SIU Strike Deadline Draws Near

An SIU strike is getting closer with no sign of an agreement being reached.
The SIU Faculty Association has been negotiating with SIU's Administrators for nearly a year for a new contract. Now there are less than two weeks before the February 3rd strike deadline that the SIU teachers previously set.  If no agreement by that time, they promise to walkout on their classrooms and onto the picket lines.
"We're pulling together to make this happen and to be prepared if we don't get the settlement we want," says Randy Hughes. The professors have opened up a central command post in downtown Carbondale to coordinate the final phase of their negotiating efforts.
"It's a place where we can get information, we can disseminate information, we can prepare people to begin the process of a strike. If we don't have a settlement by the third," Hughes said.
On the SIU campus students are going about their business of learning, for now. In the meantime SIU Administrators are working on their own plans of dealing with a potential strike. "We're putting most of our energy into the talks, because we think that's where our energy is best spent. But we are also making plans so that we serve our students first," says Sue Davis SIU Executive Director of Media & Communications.
"We feel a deep obligation to our students and we're going to do everything we can to make sure that their held harmless if a strike occurs," Davis said. Both sides say they haven't given up, they'll continue negotiating on the campus with Federal Mediators on hand to try and reach an agreement before the February 3rd deadline.
Carbondale Mayor Neil Dillard is trying to avert the strike. Mayor Dillard has offered the city's facilities to both sides for negotiating off campus if they would feel more comfortable.