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UIS faculty to file intent to strike

UIS faculty union members voted Wednesday to authorize an intent to strike. A notice will be filed Thursday with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board.

The first day faculty could walk out Is May 2.

Kristi Barnwell is the president of the University Professionals of Illinois-Springfield United Faculty.

“We authorized the vote in the hopes of making sure that the administration recognized how serious and deeply frustrated faculty are with the current state of negotiations, and with the ways in which leadership fails to honor the work and recognize the work that faculty do here on this campus,” she said

They want a contract after being without one since August.

More negotiations are set for Friday. UIS officials have said they are dealing with financial woes.

Barnwell said the union doesn’t want to strike, and have sought additional bargaining sessions.

“What this pandemic has taught us is that faculty will go out of their way to do the best they can to meet students where they are. But administration management at this campus has asked more and more and more of faculty while providing fewer resources.” Barnwell said “And that’s a trend that was already taking place before the pandemic, and it’s been exacerbated by the pandemic. And now here we are on the other side of this being told that, that we’re not valued, and that is what faculty are extremely upset about.”

The university’s administration issued a statement after the vote on Wednesday.

“The University has learned that the UIS United Faculty, which represents 134 tenured and tenure-track faculty, has announced a vote to authorize a strike and plans to file an intent-to-strike notice with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) tomorrow, April 21. While we are disappointed, holding a strike authorization vote is not uncommon in the negotiation process. It gives the union the option to call for a strike, once all the legal requirements and timelines are met, but doesn’t necessarily mean a strike will occur. The University will continue to negotiate in good faith.

We know that our students, faculty and staff are counting on us to work tirelessly to bring this to a successful conclusion as soon as possible. Our next scheduled bargaining sessions are April 22, 25 and 27, and the parties are currently discussing additional dates.

We greatly value and appreciate our faculty, and we are committed to the academic success of our students. I am hopeful that we will be able to reach a fair, sustainable and fiscally responsible agreement—at the bargaining table—with which both parties can be satisfied.”

—UIS Interim Chancellor Karen Whitney

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