Eastern Illinois faculty hold Teach Out demonstration

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CHARLESTON — The Eastern Illinois University took its contract bargaining frustrations public to the steps of the Doudna Fine Arts Center on Thursday.

There, the EIU chapter of University Professionals of Illinois held a Teach Out demonstration in the middle of the class day that drew a large crowd of faculty and students to the Mellin Steps overlooking the Booth Library quad. During this event, union leaders also expressed an interest in speaking out during the EIU Board of Trustees meeting that is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9, at the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

Betsy Jewell, an academic advisor and student publications advisor who is on the union’s contract negotiation team, was among more than half a dozen speakers at the Teach Out. Jewell said the team started regularly meeting in August 2021 in preparation for contract bargaining with EIU’s administration that started in March. She said the team presented 26 proposals on workload, parental leave, pay and other issues at the outset of eight meeting so far with the administration. 

“While some issues have been agreed on, the meetings have been disappointing at best and insulting at worst,” Jewell said.



Carole Collins Ayanlaja, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, speaks during the Teach Out demonstration on Thursday at the Doudna Fine Arts Center steps on the campus of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.



ROB STROUD, JG-TC


EIU spokesperson Josh Reinhart said on Thursday after the Teach Out demonstration that, as a policy, the university does not comment on active negotiations.

Jewell said the union’s contract negotiation team is trying to ensure that faculty-to-student ratios remain low, that advisor and counselor workloads allow enough time to adequately address student needs, and that faculty workload allows enough time to work one on one with students. Regarding counselors, she said many students have waited weeks or months to see a mental health professional and some have never gotten an appointment.

“I am an employee, but I am also the parent to two current EIU students, and the lack of support we have for students here on campus is outrageous,” Jewell said. “This is all due to critical staffing shortages in these areas. The mental health and well being of our students should not the thing that is sacrificed on the altar of financial savings.”

The faculty union has reported that Eastern’s administration is proposing a 17% increase in workload, but a 1% increase in pay for faculty.

Jewell said the administration has offered an “insulting level” of compensation that will make it nearly impossible to retain and recruit high quality professors.

“To expect a faculty member to work for just above the minimum wage is a punch in the gut to our faculty and students,” Jewell said. “EIU students deserve the highest quality faculty members and advisors, and the current pay structure just does not cut it. The bottom line is the current financial package offered by the administration is shockingly dismissive to the students and their decision to attend EIU.”

Contact Rob Stroud at (217) 238-6861. Follow him on Twitter: @TheRobStroud

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September 8, 2022 at 06:07PM

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