EIU-UPI responds to EIU’s ‘middle of the night’ statement, calls out admin’s lawyer


Rob Le Cates

Tatiana Stringer (left), a sophomore health administration major, rings a cowbell and blows an airhorn encouraging drivers to honk in support of the union contract negotiations outside Old Main on their fourth day of picketing for a fair contract Tuesday morning.

Madelyn Kidd, Editor-in-Chief

Eastern’s chapter of University Professionals of Illinois, EIU-UPI, responded to Eastern’s announcement of their final offer for a new contract and criticized the administrative hired lawyer Mark Bennett for “double booking.”

EIU-UPI have been bargaining for a new faculty contract since March 21, 2022. They have been working without a contract since Aug. 31. The union began striking on Thursday.

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.

Eastern’s administration and EIU-UPI met for a bargaining session Tuesday at 4 p.m. until approximately 10:50 p.m.

EIU-UPI gave their last economic proposal for the meeting around 10:30 p.m. before leaving for the day to prevent the union bargaining making unnecessary mistakes due to the late night.

Eastern’s last proposal includes an across the board salary increase over four fiscal years of 5 percent, 4 percent, 3 percent and 3 percent. Eastern’s total proposal would now cost the university $6.6M over the four years of the contract, according to Eastern’s press release.

Eastern expressed disappointment with EIU-UPI after they left the bargaining table.

Jennifer Stringfellow, EIU-UPI’s president and a professor of special education, called the press release and Glassman’s comment released on Monday a “new low.”

“President Glassman’s statement was a new low,” Stringfellow said. “By not bargaining in good faith for as long as it took on Monday, April 3, and by not negotiating reasonably for 13 months before that, the EIU administration has brought this upon themselves. They talk about abandoning students. Where were you when we were fighting for our students since March of 2022? Where were you when we educated our students on the lawn of Doudna Hall in September on what our labor is worth and how our contract affects them? Where were you when we exposed how EIU treats their employees, who are dedicated to educating future teachers, yet may not make enough to ever enjoy retirement security after decades of service teaching?”

The union planned to continue bargaining Wednesday at 10 a.m.; however, Eastern’s administration declined by sending a final contract offer through email.

The EIU-UPI bargaining team is meeting on Wednesday to consider Eastern’s final proposal.

Billy Hung, EIU-UPI’s lead negotiator and a biology professor, said they sent the union’s last proposal assuming the administration would need and take time to consider it.

“It makes me hopeful to see that President Glassman is concerned with reaching a deal after dragging this out for more than a year,” Hung said. “We sent our proposal last night assuming that the administration would take appropriate time to consider it and continue our discussion together in the morning. Instead, they sent us a final offer an hour later and sent the media a middle-of-the-night press release. I am disappointed by this step that administration took because they are clearly trying to force a deal onto our members. This damages the process and it is a disservice to our campus and community.”

EIU-UPI said the administration’s hired lawyer, Mark Bennett, is also the administrative lawyer for Chicago State University and Governor State University’s administration negotiation teams for their respective faculty contract negotiations as well.

Chicago State’s chapter of UPI began their strike on April 3 and Governor State began their strike on Tuesday.

Governor State had a negotiation meeting on Thursday and Eastern had theirs on Friday. On Thursday, Bennett scheduled to meet for the next bargaining session on Wednesday. During the meeting with EIU-UPI Friday, Bennett scheduled to meet with EIU-UPI for negotiating Tuesday and Wednesday, according to EIU-UPI.

EIU-UPI said Bennett seemed to double-book himself and had to cancel the negotiation session with EIU-UPI on Wednesday since Governor State’s was scheduled first.

John Miller, the president of UPI, said the three universities’ administration sharing the same lawyer makes the negotiation process longer.

“This attorney’s presence throughout this process at multiple campuses explains some of the union-busting and stall tactics we’ve seen at the tables,” Miller said. “It’s tough to reach a compromise with someone who has an ulterior motive to weaken our power as a union of dedicated education workers. We’ve always bargained with our students front of mind – no matter the campus – because we value strengthening Illinois’ public universities by investing in our students and the student-facing staff and faculty who educate and guide them towards a career.” 

EIU-UPI is holding a union membership meeting Thursday at 2 p.m. after picketing from 9 a.m. to noon. The membership meeting will be through Zoom and the union’s bargaining team will present a financial analysis of Eastern’s last offer and considering how to move forward.


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