Term faculty inch closer to union

By Gus Bode

Faculty-wide vote to be taken in April

The Faculty Senate voted by a 2 to 1 margin Tuesday to allow SIUC’s term faculty to inch one step closer to having a separate representative body on campus.

Now, a faculty-wide vote will be taken sometime in April to gauge whether the University’s faculty agree with the senate’s vote and recommendation. The vote would put two non-tenured faculty members on the senate. The senate is a constituency body that acts as an adviser to the administration and addresses some of the faculty’s grievances.


David Vitoff, an Illinois Education Association union organizer, has been leading efforts in Carbondale to unionize its non-tenured faculty. Vitoff said the vote is a step in the right direction toward unionization.

“By virtue of their employment, they are being treated differently,” Vitoff said. “They don’t have the protection of the tenure system or the civil service system. They are very vulnerable.”

Last year, SIU-Edwardsville term faculty voted overwhelmingly to unionize, becoming the second university in Illinois to do so. SIUE’s decision to unionize sparked a movement on SIUC’s campus toward unionizing.

There are 520 term faculty at SIUC. If the vote passes, it would cut the number of senators for SIU’s School of Medicine in Springfield in half. The SIU School of Medicine’s term faculty population is 64 percent of its total faculty body.

Keith Wilson, co-chairman of SIUC’s Non-Tenure Track Faculty Association Steering Committee, passed out fliers at the meeting that read, “We agree that this is clearly a positive first step in the long-process of integrating an essential group of faculty into the shared governance of this University.”

Wilson was alongside Vitoff as the vote passed in a secret ballot of 12 to 6. The Daily Egyptian witnessed the School of Medicine’s vote against the measure through a large screen satellite feed of its member. Wilson said the vote signaled the University’s need to have an open dialogue about its term faculty and their working conditions on campus.

“This is an experiment in shared governance,” Wilson said.


Administrators at the meeting questioned the number of term faculty proposal to represent arguably one of the University’s largest employment blocs. Chancellor Walter Wendler, who was present at the meeting, said the term faculty members at SIUC often carry heavier class loads than tenured faculty members.

Provost John Dunn questioned the number of faculty members who would represent non-tenured faculty in the senate. He said two faculty members for such a large group seemed like a strange number.

“Why not one? Why two? Why not 30?” Dunn asked.

Michael Sullivan, the chairwoman of the senate’s governance committee, said trying to come up with an appropriate number for the number of senators was a question that could be determined by the senators once they were elected to the senate. The senate then would augment the seats accordingly.

“They can ask, ‘Why are there only two of us here?'” Sullivan said in response to Dunn’s question.

Reporter Moustafa Ayad can be reached at [email protected]