests swelled from 10 in fiscal year 2003 to 51 in fiscal year 2004.
This is somewhat unexpected, says Wickizer
, given that workers represented by union petitions must be told within 120 days whether they've been accepted.
admits that the processing time for some union petitions has slowed.Not surprisingly, he
points to staffing cuts at his
agency that have made it difficult to respond to the increased volume of contested petitions.In the last two decades, he
says, the state Labor Relations Board has been slashed from 53 to just 21 employees.
says that his
agency is perceived as politically neutral and declines comment on the pending act.But he
concedes that the already depleted labor board would face serious difficulties handling an influx of new union applicants.
"I expect we would have several hundred more cases than we've ever gotten before," he