University of Illinois Chicago Faculty to Strike Tuesday After 12-Hour Bargaining Session, Months of Negotiations – NBC Chicago
Following nine months of negotiations and a contentious, 12-hour bargaining session Monday, faculty at the University of Illinois Chicago will go on strike Tuesday after the union representing faculty and university leadership failed to reach an agreement on issues including compensation, a union representative said .
“The campus is thriving, but many faculty are not,” Nicole Nguyen, Associate Professor in Criminology, Law, & Justice and a member of the UIC United Faculty (UICUF) bargaining team said in a release announcing the strike. “We have spent the past three years scrambling to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, and our whole community–students and faculty–are exhausted. Management needs to invest in resources that strengthen our entire community.”
In a message posted to UIC’s website, Karen Colley, UIC’s Acting Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, said “the parties were unable to reach a resolution on five outstanding contract items during their 31st bargaining session, the 12th session held with the guidance of an independent federal mediator,” adding that the work stoppage was “disappointing” and “not in the best interest of the university or our students.”
Where Negotiations Stand
“The biggest hurdle remains compensation,” a representative for UICUF told NBC 5 in an email Monday. According to UICUF, the two sides still remain “far apart” on issues of compensation, with UICUF citing “seven years of record enrollments and more than a billion dollars in unrestricted reserve funds as evidence that the university can afford to take demands for faculty raises seriously.”
Another sticking point, UICUF says, is workload and mental heath resources for students.
Earlier this week, campus leadership unveiled a plan in response to ongoing negotiations to commit $4.47 million over six years to enhance student mental health and well being.
While Charitianne Williams, UICUF communications chair, in an email called the initiative a “good first step”, Williams added that the union hopes “they will make more significant investments in our campus community than they have currently committed to.”
According to university leadership, both parties have agreed to resume negotiations Wednesday.
What the Strike Means for Students and Faculty
Until both sides reach a tentative agreement, faculty will be picketing between 10 am and 3 pm daily, UICUF says.
In addition, a rally will take place each day at noon on the East Camps Quad, with local legislators as well as members of the Illinois Federation of Teachers and American Federal of Teachers expected to speak, according to the union.
Campus leadership says that UIC “fully respects” the rights of its employees under the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act to demonstrate and picket peacefully, adding that “the university is committed to continuing normal operations to the fullest extent possible.”
“While the union has indicated that striking faculty will not teach their classes and labs, the decision to strike is up to each faculty member,” a statement rom leadership read in part. “Students should check Blackboard and email for information regarding the status of their specific classes and labs,” the university added. “Please plan to attend if you have not been told the class or lab is canceled.
Leadership’s statement also said that “faculty who choose to strike will not be paid during the strike.”
According to UIC officials, classes will be held as scheduled in the Colleges of Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy and School of Law, as the union in question doesn’t represent faculty in those areas.