Professors March for Fair Contract


Photo By Dan Maurer

Dan Maurer, News Editor

A green tide of professors marched through the halls of Northeastern Illinois University, chanting “Union power on the rise” and “No more admin tricks and lies.” On March 2, 2023, they marched a circuit from Village Square, past Building C and through the College of Business and Technology, before circling back to the Student Union. University Professionals of Illinois (UPI) Local 4100, the union representing staff and faculty at NEIU, has been in negotiations with the university administration for a new contract. The current five-year contract expired in 2019 and has been rolling over ever since.

In December, UPI held a teach-in in Village Square, where union members spoke with students about the negotiations and what they could mean for students. At the time, the administration had proposed increasing teacher workload without providing additional pay or benefits. That proposal is still on the table. Dr. Steve Frankel, senior instructor of biology and one of the vice presidents of the union, said the original proposal from NEIU’s administration had not included any kind of mechanism for a raise, meaning newly hired teachers would not be able to receive a raise until a new contract is negotiated in five years. He added that, throughout negotiations, UPI and the administration had yet to exchange financial proposals.

UPI is currently collecting signatures for strike cards, asking members to say that they are willing to go on strike, should the need arise. As of March 2, 2023, less than 100 cards had been signed.

The professor’s march ended on the second floor of the Student Union, where they continued chanting and singing in front of the conference room where negotiations were set to take place. Professors cheered and clapped to calls of “What’s disgusting? Union busting!” and “What’s outrageous? Stagnant wages!” as well as, “What’s appalling? Bosses Stalling!” The chants went on until negotiations began at 2 p.m.

During negotiations, UPI made two proposals: One regarding diversity, equity and inclusion, and another about the disciplinary process. The administration voiced no proposals. Lasting less than an hour, the negotiations were short.