Editors note: This is a word-for-word copy of the press release from the SIU Faculty Association and is not intended to be an unbiased report on the strike situation. Stay with KFVS12.com and Heartland News for the very latest.
SIUCFA News Release
Southern Illinois University Carbondale Faculty Association
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: James Kelly
SIUC FACULTY AUTHORIZE LEADERSHIP TO CALL A STRIKE
88 Percent vote yes in campus-wide balloting
CARBONDALE, IL - November 20 -- Today the membership of the Southern Illinois University Carbondale Faculty Association overwhelmingly approved a resolution authorizing the leadership to call a strike on or before February 3, 2003. 88 percent of the 346 association members who cast ballots in the three-day polling period voted in support of the strike authorization.
"Today's vote is an unmistakable indication of the Faculty's resolve to achieve a contract that is fair, equitable, and that advances the interest of the university," according to Dr. Morteza Daneshdoost, FA president. "306 of the 346 members who voted this week said they will do what is necessary, even if it means a strike that would close the university.
February 3 is the Monday of the fourth week of classes next semester. Negotiations began in mid-February of this year and have resulted in just three tentative agreements. The Faculty has been working under the terms of a contract that expired June 30, 2002.
"We do not want to strike. We want a contract that respects our rights and provides us with a proper role in campus governance," Daneshdoost said. "I urge the Board of Trustees to stop insulting our intelligence and stop playing with the future of our university. I ask the Board, President Walker, and Chancellor Wendler to transform today's vote into an academic exercise rather than a collective labor action. I urge the Board, President Walker, and Chancellor Wendler to stop playing politics with these negotiations. I kindly request you all to stop this strike by returning to the bargaining table with realistic proposals and a spirit of compromise."
"The administration will be left largely unchanged by the outcome of successful negotiations. But the effect of a strike will directly impact the Faculty, students, staff, community, and region. Let's avoid the unthinkable," he said.
Seventy five issues, including salary, faculty/student ratios, faculty workload, tenure and promotion guidelines, and faculty layoff procedures have yet to be settled after 31 negotiating sessions between the FA and administration teams.
"The strike vote today sends a clear message to the administration. The Faculty of SIUC is united and strong. We are committed to this struggle and we will not be diverted from our goal," Daneshdoost said.
"Our negotiation team will return to the bargaining table in two days," Daneshdoost said. "We hope the administration will bargain seriously because the stakes are now undeniably great and the time remaining is unavoidably short."
SIU is the state's second largest university and Carbondale is its main campus. There are approximately 21,000 students and 688 tenured and tenure-track faculty. Sixty percent are dues-paying members of the Faculty Association, a member of the Illinois Educational Association. The FA has been the collective bargaining representative of the faculty since 1996. They are negotiating their third contract with the Board of Trustees. SIUC is a comprehensive university offering doctoral degrees in dozens of disciplines and generating millions of dollars in external grants for research.
This is the first time a strike vote has been taken at a research university in Illinois, although two other universities are represented by faculty unions: Eastern Illinois University in Charleston and Western Illinois University in Macomb.