Faculty members at Western Illinois University overwhelmingly approved a new three-year contract.
John Miller, President, University Professionals of Illinois Local 4100, said about 93% of those who voted on the contract granted their support. But he added it took quite a bit of explaining to convince them to agree to the deal.
“They’re very frustrated with the situation. Frustrated with the administration, frustrated with the state,” Miller said.
Faculty expected to receive a four-percent raise next fiscal year, which was the final year of their contract. Instead, that pact will be torn up and replaced with a new three-year agreement that will give pay raises of two-percent in each of the first two years and one-percent in the final year.
The new contract must still be approved by the WIU Board of Trustees, which is scheduled to meet December 13 in Macomb.
Miller said this is the second time in recent years that faculty have agreed to contract concessions to help WIU through difficult financial times.
“In the end I think people agreed that what we didn’t want to see is other employees lose jobs or be harmed. We didn’t want to see the massive additional cuts that were potentially coming because of the financial challenges,” Miller said.
“And so for the betterment of the community, the betterment of our students ... that’s why they voted for this. And I think that’s ultimately what the bottom line was: this is good for this institution, it’s good for our students.”
He said the new contract includes some important improvements, including a provision that gives release time for faculty to work on grant writing. He said that will ultimately benefit students.
Miller said once the new contract is in place, the UPI can focus on two key issues: state funding of higher education in general and WIU in particular, and finding more money for MAP grants and other programs that help students pay for a college education.