Strike Day 2: EIU-UPI picketing a ‘family affair’


Madelyn Kidd

Associate Professor in the biological sciences department Eloy Martinez is joined by his nine-year-old daughter Amelia Martinez who wanted to help her dad during the second day of picketing for a fair contract Friday morning. Amelia is homeschooled and her dad said his daughter wanted to come out and learn, and added it would be a good lesson in social justice.

Cam'ron Hardy, News Editor

Eastern’s chapter of University Professionals of Illinois, EIU-UPI, continued their strike Friday for their second day with over 200 picketers, including students and families.

The union have been bargaining for a new contract since March 21, 2022 and have been working without a contract since Aug. 31.

The union represents roughly 450 employees on campus.

Union members delivered over 1,000 postcards addressed to the Board of Trustees in Old Main on Feb. 27. Students, faculty and members of the Charleston community signed cards to inform administration about the lack of fair contract offers.

On March 10, 97 percent of voting union members authorized the ability to strike.

Union members announced their rally to strike March 24. They delivered their intent to strike to University President David Glassman’s office on March 27.

On Tuesday, administration and union members held a negotiation meeting to reach an agreement, but administration walked out of the meeting at around 5 p.m. ending negotiations in a session with no end time.

Thursday was the first day of the strike and lasted from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Faculty, staff, community members and students picketed in front of Old Main.

Members of the Charleston and Eastern community continued to strike Friday.

The strike began at 7:30 a.m. at Morton Park and union members walked to Old Main and began to picket at 8 a.m.

At 8:30 a.m., union members split into two groups. One of the groups continued picketing at Old Main, while the second groups escorted the bargaining team to Elks Lodge #623, located at 720 6th St.

Picketers were able to be heard at Elks Lodge from Old Main.

People honk their cars in support while passing by the strike in front of Old Main Friday morning. (Ashanti Thomas)

People passing by the strike honked their horn in support of the faculty, including the panther shuttle bus.

At 9 a.m., administration and union members held another negotiating meeting at Elks Lodge.

The strike concluded roughly at 11 a.m. due to Good Friday and respecting those who celebrate.

Comparative to the first day, there were more students and community members picketing alongside union members.

At one point there were over 200 people in the picket line.

Domino’s Pizza donated 15 large pizzas for the union members for lunch.

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFSCME, brought Dunkin’ donuts for union members as well.

Spencer Spear, husband of union member an instructor of English Shelly Spear, participated in the strike in support of his spouse with their two kids.

Spencer is an alum of and a current graduate student of Eastern.

Spencer said he is a proud student, but the situation is a “disgrace.”

“It’s just a disgrace that it’s been over a year with no contract for the folks who deserve it and have given up and scarified for so long without a raise,” Spencer said.

Shelly Spear, an English instructor, encourages cars driving by to honk to show that they support them on their strike for a fair contract on
Friday morning. (Ashanti Thomas)

Spencer and Shelly Spear brought their two children out to support the strike as well.

Mary Atteberry, an instructor in kinesiology sport and recreations, attended the strike as well.

Atteberry held a sign comparing their salary to Glassman’s salary, which referenced an article posted by The Daily Eastern News.

Atteberry said seeing the difference between their salary and Glassman’s salary when he retires was “frustrating” due to how much work they do.

Glassman is set to retire June 30 and become a tenured professor to teach one class in the department of anthropology

“[It’s] very frustrating,” Atteberry said. “I commute from Champaign, and I know there are a lot of instructors that do that, and the gas prices have up [exponentially] more than our income.

Atteberry said she was a little embarrassed after having their salary posted, but later concluded that the university should be embarrassed that they pay her that amount.

Atteberry said she was excited about the students that came to the strike.

Picketers stand on top of the flower bed in front of Eastern’s gate on their second day of picketing for a fair contract Friday morning. (Madelyn Kidd)

Student Senator Jasmine Yusef joined the picket line today and Student Senator Blanca Vilella joined Thursday for the first day of the strike.

Executive vice president of the student body and student trustee on the Board of Trustees, Connor Mellott, was also at the strike on Thursday.

Family members of the faculty striking came out to support.

Angela Jacobs, a professor in the school of communication and journalism, and daughter Kate Jacobs, a junior elementary education major, picketed at the strike together.

Angela said she came to the event for one thing- getting a fair contract.

“We’ve been working; we’ve been generous to the university [during times of challenges], and I think now that the university is in a good place financially,” Angela said. “I think that faculty deserve a fair pay, fair wages, especially in light of this heavy inflation.”

Angela said she is concerned about her students since she is not in the classroom to teach.

Picketers stand on top of the flower bed in front of Eastern Illinois University’s gate on their second day of picketing for a fair contract Friday morning (Madelyn Kidd)

“I’m concerned that my students, getting towards the end of the semester are not going to get the education that they deserve and are not going to be able to get what they need to finish the semester, [for] those that are graduating,” Angela said.

Angela said it felt “fantastic” for her daughter to be with her.

Kate said she came to the event to support her mother and the work that she and other union members do behind the scenes.

Being in the teaching work field, Kate said it was hard to see teachers strike and “fight for what they deserve.”

“It’s hard not [being in] the classroom and seeing them, but we’re gonna keep fighting until they get what they deserve for sure,” Kate said.

Kate said she thinks having students supporting the teachers will be impactful and hopes it is a step in the right direction.

She said it was “awesome” being out with her mother too.

Amelia Martinez, 9, walks belong side her her dad Eloy Martinez, an associate professor in the biological sciences department, while he strikes for a fair contract. Amelia said, “Strikes are really apart of my heritage and I felt like I really wanted to help and support my dad.” She explained that even though she was tired, “it was worth it.” (Ashanti Thomas)

Eloy Martinez, an associate professor in the biological sciences department, picketed outside of Old Main with his daughter, Amelia, 9.

Martinez said she wanted to come to the strike with her dad.

“I want to clarify that I didn’t bring her, she actually wanted to come with me,” Martinez said. “…We are born and raised in Puerto Rico. When we are called on for a strike its a family affair.”

Martinez said having family with him felt “necessary” while making demands to administration.

“We do it as a family, and we do it as again, the union; it’s essentially a family as well,” Martinez said. “So, it’s an extended family. We feel that that’s an important aspect of our demonstration.”

Martinez said he felt it was “absolutely” important for his daughter to see him stand up for what he believes in.

“I think this is an example of hands-on social justice,” Martinez said. “I feel that any type of demonstration letting everybody know in a respectful way, what your position is in regards of a topic or a situation, I feel that it is a well opportunity.”

Amelia was also holding a sign saying, “My dad deserves a fair salary!” The quote was also written in Spanish on the poster.

Martinez said how the strike and his daughter coming out can impact the next generation.

“It’s a good opportunity for the new generation to learn and to also join us in the fight, as well as with students,” Martinez said.


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