SIU faculty voting on strike despite offer

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University faculty began casting ballots Monday on whether to authorize union leaders to call a strike despite a proposal by university officials aimed at ending the impasse over a new contract.

On Friday, administration negotiators offered the faculty a four-year package that includes no raise in 2002-2003 school year, and raises each of the subsequent three years tied to state appropriations, plus an additional 1 percent, said Worthen Hunsaker, SIU's associate vice chancellor for academic affairs.

The proposal also calls for renegotiating the raise in any year the state asks universities to give back some of their funding, as the state did last year.

The union, which represents about 60 percent of the 688 full-time faculty at the Carbondale campus, is considering the offer but is not happy with it, said spokesman Jim Kelly.

Faculty negotiators will submit a formal response when talks resume Friday, he said.

The SIUC professors, who earn an average $60,200 yearly, are demanding a 21 percent raise in salary and benefits over three years, as well as the hiring of more professors to decrease the professor-student ratio. The union claims the school can afford it despite more than $10 million in state budget cuts this year.

Public university professors in Illinois average $66,000 annually.

If union members authorize a strike, leaders will call for a walkout if university negotiators don't meet their demands by Feb. 3, union president Mortezea Daneshdoost said.

Voting will continue until Wednesday.

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