CHARLESTON, Ill. (WCIA) — Members of the faculty and staff union at Eastern Illinois University gathered outside of the president’s office today. They say they want to change, or they’re prepared to walk off the job.
“Fair contracts. When do we want it? Now. What do we want? Fair contracts. When do we want it? Now,” the call for change echoed throughout EIU’s administration building. Faculty and staff members filled the hall to re-iterate their demands.
“This is not easy for any of us to do and look at how many people are here to say, ‘be fair, just be fair,’” said Jennifer Stringfellow, professor and union president.
Stringfellow says the University’s proposal was anything but. She says union members have seen a 17% increase in their workload, but EIU only offered a one percent pay raise.
“Basically, what they want is for us to do more work for less money and that’s just unacceptable,” said Stringfellow. “We’ve already done that.”
“Choose to invest in the employees that work day and day and day. We have had enough,” said John Miller, Local 4100 President, “It’s time for a fair contract.”
She says they’ve already had to sacrifice, like in 2016 when the union agreed to defer salaries to help balance the budget. Now, she says they’re asking for the school to put its students first and pay their staff what they deserve.
“We care about the quality of the work that we can do for our students,” said Billy Hung, EIU UPI Lead Negotiator, “So much we are ready to put our paycheck on the line to strike for it,”
Union leaders say if they don’t come to an agreement in 10 days, they’re prepared to take things a step further.
“If there is no movement at the bargaining table on salaries or workloads, we’re striking,” said Hung. “Can’t be more simple than that.”