Faculty contract status in limbo

By Gus Bode

University administrators are awaiting a response from SIUC’s faculty union after making their final offer in contract talks last week, and it is unclear whether negotiations have reached the second stalemate in just as many months.

Faculty Association spokeswoman Lenore Langsdorf said union leaders see Wednesday’s offer as grounds for an impasse because the university left open two of three contentious issues that caused a nearly two-month standstill in August.

Meanwhile, the administration’s spokesman Gary Kolb said it would be premature to consider negotiations at a deadlock until another meeting between the teams determined so. As of Sunday, Kolb said no other meeting had been set.


Langsdorf said the union’s Departmental Representative Council would meet within the next two weeks to determine the next steps for the organization, which union leaders say consists of about half of SIUC’s instructional faculty.

Langsdorf said a strike would be an extreme measure.

“All options are open, but certainly nobody wants that,” Langsdorf said. “We do not want to interrupt the educational process.”

On Wednesday, the two sides held their most recent bargaining session, which was apparently the final session of interest-based bargaining. In that meeting, the university made its final offer.

Kolb said negotiators had undergone a “hybrid model” of interest-based bargaining and pursued it as far as they could.

“There always comes a time in any bargaining when the issues have been thoroughly explored and an offer needs to be put on the table,” Kolb said on behalf of SIUC officials and the Board of Trustees.

A statement issued by the union Friday lamented the university’s “abandonment of negotiations.”


“The (Faculty Association) bargaining team and executive committee regret the Board of Trustees’ failure to abide by the initially agreed-upon process of interest-based bargaining and the resulting loss of energy, time and funding that was invested by the members of both teams,” the statement read.

The statement released by Langsdorf, a speech communication professor and vice president of the Faculty Association, indicated the administration’s team had showed no interest in hearing the mediator’s recommendations on three contentious issues that caused a deadlock on talks in August.

Kolb, the associate dean for the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, said he had not seen the union statement until contacted by the DAILY EGYPTIAN on Sunday. He said he found it odd that neither he nor anyone else on the university bargaining team received the statement.

Kolb said the university did not abandon bargaining. Instead, the team made an offer to prevent negotiations from going on indefinitely.

Negotiators had already heard several recommendations from the mediator during the more than 100 hours of talks and needed no further counsel, Kolb said.

“From our point of view, that doesn’t need to happen,” he said.

The main objective of interest-based bargaining was to avoid similarity to the contentious negotiations of 2002 that almost caused a faculty strike. Negotiators agreed to interest-based bargaining, in which both sides bring their positions to the table and use a neutral facilitator to reach an agreement.

Both sides in the spring semester paid $20,000 on bargaining workshops and hired a mediator from the Northwestern University School of Law.

Kolb said interest-based bargaining was beneficial and provided the administration many options and issues to explore for its offer.

“We have no regrets with regard to any of that, but we recognized that the time to make an offer had come,” Kolb said.

The old contract, which expired June 30, remains in effect until an agreement is reached. The new five-year contract will expire in summer 2011.

Brandon Weisenberger can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 254 or [email protected].