BREAKING: EIU-UPI strike continues after union, admin fails to reach deal


Madelyn Kidd

University President David Glassman walks into the first bargaining meeting since EIU-UPI started picketing. This is the union’s second day of picketing for a fair contract.

Madelyn Kidd, Editor-in-Chief

EIU-UPI and Eastern’s administrative team did not reach a contract deal after administration did not respond to the union’s last contract proposal made at 11 a.m. and the teams agreed no more progress could be made around 5:30 p.m.

It is strike day two, and Eastern will continue to have faculty within Eastern’s chapter of University Professionals of Illinois on strike after failing to reach a contract agreement during the bargaining session at the Elks Lodge #623 beginning at 9 a.m. Friday. 

The private room was reserved until 2 a.m. Saturday in preparation of bargaining until a deal is met or one negotiating team walks out.

Around 5:30 p.m., the administrative and union negotiation teams agreed no more progress would be made.

EIU-UPI offered to have another bargaining session on Saturday, but the university declined, according to Billy Hung, EIU-UPI’s lead negotiator and a biology professor.

The next bargaining session is set for Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Mark Bennett, the lawyer Eastern Illinois University hired walks into the first bargaining meeting since EIU-UPI started picketing. This is the union’s second day of picketing for a fair contract (Madelyn Kidd)

University President David Glassman, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Jay Gatrell, Vice President of Business Affairs Matt Bierman, Administrative Fellow Bradley Tolppanen, Dean of the School of Business and Technology Austin Cheney and Eastern’s hired negotiation lawyer Mark Bennett arrived for the negotiation meeting Friday as part of the administrative negotiating team.

Bennett is the negotiating lawyer for Eastern, Chicago State University who are on strike day five and Governor State University who are on strike beginning Tuesday. 

All three chapter’s of UPI and the universities’ administration have struggled to reach a new contract agreement and will be striking into next week.

EIU-UPI will continue striking, but be on break from picketing over the weekend in respect of union members who celebrate Easter, at this time.

The EIU-UPI chapter picketers have a final get together before ending day two of striking on Friday morning. (Ashanti Thomas)

Picketing is to resume on Monday.

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.

The bargaining session was held at Elks Lodge since EIU-UPI was currently striking and could not cross the picket line.

The meeting began at 9 a.m. and set to continue until an agreement was reached or one of the negotiating teams walked out. Last Monday, Eastern’s administrative team were the ones who walked out around 4:30 p.m.

Picketers chant, “Fair contract, now!” in front of Old Main during the strike on Friday afternoon. (Ashanti Thomas)

They were met with over 200 faculty, staff, students, family and community members outside of the Lodge in support of EIU-UPI.

The over 200 picketers escorted EIU-UPI’s bargaining team to the Lodge and cheered them on before and after the team entered the building before the administrative team arrived.

After both negotiating teams entered the Lodge, the union continued picketing outside of the Lodge before returning to Old Main where they remained until 11 a.m.

The second strike day ended early with respect for those celebrating the Easter weekend and Good Friday.

The decision to strike was made Tuesday evening.

After the previous bargaining session ended with Eastern’s administration team walking out before 5 p.m., EIU-UPI held a membership meeting to update members on negotiations and how they want to move forward.

John Miller, president of the UPI fist bumps kids while hyping up the crowd during their second day of picketing for a fair contract Friday morning. (Madelyn Kidd)

The union delivered the intent to strike to Glassman’s office on March 20.

97 percent of voting union members, 85% of all union members, voted yes to give the EIU-UPI bargaining team the authority to call for a strike on March 9.

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

Prior, the union had spoken at multiple Board of Trustee meetings throughout the FY23 and held a “Teach Out” on Sept. 8. The Teach Out provided students information on labor laws and updates on the current negotiations.

The last faculty contract ended on Aug. 31 leaving faculty to work without a contract for over seven months.

EIU-UPI’s negotiation team began preparing and planning for the bargaining session in August 2021. Thus, they have been working on negotiating for a new contract for one and a half years.


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