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Union: Western Illinois University needs emergency funding, new direction

WESTMONT - In response to today’s news that Western Illinois University (WIU) will be laying off critical employees, union leaders called upon the Governor and state legislature to take immediate action.
WIU faculty and staff are members of the University Professionals of Illinois (UPI), Local 4100 of the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT).

IFT President Dan Montgomery said: 

“After years of intentionally starving our public colleges and universities of critical resources in order to push a rejected political agenda, we are finally seeing the fruits of Bruce Rauner’s labor coming to bear. The cuts announced today will be devastating to Western Illinois University. We know that Governor Pritzker and the state legislature recognize the importance of undoing Rauner’s damage and appreciate the recent budget proposal to increase investment in higher education. Unfortunately, this funding won’t come soon enough. We strongly support our members who serve students at WIU and join them in calling for an emergency appropriation to help their community through this difficult chapter. It is critical that Western Illinois University remain strong not only for the faculty and students who call it home, but for the broader region that relies on this vital economic engine.”

UPI President John Miller said:

“For the third time, Western Illinois University has announced layoffs of faculty, staff and employees. These cuts will have a negative impact on WIU and devastate families and the broader communities of western Illinois. We join with more than 4,000 students, supporters, and alumnae who have signed the “Buy Into Western Illinois University” petition to call on Governor Pritzker to quickly appoint a new WIU Board of Trustees and support an emergency appropriation for the University. Emergency funding would mitigate these cuts and begin to undo the harm caused by the chronic underfunding of our public universities over the last two decades. Further, Western Illinois University needs to develop a new vision and direction fulfill its mission as a regional, comprehensive institution where students earn a quality degree and secure a bright future. Our students, communities, and employees deserve nothing less.”

Bill Thompson, President of the Western Illinois University chapter of UPI, said:

“Unfortunately, 20 years of state disinvestment and 12 years of unimpeded enrollment decline have brought Western Illinois to the point we are today. In order to avoid a potential catastrophe in the fall when the university may be unable to meet payroll, WIU caused a catastrophe now, the largest layoff in its history. This announcement is devastating on all fronts. We encourage the university to rediscover its mission and head toward a future that does not include layoffs and all the havoc they will bring to our community. Our union will protect our members' rights during these layoffs and, as always, help lead the way into the future.”

The Illinois Federation of Teachers represents 103,000 teachers and paraprofessionals in PreK-12 school districts throughout Illinois, faculty and staff at Illinois’ community colleges and universities, public employees under every statewide elected constitutional officer, and retirees. 

The University Professionals of Illinois (UPI), IFT Local 4100, represents 3,000 members at the bargaining tables of seven of Illinois’ twelve public universities. These institutions include Western Illinois University, Chicago State University, Eastern Illinois University, Governors State University, Northeastern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, and University of Illinois-Springfield.

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