UIS faculty approves new contract, avoids strike

“We’ve got a contract that is stronger than our previous contract”

Annual salary increases of 2% to 3.5% are part of a new four-year labor contract ratified by University of Illinois Springfield faculty members retroactive to the 2021-22 academic year.

“I was glad,” Kristi Barnwell, president of UIS United Faculty-Local 4100, told Illinois Times. “We’ve got a contract that is stronger than our previous contract.”

Ratified through an online vote over several days that culminated on May 11, the new contract follows a five-year contract that expired in August 2021.

The settlement came after dues-paying members of the 134-member bargaining unit voted April 19-20 to authorize a strike if the union’s leaders decided a walkout was necessary.

The union’s first contract was reached in May 2017 after a five-day strike.

Barnwell, an associate professor of history at UIS, said 85% of the union’s members participated in the ratification vote, and 98% voted “yes” on the new contract.

UIS spokesman Derek Schnapp had no comment on the ratification vote or on details of the agreement.

Union leaders and university officials announced on April 30 that they had reached a tentative settlement, pending final approval by the union and the university.

Across-the-board raises of 2% will be given retroactive to August 2021, followed by 3.5% for the 2022-2023 academic year, 3% in 2023-2024 and 2% in 2024-2025.

Additional raises of 1.5% to 2% will be given in the second, third and fourth years of the contract to certain faculty members to correct for racial and gender inequities and to better reflect market rates in academic specialties, Barnwell said.

The adjustments related to equity and salary “compression” will be made after the university conducts a salary study and receives recommendations from the union, she said.

A new provision in the contract allows each faculty member to teach one less course during the life of the contract so he or she can devote more time to scholarship, service or the development of new courses, Barnwell said.

Dean Olsen is a senior staff writer for Illinois Times. He can be reached at dolsen@illinoistimes.com or 217-679-7810.