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Striking faculty return to class Friday at EIU, will vote next week on a tentative contract

The Old Main administrative building on the campus of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

As of 8 AM Friday, class is back in session at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.

A week-long strike by the union representing faculty and support staff is on hold, while members consider the administration’s contract proposal.

A ratification vote is expected sometime next week, although a date has not been set.

University Professionals of Illinois local president Jennifer Stringfellow said in a Thursday night news release that their bargaining team has not endorsed the contract proposal, because it did not include an offer allowing union members to make up work missed during the strike. The union called such provisions common for end-of-strike agreements. However, union membership decided to suspend their strike and vote on the contract proposal anyway.

“This line in the sand that they have drawn is the reality, and we must accept it,” said Stringfellow in the UPI’s news release. “We look forward to being back in our classrooms and offices, teaching and supporting our students.”

Meanwhile, the EIU administration said in a Thursday night statement that they were pleased that striking faculty and staff would return to work Friday.

“EIU thanks all parties for their commitment to our students,” said the administration’s statement, “and willingness to collaboratively chart a pathway forward as the University and its UPI partners work together to advance EIU’s mission.”

The EIU administration said earlier this week that their “last, best and final offer” would give faculty and staff a 15% total increase in salary over four years. That’s bigger than the 12.5% proposal that Eastern President David Glassman had outlined in an op-ed piece released earlier this week.

While teachers will be back in class and support staff back in their offices at Eastern on Friday, faculty strikes continue at Chicago State and Governors State universities. A GSU bargaining session with a federal mediator ended with no resolution on Thursday, with talks set to resume Monday. 

And faculty and staff union members this week overwhelmingly approved a strike authorization question at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. That gives the NEIU bargaining team the authority to call a strike if they feel negotiations have reached an impasse.

Picture of Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows has been covering local news for WILL Radio since 2000, with occasional periods as local host for Morning Edition and All Things Considered and a stint hosting WILL's old Focus talk show. He was previously a reporter at public radio station WCBU in Peoria.

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