Students picket with EIU-UPI in strike


Madelyn Kidd

Students, community members and members of other campus unions picketed alongside members of the EIU-UPI during their strike at Old Main.

Cam'ron Hardy, News Editor

Editor’s Note: This article has been corrected.

Students came out to strike with Eastern’s chapter of University Professionals of Illinois, EIU-UPI, Thursday. One student said, “Glassman is the reason that I’m not learning today.”

EIU-UPI delivered over 1,000 postcards to the Board of Trustees calling for new contracts Feb. 27 and delivered their intent to strike March 27 to University President David Glassman.

EIU-UPI and administration had a negotiation meeting Monday, but administration walked out of the meeting around 4:30 p.m.

EIU-UPI requested another bargaining meeting for Tuesday, but administration declined. The union also told administration they were willing to meet on Wednesday as well.

EIU-UPI held their own meeting Tuesday to discuss what steps they should take.

They announced they were striking Tuesday and the earliest they could strike was Thursday.

Union members gathered at Morton Park around 7:30 a.m. and walked to Old Main and started to picket.

Picketers walk onto campus after a rally at Morton Park Thursday afternoon. (Rob Le Cates)

Union members have been bargaining for a new faculty contract since March 21, 2022. They have been working without a contract since Aug. 31.

Students joined professors as they walked around in a circle reciting chants such as “What do we want? Fair contracts. When do we want it? Now,” and “When we fight, we win.”

Students were also part of a sit in. On Yik Yak, students started a post asking other students to join professors outside of Old Main and to not attend classes with substitutes.

Sadie Willaredt, a graduate student of computer technology, took part in the sit in to support their teachers.

“A lot of them have been people I’ve known for several years now,” Willaredt said. “As someone who went here for undergrad and is now doing grad school and as a grad assistant, I work closely with a lot of professors so it felt right to come out here and support them today.”

Willaredt said how student may feel with not being able to go to class with their original professor.

Willaredt said the university is “negating” all the hard work that teachers have done.

“It’s just honestly kind of disheartening to see our professors not being treated with the respect they deserve,” Willaredt said. “As a student, you know, they are someone I look up to and have looked up to for a very long time.”

Willaredt said it was nice to see professors protesting and standing for their beliefs, especially since they want to be a professor one day.

Thomas MacMullen, an instructor in the school of technology, leads chants during picketing Thursday. (Madelyn Kidd)

Jemma Allen, a senior music and education major, attended the strike as well.

Allen said it was pretty important to them to support the professors because without them, no one would be able to do common tasks.

“They’ve have been on the bargaining table for over a year, and it’s time for Glassman to step up,” Allen said. “…I’m not able to be in my classes today because the classes aren’t being held, and I support the teachers in that, and Glassman is the reason that I’m not learning today.

Allen said they hope that the university provides teachers with a livable wage.

“The fact that some of them fall under the poverty line is ridiculous when, [Glassman] is making six figures a year for teaching one class,” Allen said. “So, the best thing [he] could do at this point is step up and pay them so that I can get back to learning and be a future teacher.”

Picketers walk past Mi Casa Tu Casa from the rally at Morton Park toward Old Main Thursday afternoon. (Rob Le Cates)

Breanna Heisner, a junior music education major, stood with EIU-UPI members in support. Heisner said that with all of the work that teachers do and all the support that they give students, that students should give it back to them. Heisner said they are “disappointed” that negotiations have been going on for so long.

“I’m really disappointed in the fact that this has been going on for so long and he refuses to sit at the table stay at the table to put real thought and consideration into actual people’s lives,” Heisner said.

Heisner said they are worried at the moment because they want to go into the teaching field and that they will have to do the same thing.

“I’m [striking] in my education, not in my actual teaching, and if it doesn’t continue to get better or if it goes backwards, I will be doing this again, and that is a little scary that I’m already starting now,” Heisner said.

Jenna Decker, a junior education major, was out supporting EIU-UPI.

As a future educator, Decker said experiencing striking at an early stage in their career and being seeing the effects gives them the perspective of how much of an issue it is.

Decker said they were out supporting the teachers because of how much they do for students.

“I’m here today because I want to support my faculty and the teachers who are there for me every single day,” Decker said. “They do so much for me, and I feel like the least I can do is to show up and support a cause that is very important to both them and me.”

University’s chapter of University Professionals of Illinois started picketing for a fair contract Thursday morning. (Madelyn Kidd)

Despite supporting the teachers, Decker said they would have preferred to be in class.

“I would love to be in class today,” Decker said. “I would love to be learning. I’m at a very important phase of my career path.”

Decker said they are about to go into teaching and the classes they are taking right now and very important to be successful in.

“The classes that I’m in right now are very influential to my future,” Decker said. “…I feel like right now, more than ever, is one of the most important semesters that’s preparing me to go out to be a teacher, so not being able to be in class, not being able to learn the things that I feel I need to know, it’s a little upsetting… They just deserve the world, and EIU is not doing that for them right now.”

Samantha Dearth, a sophomore tv and video production major, said they came to support their advertising professor.

Dearth said being closer with a professor makes it easier to learn and get the best out of their education.

Dearth also said they were worried about the rest of their time and that they will not be able to complete their finals and how it will affect them in the future.

Students hold hand-made signs and join in on the chants being yelled in support of their professors that are striking at the rally at Morton Park on Thursday afternoon.

Kristin Bailey, a junior communications major, went to the strike with Dearth to support the teachers.

Bailey said their classes were canceled and it felt right to be out supporting the teachers.

Bailey said they hope administration understands that students are with the faculty.

“I hope [administration] learns that the students are wholly with the faculty on this because honestly, the professors are the people who mainly support us here,” Bailey said.

Allison Smith, a sophomore communication disorders and science, was also at the strike and are deserving of a raise.

“They deserve what they’re asking for,” Smith said. “I think it’s unfair the way that they’ve been treated and the way the universities trying to turn the students against them, as well as them against each other and them against the union, and we’re fighting for that right.”

Drea Dills, a sophomore human services major, went to the event as well.

“Classes are canceled, so if they’re not in not there, then why should I be there?” Dills said of professors. “I don’t pay for some random GA to teach me, I pay to learn from the best and I pay to get advised by the best.”

Theo Edwards, a junior psychology major attends the rally to show support for professors who are on strike for a fair contract at Morton Park Thursday afternoon.

Dills said they have been talking with other students about how they feel about the strike.

Dills said multiple students have showing support for each other and their professors by going to events to get people together, such as dinners.

Administration and union members will strike tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. and starting at Morton Park.

Union members will continue picketing tomorrow at Elks Lodge #623, located at 720 6th Lodge.

There will be an off campus another negotiating meeting Friday at Elks Lodge.


Cam’ron Hardy can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].