SSU threatened by strike

By Sabryna Cornish

The Sangamon State University faculty union and the Board of Regents are heading back to the bargaining tables.

The union called off a press conference Tuesday in which it was expected to announce its intentions toward a strike. The union also announced that bargaining would begin at 9:30 a.m. today.

The union has not taken the steps toward a strike yet.

In order for SSU faculty to strike, it must file an intent to strike. The intent was not filed as of Friday, although University Professionals of Illinois, which is representing the disgruntled SSU faculty, said it would.

According to the Illinois Education Labor Relations Act, the faculty must file an intent to strike five days before actually walking out, said Chancellor’s Assistant Cheryl Peck.

“They (SSU faculty) said they were going to file an intent Friday, but then they didn’t,” she said.

Peck said the SSU faculty has been working since August without a contract.

The union is upset about the lack of salary increases, low benefits and what they said is a system filled with overpaid administrators.

In a written statement, the union said SSU administrators are paid more than their nationwide counterparts, while the faculty are underpaid compared to their peers at other institutions.

A federal mediator will try to resolve the problem, Peck said.

Patricia Langley, chief negotiator for the SSU union, said it is seeking a pay increase package of $270,000 for almost 600 employees.

Peck said the next step toward a settlement was the bargaining session today. “Talks ended and they agreed to see a mediator Friday,” she said.

The negotiations involve the SSU faculty, which makes up the majority of people involved in the strike, UPI and SSU clerical and service workers, Peck said.

“We’re hoping some progress can be made,” she said.

This is the second time the SSU faculty union has threatened to strike in two years.