Red flags and marching to honor those laid off

Cassie Buchman, Associate News Editor

Red flags will be placed on the lawn of Old Main and the Coles County Courthouse to honor the 261 Eastern employees who have or who will lose their jobs during a march 4 p.m. Wednesday starting on the Library Quad.

This number includes both the Annually Contracted Faculty members and the civil service workers who lost their jobs at the beginning of the academic year and the most recent layoffs.

The march will start at 4 p.m., when people participating will put the red flags on the lawn of Old Main. At 4:30 p.m. there will be speeches by community members followed by a march to the courthouse, where more red flags will be put by the Courthouse.

According to the press release, “Many more EIU employees have been impacted by increased workloads, feared for their own jobs, and experienced deterioration in the quality of their work environment.”

Eastern’s chapter of the University Professionals of Illinois, Council 31 Local 981, and EIU Plumbers and Pipefitters are working together to coordinate the march.

Billy Hung, media coordinator for the University Professionals of Illinois, said they wanted to get the state’s and community’s attention with the red flags, because they were eye catching and they wanted to create awareness of the people impacted by the budget crisis.

“These are people’s lives,” Hung said. “These are real people.”

Hung said he was happy to get such a positive response from other unions.

“They were like, ‘Oh you need us? When?’” Hung said.

Hung said they also received good feedback from community members.

Oftentimes, when people see the news they see people talking about the budget and money issues, but they forget there are human faces behind those numbers, Hung said.

“A lot of times people feel disempowered,” Hung said. “We need to let them know they are not forgotten.”

Hung said he knows people who think they have been sidelined, because everyone is trying to fight for funding.

“When times are rough, and people are upset, people are stressed, it’s good to remind them nobody is in this alone,” Hung said.

He said it is important to think of the people most affected by the budget crisis.

Hung said all unions have had members who are affected somehow.

“We want to show people that people we know are suffering, are experiencing hardship,” Hung said.

Hung said they were asked to talk about the impact the budget impasse has had on them and people they know.

“Some are impacted worse than others,” Hung said. “We need to recognize that. For (the 177 civil service workers who were laid off) it’s really tough to adjust in two months.”

Hung said different groups of employees at Eastern got to know each other from working together.

“These are the people we work with,” Hung said. “We know when their birthdays are, when their daughter’s getting married, their grandchildren.”

This march is open to everyone, including students and community members.


Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]