What’s the future of the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois? It’s an independent institution now, but the university is considering merging it, possibly into the school of business or liberal arts. “Being part of a bigger college would give us some resources and access that we don’t have right now. We’re constrained by our classroom (which is) not big enough for bigger classes, and just being part of this bigger unit would gain us resources,” said interim dean Fritz Drasgow, testifying at a hearing before the Illinois House Economic Development Committee.
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But organized labor is having none of it. “From our perspective, we feel that labor is being attacked yet again,” said Jason Keller, legislative director for the Illinois AFL-CIO. They worry a loss of independence would affect both research and teaching. The school was founded in 1946 and now has 195 graduate students in it. The university says any change would require a vote of the faculty, a public hearing, approval by the president and a vote by the Board of Trustees. The Economic Development Committee is not considering legislation, but the chairman asked university officials not to be hasty with this.