Western Illinois University faculty voted Wednesday to authorize a strike and filed an intent to strike Thursday with the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board, said Jim La Prad, spokesman for the University Professionals of Illinois (UPI), Local 4100.
Declining to reveal the exact vote total, he said Thursday that 80 percent of the 600-plus union members — a total that includes faculty and other staff in Macomb and the Quad-Cities — cast ballots, and an overwhelming majority voted to empower the union executive board to support the bargaining team as it negotiates with Western Illinois' administration.
“We stand for a mutually beneficial future: a better future for our students, for our members, for WIU’s employees and for our community,” William There is a 10-day waiting period before any strike could take place, La Prad said.
The union will hold a rally at 2 p.m. Monday at Dividends Cafe on the Macomb campus, the same day the union and administration contract negotiators are scheduled for a bargaining session with a federal mediator.
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In 2016, the union deferred a previously negotiated 3 percent salary increase, equivalent to a $3.2 million give-back to Western, according to UPI.
Russ Morgan, Western's contract administrator and associate provost, said after the vote that the strike authorization didn't mean a strike would occur, “and we hope a strike can be avoided.”
“If a strike should occur, it is the university's intent to continue classes as scheduled,” Dr. Morgan said, noting there are just three weeks remaining in the spring semester, with graduations scheduled May 12 in Macomb and May 13 in Moline.
“It is our hope that a tentative agreement is reached prior to an intent to strike being filed or the union initiating a strike,” he said. “Negotiations have been taking place since October 2016, and a federal mediator has been working with both sides since October 30, 2017. The university administration requested mediation in September 2017 after 10 months of stalled negotiations.”
The latest proposals can be found at wiu.edu/provost/negotiationsupdate.php.