CHARLESTON, Ill. (WCIA) — EIU faculty are trying to bring attention to their contract dispute with the university. They’ve been bargaining for months for a new deal.
You could call it a history lesson outside the classroom. It’s like a walk out, but instead they were giving lectures about the importance of unions.
They said the main goal of the “teach out” is to show students how the faculty is fighting for them. And they are fighting for a new contract.
“We knew we were very bold in the proposals that we made, because we are the ones that have to demand to bargain. We knew that,” said special education professor Jennifer Stringfellow. “I think we were all a little surprised, and I’m going to use the word I will use a lot today and tomorrow – insulted, by the response from the administration.”
The union said EIU wants to increase class sizes and the number of classes a faculty member has to teach.
“My working conditions are my students learning conditions,” said Jeannie Ludlow, an English professor.
Teachers say they’re being expected to do a lot more, for little in return.
They said the university proposed a 17% workload increase alongside a 1% pay increase.
“If I’m teaching more classes, I have less time outside of class to meet with students and help them with individual research projects,” Ludlow said. “That kind of thing. So, they’re wanting us to be busier. We want to be better for students.”
Union members said they’ve been negotiating since March, but they feel their voices have been falling on deaf ears.
“Well, my hope is that it brings some urgency to the administration side to start offering real proposals and start asking and coming to the table with the proposals that are respectful and reflective of the needs of this campus,” said John Miller, Local 4100 president.
They hope their students understand why they’re out here.
“Hoping that the students will help bring that message back,” Miller added. “The administration will see that this is a bigger issue that we’re all in, but we all have to be in.”
One student in attendance said the issue hits home for her.
“Unions to speak up collectively is something that needs to be protected,” Silas Roemer said. “And I’m proud that our school is able to be that place for locals to do so.”
Union officials said they are expecting a long negotiation process, but that won’t stop them from speaking up for the students.
“I mean, we’ll be back,” Miller said. “We’ll continue to put pressure on the board and around the administration to do what’s right for the students of EIU’s campus.”
We’ve reached out to the university for comment. We are awaiting their response.