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Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016 12:05 am

CONTRACT, PLEASE

While officials with the state and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the biggest union of state employees, hurl accusations and insults at each other while contract negotiations go nowhere, the faculty at the University of Illinois Springfield have taken a less verbose approach as they attempt to get a labor contract with the university. Last week, UIS  United Faculty, the union chapter certified in 2015 that represents faculty members, organized an observance, complete with cake, at the university’s Public Affairs Center to mark the one-year anniversary of contract negotiations that have so far produced no contract. There was no name calling in the press release, no accusations of being greedy or unfair. “We are proud to be at an institution where teaching is the first priority and students are our focus,” Donna Russell, an English professor and contract negotiator, said in the release. “We are fighting to keep UIS a great place to go to college. But we face many challenges, including low salaries that have hardly budged in 10 years.” How’s that for some white-hot rhetoric? John Little, field service director for the Illinois Federation of Teachers that includes the UIS union in its portfolio, said that it isn’t unusual for negotiations for a first contract to take awhile. Still, Little says that the in public statements doesn’t reflect satisfaction with the pace of negotiations.

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