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Governors State University (GSU) faculty and staff union will strike Tuesday

GSU administration has until then to agree to bargain.

Educators at another state university will be walking the strike lines this month. The faculty and staff at Governors State University – members of the GSU University Professionals of Illinois (GSU UPI, IFT Local 4100) – declared a strike after a 8-hour bargaining session Thursday culminated in another inadequate offer from the university. “After all that time bargaining, administration just walked away from the table,” said GSU UPI President Mike Hart. “There was no sense of urgency. The university wouldn’t agree to bargain further to avert a strike, so we will be heading to the picket lines on Tuesday, April 11. Our members are among the lowest paid in the state. The increase they’re offering wouldn’t cover a year’s worth of gas to drive to work. We are dedicated to this university. We’ve sacrificed raises when times were tough under Governor Rauner – we shouldn’t have to keep sacrificing.”Union members are asking for a raise that reflects the high-quality work they do for GSU students, as state funding is now improved and stable. The other issue on the table is workload, which directly affects the level of service that academic support professionals can provide to students. The union did manage to negotiate a tentative agreement on parental leave, convincing the university to agree to 25 days.Hart continued: “GSU administration has until 5:30 pm on Monday to bargain with us and settle this. Otherwise, we’ll be on strike first thing on Tuesday morning. We stand ready to negotiate anytime.”GSU is a Minority Serving Institution and an emerging Hispanic Serving Institution and had committed to eliminate racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps by 2025. But to ensure students get appropriate support to graduate and begin a career, critical staffing issues and workload must be addressed. “We need the university to work with us to address the workload issue, because it’s crushing our staff and hurting our students,” said Carla Johnson, a graduate academic advisor and vice president of academic support professionals in the union. “I have 500-600 student advisees on my plate. Many of our students are first generation college students. Many of our students are continuing their education as adults to get their degree. They need support from us to balance their academic work with their personal lives. How can I assist them all when my workload is this heavy? There aren’t enough hours in the day. Our advisors need support so that we can support our students.”The two sides have been bargaining since June 2022, and entered mediation in December. Union members took a strike vote in March after little progress was made in sessions with a mediator, and with strong support of the members, they filed their intent to strike on March 27.“The fact that all three of our bargaining tables in different parts of the state have come to this point is disappointing,” said UPI Local 4100 President and IFT Executive Vice President of Higher Education John Miller. “These universities have no problem giving double digit raises to their administrators and presidents. Our members work with students every day, and they deserve the respect and equity that comes from a fair contract that recognizes their value. Our members will join their union sisters and brothers from Chicago State and Eastern Illinois Universities on strike until a fair contract is won.”CSU UPI members have been on strike since Monday. EIU UPI began their strike yesterday.GSU UPI union members will begin walking the picket lines on Tuesday, April 11. The next bargaining session is scheduled for April 12.

The Governors State University chapter of the University Professionals of Illinois (GSU-UPI, IFT Local 4100) represents about 280 tenured and tenure-track faculty, not-tenure track lecturers, and academic support professionals at Governors State University. They are affiliated with the Illinois Federation of Teachers and American Federation of Teachers.The Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) represents 103,000 teachers and paraprofessionals in PreK-12 school districts throughout Illinois, faculty and staff at Illinois’ community colleges and universities, public employees under every statewide elected constitutional officer, and retirees. 

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