The Spoon River College Faculty Association said its members don’t want to strike. But they’ve taken action to ensure that option is on the table.
The SRCFA approved a ten-day “Intent to Strike” notice. The vote was taken January 11. Spokesperson Kay Norton said the vote was unanimous, though not all 34 members were present.
The Association represents full-time faculty members. Norton said they have been working without a contract since August. She said the notice is the next step in the process of trying to negotiate an agreement.
“We are fervently hoping that it will not come to further steps in the process,” Norton said, leaving unsaid that the next step in the process could be a strike authorization vote if an agreement cannot be reached.
SRC President Curt Oldfield also hoped to avoid a walkout.
"Obviously neither side wants a work stoppage to happen. But that will certainly be the faculty’s decision whether that work stoppage occurs or not,” Oldfield said.
Both sides said money is a key issue.
“We continue to be the lowest paid community college faculty in the State of Illinois. The lowest,” said Norton.
Oldfield said SRC has a younger faculty, which is why salaries are lower than at community colleges where teachers have worked more years.
Norton said teachers are also concerned about professional advancement issues, though Oldfield did not consider that to be as much of a concern in the talks.
Oldfield said the college will be prepared if teachers go on strike.
“We will have a plan to try to minimize the disruption to our students,” Oldfield said. “If that decision comes from the faculty to have a work stoppage, then we as a college would be committed to try to continue those courses to the best of our abilities.”
That could potentially be done with adjunct professors.
The two sides have met twice with a federal mediator. Two more mediated bargaining sessions are scheduled: one for January 22, the other for January 29.
Norton said this is the first “Intent to Strike” notice filed by faculty in SRC’s history.
SRC has campuses in Canton, Macomb, Rushville, and Havana.