WIU union holds 'Informational Picketing' in Chandler Park
Western Illinois University faculty and staff spend part of Thursday evening outside protesting. The University and a union representing most of its employees have been locked in contract talks for more than a year.
Union members want no more pay cuts and new contracts in place.
"The current on-the-record proposal is unacceptable," union member Molly Homer said.
That's because union members say they've taken several decreases in pay since 2010.
Homer has worked as an academic advisor at WIU since 2003. She wants more money. When critics tell her to find a new job, she says it's not that simple.
"It would be difficult for me to switch over to another job and leave that pension behind," Homer explained.
But the university says the money just isn't available.
"We definitely want to have a fair contract, Interim Provost Dr. Kathleen Neumann explained. "We value our employees. We want to make sure the university remains viable. We want to make sure we are cognizant of keeping strong programs and we have to remain affordable for our students."
Contract talks began in December of 2016. Then, a federal mediator became involved last September.
WIU's current proposal includes what it calls "triggers" for union members to renegotiate if more money becomes available. But union negotiator Dana Lindemann says that proposal is not realistic.
"The university has to be competitive," Lindemann explained. "It has to attract great faculty and great students and it can't do that if it's paying salaries so far below what other comparable universities are paying."
"I like Macomb, I'd like to stay here. If I find another job, I'll leave Macomb," Homer said.