University unions rally for fairness in bargaining

By Jessie Webster

Nearly 100 faculty and community members gathered around the Swanlund Administration Buildling Wednesday, chanting “U of I is unfair, we want our fair share!”  

Members of University unions met at 12 p.m. to protest the administration’s move to freeze union wages and their ability to negotiate at the bargaining table.

The “rally for a fair shake” served as a precursor to the unions’ bargaining session with the administration to be held on Thursday, where they plan to present their economic proposals.  

Conducting the rally were members from the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees local union #3700 and #698, along with non-tenure-track faculty from the Campus Faculty Association local union #6546, who met outside Swanlund Administration Building.  

The group identified their main demands to include: bargaining in good faith, following through promised wages and recognizing CFA local #6546 as a legitimate bargaining unit of non-tenure track faculty. 

Shawn Gilmore, president of local CFA #6546 and English lecturer, saw the purpose of the rally as a chance to remove any uncertainty for the administration as to the seriousness of the unions’ demands.

“We want to make sure it’s clear to the upper levels of administration that the unions are bargaining in good faith, and that they are moving forward their proposals,” Gilmore said.    

Part of CFA’s concern is that they believe the administration illegally froze promotions and raises for non-tenure track faculty in retaliation for decisions to unionize.  

Kay Emmert, lead negotiator for CFA local #6546 and English lecturer, said the University’s actions have lead to issues with “compression” of staff. She believes some people who have been with the University for 20 years are making less money than people who were hired this year.  

Christina De Angelo, grievance committee chair for CFA Local #6546 and a faculty member in the Spanish and Portuguese language department, believes the wage freeze has been difficult on members.

“The administration promised an increase, and faculty planned on that,” De Angelo said. “To have that suddenly taken away is a big blow.”  

Jessie can be reached at [email protected]