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UIC faculty votes to authorize strike

A group of people walk through UIC's campus. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

A group of people walk through UIC's campus. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Just days after striking graduate employees reached a deal to return to work at the University of Illinois at Chicago, unionized faculty at the Near West Side school have announced they could hit the picket line later this month.

About 93 percent of UIC United Faculty members voted to authorize a strike, the union announced Thursday, after nearly a year of contract negotiations.

“This vote sends a strong message from our members that they are prepared to fight for a contract that recognizes their contributions to the core missions of the university,” UICUF Executive Vice President Aaron Krall said in a statement.

The union says the administration “refuses to adequately address the issues of compensation” and has neglected making new hires as enrollment has hit “a record high,” with 24 percent growth over the past five years.

“UIC is committed to negotiating a fair and reasonable contract with UIC United Faculty,” university spokeswoman Sherri McGinnis Gonzalez said in an email. “Our negotiating teams are scheduled to meet for the 23rd time on Friday, April 12, and we remain hopeful that we can come to an agreement and avoid a faculty strike.”

On Monday, more than 1,500 members of UIC Graduate Employees Organization returned to work after a two-week strike that they say netted them benefits including a 14-percent wage increase over three years and reduced health care costs. The graduate workers will vote to ratify that deal next week.

The faculty union didn’t set a strike date, but said it could happen “later this month” barring a new deal. The previous contract, which covers about 1,200 full-time tenure and non-tenure track faculty at UIC, expired in August.

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