Faculty strike at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)
Chicago, IL – 1100 faculty members at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) went on strike, Feb. 18, to demand a fair contract. Several rallies drew 500 strikers and their supporters to the middle of campus.
These members of Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) Local 6456 showed a high degree of solidarity. Issues in the strike include a wage increase for the entire bargaining unit, but also a minimum salary for the non-tenured full-time lecturers – teachers with PhDs currently earning only $30,000 a year. IFT Local 6456 is demanding a $45,000 minimum for them.
The union points to the wrong priorities in place at the university, where tuition has risen 25% since 2007 and where the school has over $1 billion in reserves, but where faculty are not paid what they are worth. Most professors have gone two years without raises. Three years ago, their pay was docked through the use of furlough days.
IFT leaders blame the Board of Trustees and University President Bob Easter. Joe Persky, president of UIC United Faculty, said in a statement, “The administration’s priorities don’t match the University’s mission, and after trying to negotiate a fair contract for eighteen months, they’ve left us no choice but to strike.”
UIC looks more and more like a corporation each year. The IFT notes that the number of administrators has increased by 10%, while tenured faculty positions have decreased by 1% in recent years. In response to this, one of the chants heard from picketers has been, “Chop from the top!”