UIC Faculty Sets Another Strike Date
By Chuck Sudo in News on Apr 10, 2014 6:00PM
Photo credit: Aaron Cynic/Chicagoist
The next time University of Illinois at Chicago faculty form picket lines to fight for fair and equitable salaries they won’t be heading back to work after a couple days.
The UIC Faculty Union voted Wednesday night to go on strike April 23. It would be their second strike action of the year following a two-day walk off in February. This time, however, the strike would be indefinite if their demands aren’t met.
“The heart of UIC is its faculty and its students, but the Illinois board of trustees shortchange them both,” UICUF president Joe Persky said. “They take more of our students’ tuition money, and even with hundreds of millions in profits each year and more than a billion dollars in reserves, they refuse to pay professors what they're worth. Many of our faculty who teach our first-year students only make $30,000 a year.”
“The administration’s priorities don’t match our mission,” Persky added, “and after trying to negotiate a fair contract for two years, they leave us no choice but to strike again. It’s time for the University to settle this contract now."
UIC officials contend the minimum salaries for faculty is “competitive” with those of teachers at other colleges but have allowed there is room for a pay raise. The two sides have held more than 60 bargaining sessions in the past 18 months. Recent negotiations following the February strike found the two sides reaching common ground on more issues, while the vital ones involving pay equity, out of pocket health insurance costs and a commitment to improving learning conditions for students remain unsolved.
The union is asking the Illinois Board of Trustees to settle the dispute through binding arbitration, which UIC President Bob Easter has refused so far. UIC also wants restrictions on the “fair share” provision in place in similar contracts at other universities.
UIC spokesman Bill Burton told the Tribune a strike is not in the best interest of faculty, students or the university. Persky said faculty will strike “if the University forces us to do so.”
“We realize it could hurt our students, and hope it does not come to that,” Persky said. “But we are fighting for them as well, and the administration has the money and ability to avoid this disruption.”