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By Gus Bode

Dear Editor:

In the spirit of full disclosure, let me first say that I am a union member and supporter and have been for the last dozen or so years. Being admitted to SIUC, I was a public employee for more than a decade and am proud of my experience in public service.

When I discovered the graduate assistants at SIUC were organized into a union, I was absolutely thrilled.  I couldn’t wait to join and exercise my activist muscles once again.


When I discovered the situation at SIUC, I was disappointed to see such a familiar environment: a cynical and obstinate administration that plays to people’s fears in hopes that the workers won’t garner any community support in their efforts to bargain a fair contract and maintain some dignity.

This is really the same old story.

The administration claims poverty and accuses unions of asking for the world in a challenging fiscal environment, implying they are selfish and greedy.

Union members, probably more than most, are well aware of the fact that public agencies have been in budgetary crisis-mode for a decade.

But instead of bargaining in good faith, Chancellor Rita Cheng sends out ‘captive audience’ emails claiming the administration’s bargaining team has “made numerous concessions to these four unions,” as if the union is some external entity.

The unions, Chancellor, are the workers.  When you cast aspersion on “the union,” those in the know realize you are blaming the workers for your administration’s intransigence.

More than 450 days without a contract?  I don’t know of any “pro-union” leader who could call that successful.


When is the board of trustees going to admit the chancellor they hired can’t get the job done and place the blame for these labor/management troubles on management? Admittedly, I cannot put this thought to rest: The board knew exactly what they were doing in bringing Cheng to SIUC, and she is doing exactly what they want.  Perhaps those of us who have used the chancellor as the target of our scorn ought to redirect our frustration at the board of trustees?

Robert Velez 

graduate Student in

political science from New York