A year after their union was formed, the faculty at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville have an initial agreement — but the contract negotiations aren’t done.
SIUE administration and faculty have announced an agreement that covers salary increases for last year and the current fiscal year, the same 2 percent increase approved for all other SIUE employees a few months ago in order to catch them up after salary freezes caused by the state budget stalemate. But faculty members could not receive that increase until they had a contract in place, according to the university.
So they negotiated what union president Kim Archer called a “bare minimum” contract that includes the salary increase, grievance procedures, counter offers and no-strike rules. “This is the bare minimum the law requires in order to be a contract,” Archer said. “We agreed to that so we can get the raise.”
But the rest of the contract remains to be negotiated, including procedures for tenure promotion, workload policies and aspects of decision-making where the faculty would have a say in university operations, Archer said.
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The first contract negotiation with a new union usually takes longer, officials have said, because they must negotiate everything. Archer said the first negotiation for a faculty union at the University of Illinois took 22 months to negotiate, but that was a long time to wait for the faculty members who have not had a raise for more than four years.
Negotiations have been more contentious than expected, Archer said. “We had a difficult go of it getting from March to here, so I hope both sides have come to understand each other,” she said. At one point, the association held demonstrations, including presenting Chancellor Randy Pembrook with a framed copy of an email he had sent praising the faculty for their contributions during the budget crisis, according to the Alestle.
“I want to thank members of the negotiating teams for both the administration and the faculty, because this is an important step in the collective bargaining process,” Pembrook said in the contract announcement. “We look forward to the faculty continuing their high-quality instruction that has lifted SIUE’s national academic reputation and prepared students for career success in a global economy.”
The SIUE Faculty Association was officially recognized in December 2016, including approximately 400 tenured and tenure-track faculty as organized through the Illinois Education Association. The professors were among the last SIUE employees to organize, following the non-tenure-track faculty members and staff that belong to at least a dozen other unions on campus. At least three of those unions are IEA, which means that IEA now represents nearly 900 employees at SIUE.