CHARLESTON, Ill. (WCIA) — For weeks faculty and staff at EIU have been negotiating for better salaries and lighter work loads. Tonight 92 percent of the faculty and staff union members voted to ratify the latest contract.

“I think whether it’s exactly what we wanted we’ll never get that when bargaining but I think we got it for our members and I think it’s been very good for other universities in the state,” said EIU UPI President Jennifer Stringfellow.

Faculty and staff will be getting a raise. The first year will be a 5 percent increase, year two will be 4 percent, and years 3 and 4 will be 3 percent increases. 

The new contract expands parental leave, giving it to both parents and for people who adopt and foster. It also allows employees to take the time sooner than before. 

Stringfellow believes EIU UPI help set the standard for other colleges to follow.

“I think that that has been maybe a catalyst to help Chicago State get settled, Governor state get settled Northeastern Illinois University didn’t even have to go on strike and Western Illinois University is probably not going to go on strike,” said Stringfellow.

In a statement Stringfellow said:

Tonight, we participated in the democratic process, and EIU UPI members voted to accept our tentative agreement. I am proud of this contract, but more so, I’m proud of each and every one of our members who walked long days on the picket line, chanted, rallied, marched, shared our story with neighbors and the media, connected with each other, uplifted our students, and strengthened our community. When we delivered our intent to strike to President Glassman last month, we made the decision to do whatever it took to stand up for our profession and to improve learning conditions for our students. Because of our resolve and solidarity, we did just that.”

In that same statement, Billy Hung, the lead negotiator for EIU UIP said:

“The parental leave proposal alone was a needed improvement to our contract and brings equity to our members starting a family. The raises we fought for are fair and help to make up for the ones we sacrificed to help our institution through Governor Rauner’s budget crisis. And the workload protections we won will continue to make Eastern a well-supported learning environment for students. We can’t thank our students and community enough for their tremendous outpouring of support for EIU UPI members – during our year of bargaining and especially while we were on strike. This was not easy, but we have come out of it stronger as a union and as a university community.”