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UIC Faculty Union Strengthened by Historic Two-Day Strike for Fair Contract


February 20, 2014

UIC Faculty Union Strengthened by Historic Two-Day Strike for Fair Contract
More than a thousand faculty, students, and supporters picket at first strike by faculty at University of Illinois

CHICAGO – More than a thousand union members, students, supporters, and other union workers marched in support of the University of Illinois at Chicago United Faculty (UICUF) during a successful two-day strike on Tuesday, February 18 and Wednesday, February 19 this week.  The union has been negotiations with the UIC administration in its fight to uphold the quality of education at the world-class research institution for a year-and-a-half, but with little progress on key issues.

“The heart of UIC is its faculty and its students, but the Illinois board of trustees short change them both”, Joe Persky, UICUF president said. “They take more of our students’ tuition money, and even with hundreds of millions in profits each year and more than a billion dollars in reserves, they refuse to pay professors what they're worth. Many of the faculty who teach our first-year students only make $30,000 a year! The administration’s priorities don’t match our mission, and after trying to negotiate a fair contract for eighteen months, they left us no choice but to strike, which only strengthened our unity and resolve. It’s time for the University to get as serious as we are, and settle this contract now."

More than 1,500 people participated on the ground in the two-day labor action which garnered the attention of media across the country. Support also came in from the National Nurses United, Rutgers  Council of AAUP, Illinois Federation of Teachers, and American Federation of Teachers.

"One of the most heartening aspects of our two day strike was the student support," says John Casey, a lecturer in English and member of the UICUF Representative Assembly.  "I received dozens of emails from students,  many of whom I haven't seen in years, offering their encouragement and telling me how much they enjoyed my class.  We're doing a good job now as non-tenure track faculty.  Imagine how much better we could serve our students with a fair contract.”

Casey has a PhD and teaches a writing course required of all incoming freshmen.

Union members and supporters as they marched throughout campus on Tuesday and Wednesday can be found here. On Tuesday evening, the  “Overpass Light Brigade” displayed LED messages of solidarity over the Racine/I-290 overpass for evening commuters on the Eisenhower expressway. Afterwards, there was a demonstration in front of the UIC Pavilion before the annual Deans Basketball Shootout began.

Thousands of people also posted messages of support on social media, using the hashtag #UICStrike.

Contract negotiations with the University continue tomorrow (Friday, February 21).

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About UIC UF: Local 6456 (IFT/AFT) is legally recognized to represent all full-time tenured and non-tenured faculty at UIC. It is committed to realizing the mission of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) as a public research university in a democratic society; making sure that every member of the faculty shares in the traditions of shared governance; making the promise of shared governance a reality through the power of collective bargaining; and keeping the principles of academic freedom, free speech and free inquiry central both to our union and our university.




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