Worth the wait: SIUE faculty union gets first contract

It took more than two and a half years for the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) Faculty Association to win its first comprehensive union contract, but the effort was worth the wait, say union leaders.

“With this historic, first comprehensive union contract in place, the SIUE Faculty Association and SIUE administration start a new chapter of cooperation, with both parties beginning to implement new, mutually agreed-upon policies,” said union president Kim Archer, a professor of music. “During the next year, the college, schools and their respective departments will be updating operating papers and ways of doing business to align with the contract.”

The young union—it was certified in December 2016 to represent 400-plus tenured and tenure-line faculty—battled a hostile administration to first reach an interim agreement in December 2017 that included salary raises and a grievance procedure with binding arbitration.

Over the following year and a half, union members demonstrated publicly, testified at board meetings and state legislative hearings, garnered the support of local lawmakers, and coordinated a media campaign, making sure their struggle for equity and professional respect stayed in the public’s eye. With hard bargaining and skillful mediation, eventually the union won a four-year contract, retroactive to July 2018.

“Coming together on a first contract can present many challenges,” said Kevin Dorsey, SIU System interim president. “I want to congratulate the administration and the faculty association at SIUE for finding common ground as they have worked to strengthen the university, and provide the best opportunities for our faculty and ultimately our students.”

It includes:

  • Total faculty salary increases of $4.77 million. (This includes $3.22 million in across-the-board raises, plus $1.2 million in equity raises, and $350,000 toward fixing the issue of salary compression.)
  • A permanent $50,000 floor for newly hired faculty.
  • Salary minimums by rank—$50,000, $60,000 and $70,000—in the contract’s first year.
  • Full compensation on overload coursework and contact hours.