SSU faculty union protests at BOR meeting

By Ken Goze

Deadlocked negotiations over pay increases brought members of the Sangamon State University faculty union to Thursday’s Board of Regents meeting, once again raising the spectre of a strike at the Springfield school.

About 10 members of the University Professionals of Illinois marched into the meeting carrying blue-and-white printed signs that read “Unfair to SSU faculty.”

The group came to protest the lack of salary increases, low benefits, and what they said is a system filled with overpaid administrators.

In a written statement, the union charges that SSU administrators are paid from 12 to 30 percent more than the median salaries of their counterparts nationwide, while SSU faculty earn as much as 20 percent less than their peers at comparable institutions.

The statement blames the Regents for the disparity, claiming the Board has contributed to the state’s fiscal problems and to the demoralization of employees by enriching administrators while ignoring teachers.

Patricia Langley, chief negotiator for the SSU union, said the organization is seeking a $270,000 salary increase package for SSU’s nearly 600 employees. The union has been working without a contract since last June. SSU is the only Regency school with unionized faculty.

Langley said the issue has gone to federal mediation and the bargaining team has authorized a strike.

“We’re not asking to break the bank. This ($270,000) is out of a $24 million budget,” she said. “All we’re asking is that they not balance the budget on the backs of the people that do the work.”

Groves said he “categorically denies” charges that SSU faculty are being shortchanged. “You can get data that prove almost anything.”

Groves said any accurate figures for comparison must include a full range of faculty rather than only the higher-paid full professors.

Groves said he is hopeful that an agreement can be reached.