The University of Illinois-Chicago United Faculty members have authorized a strike. This is the third authorized strike in the U of I system this year.
Faculty have been working without a contract at the Chicago campus since August 16th. The UIC strike authorization may not have an immediate bearing on anything happening at the University of Illinois-Springfield campus at the moment, but UIS United Faculty says its indicative of a greater problem.
UIS United Faculty President Dr. Kristi Barnwell says it’s creating an environment of more internal bickering than educating students and doing academic research: “It does signal to faculty, staff, and students here that the University of Illinois system has a habit of pressing its bargaining units to authorize a strike and go on strike. For UIS, we had our strike in 2016 and we authorized a strike vote this Spring, and in both cases, these were subsequent to strike votes and authorizations that took place at the UIC and UIUC campuses. So, what this signals to us is that after all these years, the University of Illinois system still doesn’t treat its faculty, staff, and students with respect when it comes to bargaining. While we don’t necessarily anticipate this having direct ramifications for UIS this go around, it does tell us that unless the University of Illinois gets serious, we will likely be voting to authorize a strike vote in 3 years when we are up to bargain again.”
Barnwell says that UIS students have been supportive of faculty strike votes in the past, and it has not created any animosity between faculty, staff, and students. You can hear more of Dr. Barnwell’s interview in the Audio Archive.
Public Relations at the UIS Campus said they did not have a comment on the UIC strike and referred inquiries to the UIC Public Affairs Office. A message left yesterday in the UIC Public Affairs Office has not been returned as of press time.
In a press release, UIC United Faculty accuse administration of being slow to negotiate or hear terms for faculty retention, competitive salaries, and clear cut family/work balance proposals. They say that the system has consistently pushed faculty to strike during labor negotiations for the last 15 years prior to coming to the table in good faith.
UIC United Faculty say the strike could take place as early as December.