EIU President calls union strike ‘premature,’ hopes to reach resolution

Madelyn Kidd, Editor-in-Chief

FILE PHOTO: University President David Glassman called the strike premature because he felt as if the negotiations teams were making progress.

University President David Glassman said the decision for Eastern’s chapter of University Professionals of Illinois, EIU-UPI, to strike on Thursday was “premature” since the administration and EIU-UPI’s negotiation teams made “significant progress” at Monday’s bargaining session.

EIU-UPI announced they would be striking starting Thursday until a “fair contract” is reached. 

EIU-UPI will be picketing from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., hold a rally at 11 a.m. and resume picketing from noon to 3 p.m.

Eastern does not comment on ongoing union negotiations; however, did release a statement on Wednesday saying Eastern is aware of the strike.

“The university remains committed to reaching a good-faith resolution that sensibly balances its employees’ needs with the opportunity, accessibility and quality education all EIU students and families have come to expect,” Josh Reinhart, Eastern’s public information coordinator, said. “EIU looks forward to resuming negotiations at a previously scheduled bargaining session Friday, April 7. As the university continues to work toward a mutual resolution, please know contingencies are in place for ensuring current students complete the spring 2023 semester and graduate on time.”

On Monday, the bargaining teams met and bargained for eight hours before the administrative team walked out. Monday’s meeting was scheduled to last until one team walked out.

EIU-UPI on Tuesday held a membership meeting to update members and explore options for the next step for the union.

In a survey, 95 percent of participants said they wanted to strike on Thursday.

The EIU-UPI bargaining team then chose to move forward with the strike.

Glassman said he felt the decision was made prematurely, but it is the union’s legal right to strike.

The bargaining teams will meet again on Friday, which Glassman said he hopes to have the situation resolved and to reach a fair contract for both sides.

Glassman said students should still go to classes, even if the instructor or professor says the class is canceled for the strike.

In an email sent to students Wednesday, Glassman told students to tell department chairs if an instructor is missing from class and continue attending classes and completing assignments.

“If you find an instructor is absent for a scheduled on-campus course, you are encouraged to reach out to your academic department chair or college dean’s office, to determine next steps,” the email said. “If you’re enrolled in an online course or an online element of a hybrid course, continue participating in your online activities and complete the coursework as scheduled in the course outline. And, if you’re involved in student teaching, internships, or clinicals, continue to attend and participate in all off-campus academic activities.  Finally, please read your email regularly and often for updates from chairs, faculty, and the university.”

A link to a new webpage was also provided for information on the bargaining sessions. 

Additional resources for students and faculty were provided including a series of answered questions currently being asked by students and faculty.

The questions from students answered include:

  • How are classes/labs/students impacted if a strike occurs? Classes will continue throughout the duration of any work stoppage. Eastern will make every effort to notify you by email and a sign on the classroom door if the class is canceled. Eastern will monitor all courses and follow up with students as soon as possible.
  • Should I attend class? Yes, you should attend class, continue your assigned readings, and complete all online or hybrid assignments.
  • What should I do if I go to class and the instructor is not there? Contact the department or college that houses the class or lab. Eastern plans on having staff visit classes without instructors to advise students on next steps.
  • What will happen if classes or labs are canceled? The issue of canceled courses and labs will be addressed at the program level. Students should address any questions to their academic deans or department chairs. The university is committed to making sure students receive the grades and credits earned for all enrolled classes.
  • How many classes are impacted by the strike? The decision to strike is up to each faculty member. Union members are not required to inform Eastern whether they will strike and the university is not permitted to inquire about their status. The number of classes, labs and students that may be affected is unclear and depends on the level of participation in the strike.
  • Should a strike occur, will students be able to sit for their final exams and will their grades be available? Eastern intends to make sure that students receive the grades and credits for all enrolled courses.
  • Will we hold commencement in case of a strike? Yes, commencement will continue as scheduled on May 6.
  • Are undergraduate and graduate student employees still expected to report to work during a strike? Yes. All student employees are expected to report to their campus jobs during a strike. Student workers should address any questions or concerns to their supervisor.

Glassman said more questions and answers will be added on the page as the administration is asked more.

A facts and questions page was also provided for faculty.

EIU-UPI represents roughly 450 employees on campus including professors, academic advisors, annually contracted faculty, the tenured and tenure-track faculty and academic support professionals.

EIU-UPI delivered a grievance to Glassman’s office for not bargaining in good faith in October.

A federal mediator was called in by the union in November after bargaining sessions had reached a “stone-wall.”

The union delivered an intent to strike on March 27 to Glassman’s office allowing them to strike as early as Thursday.

Eastern is not the only university with a teacher strike on the horizon. 

Chicago State University’s chapter of UPI began their union strike on Monday after bargaining for nearly a year. 

On day one of striking, Chicago State began picketing at 9:30 a.m. and held a press conference at noon.

For day two on Tuesday, they began picketing again at 9:30 a.m. and rallied at noon.

Chicago State is currently on day three of striking.

Governor State University UPI have filed their intent to strike if an agreement is not reached as well. They can strike as early as April 7.


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