EIU-UPI strike impacts the community

Adriana Hernadez-Santana, Junior Feature Editor

As Eastern’s chapter of University Professionals of Illinois, EIU-UPI, and Eastern’s negotiations continue to go through negotiations, the members of the community spoke out about how the strike not only affects them, but everyone surrounding them as well, including members of the Charleston community.

With the union members going on strike, former members of the community applauded them and stood alongside them.

Former faculty member for Eastern, Gail Mason, congratulated the members of the strike on their decision to go against the school and demand better pay for themselves, but he also calls it a “horrible thing” and wants better for the community members. 

“It’s unfortunate that you have all been, that we have been struggling with this,” Mason said. “And I wish you all the best of luck and stay firm, we’ve got to make sure everyone understands what’s going on and just how important this decision is.” 

As for the younger generation, the strike seemed to make them a bit more concerned for their futures in not only regards to school, but their potential careers. 

Freshman Kallie Steinkemp worries that something like this could be in her future as she studies to be a biology high school teacher. 

“It’s kind of crazy, because as a future educator, obviously I might be in these future positions like this,” Steinkemp said. “So I understand where the teachers are coming from. It’s just crazy to believe it’s happening, but I’m glad everyone is standing up and believing in what they want and what they need.”

Billy Hung, the lead negotiator for the union, said that the movement is not only critical for campus, but is also extremely critical for the outcome of the community. 

“Well, you know, we are one of the biggest employees, employers in the region, our union members, and other workers on campus are part of the community right?” Hung said. “Our children go to school here, we buy property here, we live here, we do home renovations here. Like, we are a community with everyone else here.”

Hung later said that the economic issues of how the strike could affect the city as a whole as well. He notes that every dollar that the state invested into the university, the community returns $1.59 in economic activities for the region. 

More money going into the school means more money for the community as a whole. 

But if the school stops receiving money, so does the community, and then what?

“So what’s happening here is not just about the union, it’s about the students, the campus, and the community,” said Hung.

In order to get the contract to pass, Hung said that the strikers will do whatever they can in their power to ensure the good of the professors, but the place they call home. 

“[We will stand here for] as long as it takes because we want a fair contract, and we want it now. So if it’s not today, then tomorrow, and if not tomorrow, then we’re ready to keep going,” Hung said. 


Adriana Hernandez-Santana can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].