Tenured and tenure-track professors at the University of Illinois Springfield are on strike starting today. Nearly 170 professors belong to the union that will take to the picket line this morning.
The school and the UIS United Faculty union have been trying to work out a contract for 20 months. While salaries have been part of the discussion, the sticking points have included issues of promotion and tenure.
"We did not want it to come to this, but Chancellor Koch and the U of I administration forced the strike by dragging its feet and playing games at the bargaining table," said Kristi Barnwell, History professor at UIS. "Our students deserve this to be settled and we hope that management will change course and agree to a deal that's fair to the faculty, our students, and the community."
Back when it was called Sangamon State University, the Springfield campus had a faculty union. But since joining the University of Illinois system in the mid-1990s, professors have been without a bargaining unit. For more than a year, they’ve been trying to get an agreement that would retain the rights they had before. A strike was authorized in April, although no date was set at that time.
“This is disappointing, but progress is being made in negotiations, and our campus will carry on in pursuit of our core mission. Students are at the forefront of all we do, so the work to reach a satisfactory agreement must continue,” UIS Spokesman Derek Schnapp said in a prepared statement.
The next negotiating session is set for Friday.
The university is telling students to attend class. If a professor is not there, students are being asked to wait 15 minutes before leaving. Those who are teach but are not part of the union are still expected to come to work. Students are told tom direct questions to their instructor or the academic department.
The school previously sent information to employees regarding the potential for a strike.