SIU files unfair-labor complaint against faculty

Tuesday, November 5, 2002

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University officials filed a complaint against the university's faculty Monday with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, the latest punch in a bitter fight over a new contract.

SIU officials say the faculty's 688-member union is not bargaining in good faith, is bringing up old and settled issues and is threatening to strike over issues not on the bargaining table, SIU lawyer Mark Brittingham said Monday.

Union officials did not immediately return a telephone message left by The Associated Press.

The union, which claims its members are paid far less than faculty at similar universities, filed an intent-to-strike notice with the the labor board Oct. 30, clearing the way for a walkout anytime after a mandatory, 10-day "cooling off" period expires Nov. 10.

The SIU professors, who earn an average of $60,200 yearly, are demanding a 21 percent raise in salary and benefits over three years. The union claims the school has the money to pay it despite absorbing more than $10 million in state budget cuts this year.

Public university professors in Illinois average $66,000 annually, according to the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

SIU officials have offered a five-year plan that included no raise for the current year and unspecified raises each of the following four years tied to future state appropriations. They say they can afford no more.

The Educational Labor Relations Board will appoint an investigator to look into the allegations, said Elizabeth Gaffney, head investigator for the state agency.

The agency's executive director will ultimately decide whether a hearing will be conducted on the allegations, she said.

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