Professors at the University of Illinois Springfield could go on strike. That’s the result of a vote this week by United Faculty, a chapter of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. Kristi Barnwell, a history professor and vice-president of the faculty union, says the vote doesn’t necessarily mean they will strike.
“We’re still hoping that we don’t have to, and that the university’s administration will make some meaningful progress in negotiations at our next bargaining session," she says. "But we needed to let them know that the option is on the table, and our membership is ready if it comes down to that.”
Back when it was called Sangamon State University, the Springfield campus had a faculty union. But since joining the University of Illinois system in the mid-1990s, professors have been without a bargaining unit. For more than a year, they’ve been trying to get an agreement that would retain the rights they had before. Now, frustrated by the slow pace of talks, they’ve voted to authorize a strike.
Barnwell says negotiations have thus far been more about grievance procedures and tenure than dollars and cents.
“We also have some economic requests, but what we’ve been stalling out on is those non-economic requests that are important to creating stability on this campus for both faculty and students,” she says.
The administration’s response, however, focuses on money. In an email, spokesperson Derek Schnapp said the union submitted salary and wage requests two days ago, and the request is being reviewed.