By STEVE HORRELL
Edwardsville, IL – A mediator will be appointed soon in a move that may finally bring an end to more than two years of negotiations between the Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville administration and the union representing about 400 tenured and tenure-track faculty.
“We called for a mediator a couple of weeks ago, but apparently that takes time,” Kim Archer, music professor and president of the SIUE Faculty Association, said last week.
The decision to bring in a mediator is something both sides have agreed to, Archer said. An Illinois Education Association staffer is arranging for the mediator.
“He submitted the paperwork, he figured out which mediator we actually want, and he has put a call into that person’s office,” Archer said. “That person has yet to respond to us about his availability.”
It’s the latest wrinkle in talks that Archer said have dragged on for 25 months. Still, describing the situation as “at an impasse,” as some in the media have characterized it, is somewhat misleading, she said.
“We’re not at an impasse in the Labor sense of the word,” she says. “It’s more that they’re stalling out, like a car engine.” The talks, she acknowledged, “are going very slowly right now.”
Salary and workload are the sticking points. Average SIUE faculty salaries are $10,000 or more lower than salaries of equally qualified and experienced peers at SIU-Carbondale, University of Illinois-Springfield, Western Illinois University, Eastern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, and Governor’s State University, Archer said.
Considering that the university has cash reserves of $27 million, the administration’s salary offers have been too low, Archer said.