Edwardsville, IL – Just one minute, says the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Faculty Association to the university administration.
Just because it’s a new union negotiating its first contract doesn’t mean that faculty can’t get an overdue, retroactive inflation adjustment now that the state finally has a budget, notes Kim Archer, president of the union in a letter to SIUE President Randy Dunn.
“The SIUE Faculty Association has been made aware of discussions at the system level based on the misconception that a retroactive inflation adjustment cannot be issued to the SIUE because we are in the midst of bargaining our first contract,” she wrote. “Collective bargaining does not in any way prohibit SIU from giving a raise to its faculty.”
Archer points out that the faculty members have already had to live with a four-year salary freeze on wages that were already 12 percent below the state average. Only Chicago State University and University of Illinois-Springfield faculty make less.
The last raise was a two percent merit-based increase in 2014, which did not apply equally to all faculty. Since then, the Consumer Price Index has risen about two percent each year.
“For an assistant professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, where salaries start as low as $40,500 a year, that’s about $3,335 in lost wages,” Archer told Dunn. “Add to that the strain of paying out of pocket for health care, as well as the new retroactive increase in state income tax, and today, your SIUE faculty’s economic situation is urgent.”
“Likewise, your SIUE faculty now asks that you help to repair the economic damage from our past sacrifices on behalf of students, and do so independent of present or future bargaining,” Archer said.
THE NEW UNIT
The Faculty Association represents about 400 tenured and tenure-track faculty. It was recognized as a bargaining unit last December after more than half the eligible members signed forms authorizing collective bargaining.
Faculty members started the campaign in response to the state budget stalemate in Springfield, saying faculty members needed a stronger voice – “a place at the table when hard decisions need to be made,” as Archer put it.
The union is affiliated with the Illinois Education Association-NEA, which also represents locals for non-tenure track faculty, professional staff and technical staff – a total of about 900 employees at the university.