Play nice, now sign here please

It has been a long road for members of Eastern’s chapter of the University Professionals of Illinois to get a tentative contract agreement with the administration. With both parties finally coming to a tentative agreement on Dec. 13, it seems like the union is finally catching a break.

Now that both parties are finally seeing eye-to-eye, the Editorial Board hopes that both groups are able to finally agree on a contract and move on. It benefits no one to continue the pendulum between the union and the administration.

The chief negotiator from both groups expressed how physically draining this process has been.

Negotiations began all the way in June of 2010 and with tough sticking points like furlough language and safety concerns, it has not been a pretty process.

However, the work is not done yet.

In Monday’s issue, Jon Blitz, UPI/EIU chief negotiator, told The Daily Eastern News that although he is relieved about the tentative agreement, there is much to be done to finalize it.

At the general membership meeting on Wednesday, UPI members will be addressed by members of the negotiation team on what this tentative agreement actually entails. This is where some disagreements may be voiced.

Although the chief negotiators from both groups were satisfied by the agreement, there is a rare chance that everyone in the more than 700-member group will share the same sentiment.

Throughout the negotiations, concerns affecting different UPI members were brought up for discussion.

The university’s faculty is divided into two groups: Unit A, which includes tenured and tenure-track faculty, and Unit B, which includes annually contracted faculty and academic support professionals. So, contract negotiations actually involve bargaining for both the Unit A and Unit B contracts, which are separate documents.

Unit A members raised concerns over application of the tuition recovery model and inclusion of credit units in their contract. Unit B members voiced their opinion over unfair pay scales for receiving upper-division degrees.

Whether all these terms were addressed by the tentative agreement is still unknown.

A majority vote from UPI members is needed in order to ratify the agreement. However, there are still several facets of the agreement that need to be put into contractual language, Blitz said. But as the UPI members have pointed out in several of their negotiation sticking points, sometimes the devil is in the details.

Once the language has been finalized, the agreement will be sent to the Board of Trustees for final approval.

The Editorial Board hopes that both parties will be not only finalize the agreement in a timely fashion, but also have an agreement that will have been worth the wait.