Strike Day 5: Students, community members join Eastern’s union in striking

Cam'ron Hardy, News Editor

Picketers strike in front of Old Main for day four of not being in the classrooms to protest for a fair contract Tuesday afternoon. (Ashanti Thomas)

Eastern’s chapter of University Professionals of Illinois, EIU-UPI, continued their strike for the fifth day while celebrating their students and community day.

Union members, students and community members met for “Pizza in the Park” at Morton Park from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Chips, pizza and other refreshments were available for those who attended.

From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., students joined faculty members on the picket lines in front of Old Main.

From 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., community members were invited to join the strike line and walk with union members.

Rashad Oliver, a senior digital media technology major, was present at the pizza in the park event.

Oliver said he came out to support teachers who are not getting their “fair share of earnings.” Oliver also said support from the community makes an impact.

“There’s unity here, and if the faculty is unhappy, then the students are unhappy and the students are going to stand with the faculty because that’s where our loyalty is at,” Oliver said.

With the strike going on, Oliver is unable to attend classes and it is taking a toll on his education.

“I can’t go to class, I’m not learning,” Oliver said. “I came here to learn and because administration doesn’t want to compensate, my education is suffering.”

Jason Farias, a senior history education major was in attendance at the event. Farias also said he came out to the event to support the teachers.

“I think the administration is fighting on two fronts,” Farias said. “One is negotiation against the teachrs, but also in public opinion and I think the administration is kind of using the students. They try to use the students against the teachers. I think they’re trying to manipulate the narrative in their favor. But I think students should be out here to show that we stand with the teachers and and support their strength.”

Sean Haynes, a senior art teacher education major, waves a hand fan in support of all the faculty striking while passing by in front of Old Main Tuesday afternoon. (Ashanti Thomas)

Similarly to Oliver, Farias is unable to attend classes. Farias referred to signs posted around Eastern’s campus informing students on how much every weekday class costs.

Ann Brownson, a retired faculty member of Eastern and current member of the Charleston community said she came out in support of her colleagues.

“We’re striking for better working conditions and higher wages because they’ve given and given and given and they’re tired of not getting anything,” Brownson said.

While working, Brownson said she never had to go on strike, and was fortunate for that, but came close a couple of times, but were always able to settle the contract before it came to that.

Spencer Spear, an educational leadership graduate student, supports his wife, Shelly Spear, an English instructor, in her fight for a fair contract in front of Old Main Wednesday afternoon. (Tyriq Johnson)

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.


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