Contract talks resume Oct. 17

By Gus Bode

University officials and the faculty union plan to return to the bargaining table next week to hammer out the final details of a new contract more than three months after the previous one expired.

Negotiators are due to resume talks Oct. 17 and18. The two sides temporarily halted meetings in August to separately discuss three contended issues that prevented the contract’s completion.

The administration’s spokesman Gary Kolb, who is also associate dean of the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, said SIUC officials want to finish negotiations by the end of the day Oct. 18.

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Bargaining teams deadlocked on tenure and promotion issues, pay raises and a proposal from the Faculty Association asking all faculty members vote for a service charge to the union that would be applied to non-members.

Faculty Association spokeswoman Lenore Langsdorf, a professor of speech communication, said the union remains dedicated to interest-based bargaining with the university.

Union members want their pay to be equal to that of faculty members at similar universities and want a stronger voice when professors are denied tenure and promotion.

Kolb said the university now has a more definite idea of its financial situation and can better work with the union’s requests.

SIUC is down about $2.3 million from the on-campus enrollment drop compared to last year. Kolb said each on-campus student amounts to about $4,000 in revenue for the university, and the declining numbers put pressure on an already-strained budget.

“There’s troubling financial news on the horizon,” he said.

Administrators have stated they are willing to double salaries when faculty members are promoted from associate professor to assistant professor and from assistant professor to full professor. Also, 20 percent of extra income generated by increased enrollment would be plugged into merit accounts.

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The four-year contract, which would expire in summer of 2010, would include a 3 percent annual salary increase. Half of the increase each year would be distributed across the board while the other half would be plugged into department merit pay accounts, which distribute raises based on job performance.

Kolb said he did not expect the administration’s offers to change.

“I don’t know how many new options will be put on the table,” he said.

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

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