Northeastern Illinois University Faculty and Staff Overwhelmingly Vote to Strike
Fourth in an ongoing pattern of divestment in Black and Brown universities
Chicago, IL – NEIU faculty and staff are the latest statewide university to inch closer to walking the picket lines. Faculty and staff at Governors State University (GSU) went on strike on April 11 after the administration walked away from the table last week. Their colleagues at Eastern Illinois University (EIU) were forced to walk out on April 6, and Chicago State University (CSU) faculty and staff have been on strike since April 3.
University Professionals of Illinois President John Miller said, “More than at other institutions, our members who serve predominantly Black and Brown or rural student populations keep hitting roadblocks in bargaining. We’re advocating for real investments at NEIU and across the state to ensure that our outstanding faculty and staff can provide the great education and supports that students in every community need and deserve."
Over the last two days, NEIU faculty and staff who are members of NEIU University Professionals of Illinois (NEIU UPI, IFT Local 4100) overwhelmingly voted to strike, with 95% of voting members asserting their willingness to do so if an agreement can’t be reached at the table.
Remaining issues include ensuring that all student-facing work - in and out of the classroom - is recognized, resisting workload increases that would reduce available time to support students, proposals to encourage more inclusive pedagogy and acknowledge work supporting our first-generation students, parental leave, and compensation. NEIU faculty have lost ground to inflation, in effect cutting their pay.
In 1997, NEIU became the first university in Illinois to receive federal designation as a Hispanic-serving institution. Nearly 40% of students are Latinx/e, according to the most recent federal data. Four in 10 are over the age of 25.
NEIU UPI Chapter President Nancy Matthews, a professor of justice studies and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies for over 25 years, said,
“This is unacceptable. UPI members are on the front lines serving our students, supporting them to achieve their dreams! We serve first generation, underrepresented, and low-income students, and investing in us is investing in our students’ futures. This must be a top priority for the administration. Our faculty, librarians, and advisors deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and that means ensuring their working conditions and pay are decent and fair. The university should care about us as much as they care about their bond rating. We see structural racism at work when the Illinois public universities that serve our communities of color are the ones with the lowest salaries and the worst offers.”
Prioritizing the university’s resources toward student-facing faculty and staff is a direct investment in students and the support they need to accomplish their goals at NEIU. Retaining the university’s high-quality educators and support professionals and recruiting more faculty and staff to join the NEIU community is a critical component of building a stronger future for the university.
Matthews added, “We have been at the bargaining table with the university administration since July 2022 with no movement, but remain hopeful that a strike can still be avoided.”
The union filed their Intent to Strike paperwork with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board this afternoon. Negotiations are scheduled for today, April 13.