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Concurrent Local 4100 strikes achieve gains for students, faculty, and staff

April’s famous “showers” came in the form of concurrent strikes this year for three chapters of the University Professionals of Illinois (UPI, Local 4100) and a fourth walkout was authorized but averted just hours before members took to the picket lines. Instead of bringing the proverbial “flowers,” the actions by these brave UPI members resulted in important gains for students and the dedicated professionals who teach and support them as they pursue their higher education goals. All the strikes – at Governors State University (GSU UPI), Eastern Illinois University (EIU UPI), and Chicago State University (CSU UPI) – shared similar causes, including administrations that refused to bargain seriously until members took to the picket lines. But the most troubling commonality was that none of the universities shared the unions’ priorities to invest in the needs of the special student populations each campus serves, whether Black, Brown, rural, commuter, or first-generation.



CHICAGO STATE UNIVERSITY | 10-day strike


After nearly a year of unproductive bargaining and mediation with an immovable and often disrespectful administration, the 160 faculty and staff members of CSU UPI were forced to the picket lines on April 3. CSU is located on Chicago’s South Side.


Members at the state’s only Predominantly Black Institution were fighting for what their students need to succeed, including fair pay to help retain and attract world class professionals at CSU, and manageable workloads to ensure faculty and staff can best serve students. After 10 tough days on the lines and with overwhelming support from students, the community, and labor allies, members won their fight for fairness. The new contract includes key gains: wage increases of about 14% over the four-year agreement, dedicated research time for faculty, and an important new family benefit - five weeks of paid parental leave for the birth, adoption, or fostering of a child.



EASTERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY | 6-day strike


About 450 faculty and staff in EIU UPI were forced to walk out on April 6 after the administration walked away from the table after nearly a year of bargaining and mediation. EIU is a rural-serving institution and regional economic engine in downstate Charleston, with Black and Brown students comprising 30% of the student body.


Throughout negotiations, the EIU administration proposed that members accept overwhelming workload increases that would have negatively impacted the time available to support students. At the same time, they asked faculty and staff to accept insulting wage increases, which would have effectively cut their pay. EIU UPI members stayed strong with the support of students and allies. After six days on the picket lines, the union prevailed. The new agreement includes a 15% salary increase over four years. The union also won paid parental leave for new parents, including adoptive parents, which was previously not offered to university employees.


GOVERNORS STATE UNIVERSITY | 5-day strike


In University Park, a far-south suburb of Chicago, the 280 faculty and staff who are members

of GSU UPI were forced to walk out on April 11 when GSU administration walked away from the table after nearly a year of bargaining and mediation.


Much like their CSU and EIU colleagues, GSU UPI members at this Minority Serving and emerging Hispanic Serving Institution faced an administration that repeatedly proposed workload increases that would have negatively impacted the level of service that faculty, advisors, and other professionals could provide to students. At the same time, the university was offering insignificant pay increases that did not reflect our members’ high-quality work or make up for their previous wage sacrifices. After tremendous support from students during five days on strike, GSU UPI members won a new four-year agreement that provides them with greater availability to support students and a fair wage increase. The union also secured 25 days of parental leave.



NORTHEASTERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY | Strike authorized


The pattern of disinvestment in students, faculty, and staff was also evident at NEIU on Chicago’s North Side.


More than 95% of the voting faculty and staff members of NEIU UPI voted to authorize a strike in April after nearly a year of unproductive bargaining and unacceptable proposals from the university. The key issues at stake at the state’s first federally-designated Hispanic Serving Institution mirrored those at CSU, EIU and GSU – workload and fair pay. Thanks to the union’s commitment to reaching an agreement – combined with new, more collaborative appointees to NEIU’s Board of Trustees made by Governor Pritzker – the union was able to secure necessary contract improvements just hours before a scheduled walkout was set to begin, including 3% pay increases each year of the agreement, better balanced workloads, and the return of awarded merit pay.


”I’m so proud of our members for standing up for what students need and professionals deserve. By staying strong together, they showed the true power of solidarity." John Miller | UPI President
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