UIC faculty plan two-day strike

Written By BY STEFANO ESPOSITO Staff Reporter Posted: 02/17/2014, 08:17pm

University of Illinois at Chicago faculty are planning to walk off the job Tuesday — the first faculty strike in the university’s 30-plus-year history, union officials said.

The planned two-day strike, which involves approximately 1,100 full-time tenured and nontenured faculty members, comes after 18 months of negotiations with some 60 bargaining sessions, said Joseph Persky, a UIC economics professor and head of the union.

“It’s time for the administration to move off their game plan — which seems to be to push it to the very last moment — and get a deal done,” Persky said Monday.

The next bargaining session is scheduled for Friday.

The key issue, Persky said, is wages — particularly for the approximately 70 nontenured full-time lecturers who earn a $30,000 annual minimum. The union says those lecturers deserve a $45,000 minimum. The administration is offering a raise in the mid-$30,000s, beginning in the next academic year.

“We’re looking to make them real active members of their departments, as opposed to being treated like academic gypsies,” Persky said.

The union is also seeking a 4.5 percent merit pay increase for the current academic year, while the administration is offering 3.25 percent — with no guarantees for future years, Persky said.

“We understand the state (of Illinois) has some financial difficulties, but the university is in fine financial shape, as testified by their Moody’s bond ratings and by their auditor’s reports,” Persky said.

Bill Burton, a UIC spokesman, described the negotiations as “a very long and arduous process,” particularly because the union formed only about two years ago.

“It’s a blank page. There is no template,” Burton said.

The strike doesn’t affect teaching or graduate assistants, who are in a separate bargaining unit. The disagreement also doesn’t involve professors at UIC school’s of medicine, dentistry or pharmacy, Burton said.

“None of our clinical operations are affected,” Burton said. “Everything is open.”

For more information about the planned strike, go to facultycollectivebargaining.uic.edu.

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Twitter: @slesposito

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