Members of the University Professionals of Illinois (UPI) Local 4100 will hold a strike authorization vote on the Macomb and Quad Cities campuses as contract talks with the administration drag on. The union represents faculty, advisors, admissions counselors, and other counselors, according to Chapter President Bill Thompson.
“Given the information that we have received from the other side, taking all that into account, we decided that this was the time to ask our members to consider taking this step,” said Thompson.
He declined to go into details about the negotiations.
Contract talks between the union and the WIU administration began in December 2016. Thompson said the union at that time proposed a two-year contract extension with no raises, but the administration turned it down. The talks are now being aided by a federal mediator.
Thompson said the UPI negotiating team unanimously agreed to bring the call for a strike authorization vote to the UPI Executive Board, which unanimously agreed to poll union members on it.
He said if members approve the strike authorization on Wednesday, April 18, the union will likely file its ten day intent to strike notice the next day.
“If we receive strike authorization, there will be a ten day cooling off period and then a one day filing period. And that would be the earliest point at which a strike could possibly be called,” Thompson said.
He said employees are not required to walk out at that point and he said the strike authorization will remain in place until a contract agreement is reached.
“We still hope for a mutually beneficial and fair resolution to our contract discussions,” Thompson said.
This is the latest sign of unrest at WIU. In voting last month, 65% of faculty members who cast ballots said they did not have confidence in the administration. That vote did not sway the WIU Board of Trustees, which issued a statement saying it still supports the administration.
In response to the upcoming strike authorization vote, the following statement was issued on behalf of the WIU administration from WIU Contract Administrator and Associate Provost Russ Morgan:
Despite ongoing mediation sessions, it has come to our attention that the UPI Local 4100 Chapter intends to call upon its members to vote for an authorization to strike. We understand that the vote will take place Wednesday, April 18. If the vote passes, an intent to strike may be filed with the WIU Board of Trustees. An authorization to strike does not mean there will be a strike.
We urge our faculty to vote against an authorization to strike, remain in the classroom, and remain committed to our students. Our students have entrusted their education to Western Illinois University. They deserve the education for which they have paid. With approximately four weeks remaining in the Spring 2018 semester, we need to live up to our commitment to our students.
Our commitment to our students is matched by our commitment to the mediation process. An additional mediation session has been scheduled for April 23. The administration's goal from the beginning has been to reach a sustainable and fiscally responsible agreement with UPI Local 4100.