UPI to hold strike authorization vote: Faculty to vote Wednesday following prolonged negotiations

Nicholas Ebelhack, editor-in-chief

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The University Professionals of Illinois (UPI) Local 4100 intend to hold a strike authorization vote on April 18 after contract negotiations have continued to drag on for over a year.

Negotiations began in December of 2016 between UPI and the Western Illinois University administration and have continued through the present following numerous mediated and unmediated negotiation sessions. According to a statement to Tri States Public Radio, UPI president Bill Thompson said that the vote is the move the union needs to make.

“Given the information that we have received from the other side, taking all that into account, we decided that this was the time to ask our members to consider taking this step,” Thompson said.

The announcement comes after 65 percent of voting faculty members stated that they had no confidence in Western’s administration. The university’s Board of Trustees released a statement in support of the administration following the vote.

Should UPI members approve a strike authorization, a 10-day cooling period is established before members would be allowed to strike. Following that, a one day filing period would be in place to inform the university of the intent to strike, meaning that the soonest a strike could occur would be late April or early May.

If the strike authorization vote passes, the members would have the ability to strike until a contract agreement is reached.

Western Contract Administrator Russ Morgan released a statement on behalf of the university in response to the announcement of the vote.

“We urge our faculty to vote against an authorization to strike, remain in the classroom, and remain committed to our students,” Morgan said. “Our students have entrusted their education to Western Illinois University. They deserve the education for which they have paid. With approximately four weeks remaining in the Spring 2018 semester, we need to live up to our commitment to our students.”

Even if UPI authorizes a strike, one may not occur. An additional mediation session has been scheduled following the most recent mediation session on April 5.

“Our commitment to our students is matched by our commitment to the mediation process,” continues Morgan’s statement. “An additional mediation session has been scheduled for April 23. The administration’s goal from the beginning has been to reach a sustainable and fiscally responsible agreement with UPI Local 4100.”

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