EIU-UPI rallies, files intent to strike


Rob Le Cates

University President David Glassman accepts the intent to strike notice from EIU-UPI President Jennifer Stringfellow Monday afternoon in the President’s Office at Old Main on Eastern’s campus in Charleston, Illinois. Once he accepted, Glassman said to Stringfellow he hopes the negotiations teams can come to a possible agreement, avoid a strike, and continue to work together.

Madelyn Kidd, Editor-in-Chief

University President David Glassman hopes Eastern and Eastern’s chapter of University Professionals of Illinois reach an agreement in the year-long contract negotiations as they continue to “work together.”

Glassman spoke to EIU-UPI’s president Jennifer Stringfellow when she delivered the union’s notice of EIU-UPI’s intent to strike beginning on April 6 if an agreement in the bargaining sessions is not reached soon.

The intent to strike was delivered to Glassman’s office on Monday after EIU-UPI and Eastern administration have been bargaining for the new contract since March 21, 2022.

Glassman said it is in the university and union’s interest to not have to strike.

“I’m very hopeful that we can come to a possible agreement and avoid any type of strike,” Glassman said. “And that certainly is our interest and I know it is your interest as well. And so we continue to work together to do our very best.”

Governor State University and Chicago State University’s UPI chapters have also filed their intent to strike and can begin as early as April 7 and April 3 respectively.

Approximately 50 union members came to Old Main in support and to show comradery as Stringfellow delivered the notice.

Prior to and after delivering the intent to strike notice to Glassman, union members said a variety of chants which echoed throughout Old Main’s hallway.

Some chants including: “What do we want?/A fair contract When do we want it?/Now,” “We fight, we win,” “Union strong” and “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Austerity has got to go.”

John Miller, the organization president of University Professionals of Illinois, leads a speech about how EIU’s faculty deserves a fair contract on Monday afternoon in Old Main. (Ashanti Thomas)

Stringfellow said the turnout was amazing to see, and Glassman being in his office during the delivery of the notice was great to see.

“I could not be happier to see all these people,” Stringfellow said. “They came early, and they stayed. For all of the chanting people were not shy about walking in this time, which was great. And to have that show, and [Glassman] actually be here. I’m over the moon with this truly. It is what makes me say that this too, will have an effect.”

Previously, the union had delivered a grievance for not bargaining in good faith and a box of approximately 1,000 postcards addressed to the Board of Trustees to Glassman’s office. For both deliveries, Glassman was out of the office.

UPI’s President John Miller said he is pleased to be here, but not happy.

“I’m quite pleased to be here, but I’m not happy to be here,” Miller said. “We should admire these members who took the time out of their day and should not have to be outside the president’s office to demand a fair contract. This should have been over with multiple months ago, but the institution continues to refuse to come to the table with a reasonable and fair contract. And that these employees, our faculty, our staff, deserve an increase that represents the work that they’re doing. We have sacrificed for the last decade for this institution.”

Around 50 or more union members and supporters stood behind their president as she was interviewed by media outlets before delivering the strike intention letter Monday afternoon. (Tyriq Johnson)

Stringfellow said Eastern’s administration has not been fair in their offers and proposals in contract negotiation meetings.

“When we’re clear all we’re asking for you, for the administration has to come to the table with a fair and what I would say fair and equitable proposals,” Stringfellow said. “They know where we’re at. They know. They know that we will be striking on April 6. If they don’t think after today. If they don’t think we’re capable of that. Just like their math about how much money the university actually has or doesn’t. Their math about how much support we have just from our members. But we’re also pretty confident that we have students too. They’re making the wrong calculation right there. It’s just not compact- the truth catches on here.”

Stringfellow said EIU-UPI faculty have given a lot to Eastern and now want a fair contract in return.

“[Faculty] helped keep recruitment up,” Stringfellow said. “We helped keep the numbers of students on this campus. When we deferred our salaries. That was something that also had to come to the membership. Nobody could make that decision on their own. And so we voted yes. And the question should be why did we vote so that it’s not because we’re all so wealthy? That we can afford to go without money? Is that we believe in Eastern. We’re here because we chose to come to Eastern and work here because of the relationship that we can have with students.”

Billy Hung, an associate biological sciences professor leads a chant with his fellow UPI members after the strike intention letter was given to President Glassman on Monday afternoon (Ashanti Thomas)

Stringfellow said situations like this with the administration worries her for the future of Eastern.

“I love Eastern, and I will love Eastern for a very long time,” Stringfellow said. “My daughter graduated from here and it is why I do what I do. That is why I left [my previous] university to come and teach at Eastern… I will be damned that this current administration will ruin Eastern, and that’s really what I’m afraid of more than anything. That this kind of stuff will break Eastern, break the reputation, what we recruit on will no longer be true. And that will break my heart.”

Miller said faculty in higher education across the state have been experiencing fights for a fair contract along with Eastern.

“All higher [education] is involved in these battles,” Miller said. “The employees on all of these campuses have been fighting for years to support public higher education. We’ve sacrificed ourselves in some cases, we’ve taken pay cuts, we’ve given money back to the institutions in order to keep the institutions afloat during the budget crisis. And we can’t keep doing that. And so what we’re trying to say as the public higher ed is enough is enough.”


Madelyn Kidd can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].