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Strikes suspended at three universities

By ANDREW ADAMS
Capitol News Illinois
aadams@capitolnewsillinois.com

CHICAGO – Faculty at Governors State University ended a strike on Monday after being on the picket line for five days.

Governors State was one of three Illinois universities which saw a faculty strike in the past week and the last to see their strike end.

Union members at Chicago State University ended their 10-day strike on Sunday and those at Eastern Illinois University ended their six-day strike last Thursday.

“This contract is a step towards strengthening our university and the support we can give our students, and it will contribute to attracting high-quality educators and retaining the excellent faculty and staff we have,” GSU union president Mike Hart said in a statement on Thursday.

The university’s administration shared the optimistic tone in a separate statement.

Governors State President Cheryl F. Green said the tentative contract is “an agreement that recognizes the valuable contributions of the faculty and academic support professionals to the University while at the same time recognizing the University’s fiscal realities.”

Faculty returned to classes at Governors State on Tuesday.

CSU’s strike was the longest at 10 days. Union members at CSU also held a “sit-in” protest in which representatives of the union sat inside the offices of CSU President Zaldwaynaka Scott. A video released by the union showed a university police officer requesting them to leave.

“Our members never wanted to strike, but being forced to do so has made us more unified and stronger than ever,” CSU union president Valerie Goss said in a statement when the strike was suspended.

When the two sides reached a tentative agreement, the university released a statement saying the agreement “accomplishes the goals of both parties” and addresses a wide array of subjects, including wages, workload and parental leave.

At EIU in downstate Charleston, faculty have voted to end the strike, with a ratification vote set for April 25.

The strike ended despite the bargaining teams having some disagreement over end-of-strike terms. The union’s bargaining team wanted a provision in the agreement that would have allowed professors to be paid for making up work they missed during the strike, such as grading or holding additional office hours. A union news release last week indicated this issue could delay ratification.

“EIU’s administration has demonstrated how they truly feel about the instruction and instructional support at EIU throughout this negotiation process,” EIU union president Jennifer Stringfellow said. “I have found that I’m no longer surprised when I’m disappointed by the administration of this institution.”

The university took a more optimistic tone in a short statement issued by the university’s media relations department on behalf of the university: “EIU thanks all parties for their commitment to our students and willingness to collaboratively chart a pathway forward as the University and its (union) partners work together to advance EIU’s mission.”

Bargaining is also ongoing between administrators and faculty at Northeastern Illinois University. The faculty union there voted to authorize a strike last week and has also requested mediation.

Faculty at University of Illinois Chicago went on strike for six days in January before the two sides reached an agreement. The union ratified the contract in early February.

 

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of newspapers, radio and TV stations statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.

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