CHARLESTON, Ill. (WCIA) – A faculty strike at Eastern Illinois University is keeping administrators at the bargaining table and many students out of the classroom. Tuesday’s negotiations lasted at least five hours.
Union representatives told WCIA they expected a long night, but they just want to reach an agreement.
“In the beginning, we were like, ‘This is going to last two days. They’re going to negotiate it out. Everything’s going to happen fine,'” student Kallee Steinkamp said. “And we’re on day five so it’s like, ‘Oh, it’s not fine.'”
Many students are waiting to return to class. Union faculty members have been on strike since Thursday, working without a contract since September and bargaining for more than a year.
“I know my teachers deserve fair pay for all they do for me and the other students around here,” Steinkamp said. “I was more than willing to go march and strike with them.”
EIU President David Glassman is the highest-paid faculty member at roughly $325,000 per year plus more than $30,000 in additional compensation. EIU Union President Jennifer Stringfellow said in a news release Glassman has the lightest course load, “yet they won’t give the faculty and staff who work closely with students every day adequate compensation, even as they ask us to take on more work.” That boils the remaining points of contention down to compensation and workload.
“If it keeps going, I’m going to have to keep teaching myself without having any of my teachers to help me,” student Morgan Drozs said.
In the meantime, some classes are still in session. including Drozs’s chemistry lab, but not the lecture class paired with it.
“I had to look up how to do everything that I was supposed to learn in my lecture,” Drozs said.
Students not just worried about their studies. Some have lost access to their counselors.
“So it means a lot of students had to cancel therapy and mental health services,” Steinkamp said.
Glassman acknowledged the negotiation process is “complex, highly emotional and prolonged.” He claimed there just aren’t enough funds to fulfill the union’s request of $9 million in salary increases over the next four years, on top of rebuilding staffing and addressing maintenance concerns.
Union representatives announced a backup bargaining date for Wednesday, April 12.