EIU-UPI, admin comments on strike suspension


Tyriq Johnson

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.

Madelyn Kidd, Editor-in-Chief

Jennifer Stringfellow, president of Eastern’s chapter of University Professionals of Illinois and special education professor, said she is no longer surprised when disappointed by Eastern’s administration.

EIU-UPI and Eastern’s administration released statements on the union’s decision to suspend the six-day long strike and resume working.

This decision was made after Eastern announced their “final and best” contract proposal offer on Tuesday after the negotiation meeting between the two sides ended.

Stringfellow said the administration has shown how they feel about the situation through their actions.

“EIU’s administration has demonstrated how they truly feel about the instruction and instructional support at EIU throughout this negotiation process,” Stringfellow said. “I have found that I’m no longer surprised when I’m disappointed by the administration of this institution. We would never have been on strike if they had bargained more honestly from the beginning. Now, their refusal to bargain terms to end the strike does not give me much confidence in their respect for our profession of educating students. However, this line in the sand that they have drawn is the reality, and we must accept it. We look forward to being back in our classrooms and offices, teaching and supporting our students.”

Stringfellow said the negotiation process for a new contract, which began on March 21, 2022, has been difficult.

“We knew this wouldn’t be easy from the start, and we were right,” Stringfellow said. “I am heartened by the unified strength and care that our members showed throughout this process, despite the administration’s various attempts to derail and delay. We know our cause is just, and we stood up, together, for the entire campus to demand that this administration prioritize our students and the educators and staff who teach and support them.”

Eastern said they were pleased in the decision to suspend the strike in a statement.

“Eastern Illinois University is pleased to inform our students, the campus, and the Charleston community that UPI members will return to their classrooms and offices tomorrow — Friday, April 14, 2023,” Eastern said. “EIU thanks all parties for their commitment to our students and willingness to collaboratively chart a pathway forward as the University and its UPI partners work together to advance EIU’s mission.”

Billy Hung, EIU-UPI’s lead negotiator and a biology professor, said all of the union’s choices have been with Eastern students in mind.

“We always act with our students in mind, and we make decisions with transparency and by involving all of our members because we are a democratic organization that is only strengthened by the participation of everyone,” Hung said. “I am tremendously proud of our members, and so thoroughly grateful to our supportive students and community members. Because of their support we have gained a contract in which working conditions are significantly improved for all our members. The financial offer remains an effective pay cut, but our members knew that we had to consider this package despite the cost to our own financial well-being because we know that improving conditions for our advisors, counselors and faculty means improving the learning environment for all of our students.” 

A union ratification vote is planned for next week to vote on accepting the contract agreement officially.


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