Greg Cima and Brian Peach

By Gus Bode

Chamber of Commerce speaks out against strike

Businesses, city officials see negative impact of strike

The Carbondale Chamber of Commerce asked for a deadline extension in the faculty contract negotiations, citing the “devastating” impact a strike would have on the business community.


The chamber’s poll of local community businesses showed no support for a faculty strike. According to the results, 96 percent of those surveyed do not support the faculty strike, while the remaining 4 percent had no opinion.

About 11 percent of the members responded to the poll, and 91 percent of those polled said a strike would negatively impact the business community.

The chamber took the position to request both sides return to the bargaining table to serve the well being of the community and the University.

Carl Rexroad, owner of The Bookworm, 618 E. Walnut St., said his business was one of those that received a survey. He sympathizes with both sides in the negotiations, but said a strike would probably do more harm than good.

“It’s causing divisions in the community, and the sooner we get it resolved, the less damage it will do to the city and business in Carbondale as a whole,” Rexroad said.

Faculty Association spokesman James Kelly said there is no way to know what impact a strike will have.

“There has never been a faculty strike in Carbondale,” Kelly said. “The impact of the strike would depend on the duration.”


Kelly said the decision to strike could be averted by the SIU Board of Trustees agreeing to enter into binding arbitration, where a third party would settle the contract. He said the Departmental Representative Council, the union’s leadership team, knows the chamber’s position and will take it into consideration.

Kelly said the original deadline was Monday and it has already been extended. He said faculty members were instructed to teach classes today. It is still unclear as to when or if a strike will be called next week.

Chancellor Walter Wendler said he is hopeful that a recommendation for a vote among the members will avert a strike. He said he agrees with the survey, saying a strike would hurt the business community, as well as students.

Wendler said that even strike discussions are having a negative impact, and a strike itself would be devastating.

Mayor Neil Dillard said the Carbondale City Council would not take any official action on the strike until Tuesday’s meeting, but said the impact of a strike would be harmful to people in the community, as well as all of southern Illinois.

“A work stoppage could have a great impact on the city of Carbondale, the residents of the city and the business community,” Dillard said.

City Councilman Brad Cole agreed with the chamber’s position adding that the impact a strike would cause is one “that we probably can’t afford.”

“I agree that a strike would be devastating for the business community and devastating for the region,” Cole said. “Anything that happens at SIU in a negative way is a detriment to the community.”

City Councilwoman Maggie Flanagan said she agreed with the business community’s actions and said the council only wants a resolution to the situation.

“I’m sure they can work it out if that is their intention,” Flanagan said.

Mayor Dillard offered his office as a discussion forum for the two sides at a City Council meeting Jan. 21. This was in an effort to alleviate tension by meeting in a neutral environment, but neither side has accepted his offer.

Reporter Greg Cima can be reached at [email protected]

Reporter Brian Peach can be reached at [email protected]