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UIC full-time faculty reach tentative contract deal with school, averting strike

UIC officials meet today with UIC United Faculty leaders today to prevent a faculty strike on campus | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

The union representing full-time faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago reached a tentative contract agreement Monday with university administration, preventing the second major strike to hit the campus during April.

Talks resumed between UIC United Faculty and school officials Monday afternoon, a university spokeswoman said. The union was preparing to strike the next day if negotiations failed.

“With these new agreements, we will continue to move forward together and serve our city and state as Chicago’s public research university,” said UIC administrators in a statement.

UIC United Faculty represents 1,200 full-time tenured and non-tenured employees at the Near West Side campus.

Around 93% of the union voted to authorize a strike in early April after nearly a year of unsuccessful contract negotiations with administration. The faculty’s last contract expired in August.

The two sides compromised on several issues since negotiations started but struggled to find common ground regarding annual merit raises.

The tentative agreement includes a 2 percent raise for each year of the contract and also features stronger reappointment protections for non-tenured faculty, according to a union spokeswoman.

“I am particularly excited about new policy protections for our non-tenure System faculty, who are integral to the teaching, research and service at UIC. This contract represents significant wins in an ongoing fight for the resources needed to fulfill UIC’s mission,” said union president Janet Smith in a statement.

The agreement is expected to be presented to union members at the end of the week and voted on the following Monday and Tuesday.

Administration officials are expected to review and ratify the contract “expeditiously,” but no timetable is set, according to a university spokeswoman.

After nearly 30 negotiation sessions, the union is relieved a faculty strike was not necessary.

“While we were all tenacious, this contract represents collaboration and the repositioning of administration priorities with our own. I am very hopeful for the future and I believe it will be ratified,” said union spokeswoman Charitianne Williams.

Earlier this month, 1,500 members of UIC graduate employees and teaching assistants returned to work after a two week strike that ended in a three-year agreement featuring wage increases, cheaper health care and other financial benefits.