Western Courier

UPI authorizes strike: Mediation to continue through cooling period

UPI+members+pickett+along+Jackson+Street+at+Chandler+Park+earlier+this+semester+due+to+prolonged+contract+negotiations.
UPI members pickett along Jackson Street at Chandler Park earlier this semester due to prolonged contract negotiations.

UPI members pickett along Jackson Street at Chandler Park earlier this semester due to prolonged contract negotiations.

Nicholas Ebelhack/ Editor-In-Chief

Nicholas Ebelhack/ Editor-In-Chief

UPI members pickett along Jackson Street at Chandler Park earlier this semester due to prolonged contract negotiations.

Nicholas Ebelhack, editor-in-chief

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University Professionals of Illinois (UPI) Local 4100 chapter members voted Wednesday to authorize a strike following prolonged contract negotiations that date back to December of 2016 with the Western Illinois University administration.

The vote, which will allow for the UPI leadership to call for a strike following a cooling period of 10 calendar days, had “an overwhelming majority” according to the union’s Facebook page.

UPI released a statement that night from Union President Bill Thompson.

“Our goal with contract negotiations is to move Western Illinois University forward while allowing the institution to retain and attract quality faculty and academic support professionals,” Thompson said. “Unfortunately, management is not yet on board with this plan, so we decided to have this vote to allow the bargaining team to call a strike if management continues not to listen to our united voice.”

In the statement, Thompson said that the union is seeking a mutually beneficial contract for the university community.

“We aren’t asking for the world,” Thompson said, “but the University can afford to give us a reasonable contract that will allow us to keep and retain the high quality faculty and staff that will provide a better future for all of us and make Western Illinois University, the Right Choice for our students.”

Western’s contract administrator Russ Morgan responded to the vote in a statement from the university, saying the university hopes a strike can be avoided but if one occurs university operations would continue.

“If a strike should occur, it is the University’s intent to continue classes as scheduled and continue WIU’s mission of providing a quality education to its students,” Morgan said. “With approximately three weeks remaining in the Spring 2018 semester, we understand the importance to the students of staying on track, particularly for those set to graduate next month.”

An additional mediation session has been scheduled for April 23, which would be before UPI members would be allowed to file for a strike. According to the UPI Facebook page, members intend to march in solidarity to those negotiations.

Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Kathy Neumann made a statement directed at students, stating that the university expects that a strike would not hinder the university’s commitment to their education.

“It is the University’s intent to continue classes as scheduled, and students should attend classes as usual,” Neumann said. “It is our expectation that learning continues and you receive the quality education for which you have paid. In addition, commencement ceremonies at both campuses will be held as scheduled.”

“Our goal is to ensure that you receive the grades and credits for those classes in which you are enrolled,” continues Neumann’s statement, “and the University will review all options for mitigating any disruptions to our students’ educational pursuits.

A series of student-related FAQ’s were published as well on the university’s negotiations update webpage at wiu. edu/provost/negotiationsupdate. php, which details concerns about commencement, attending classes and who would teach classes taught by striking teachers.

In a statement from UPI media contact Jim La Prad to Tri States Public Radio, he said that although members have no plan to strike currently, the vote is necessary for their negotiations to continue towards a contract.

“We believe having the authority is necessary at this time to show the administration that there’s a unity of one voice,” LaPrad said.

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
UPI authorizes strike: Mediation to continue through cooling period