Western Illinois University and the union representing the university's faculty and staff released a joint statement Tuesday night regarding their ongoing contract talks. The two sides said they are close to a reaching a tentative agreement following Monday's mediation session.
The announcement from WIU and University Professionals of Illinois (UPI Local 4100), which has more than 600 members between the Macomb and Quad Cities campuses, comes after 18 months of negotiations, including the assistance of a federal mediator.
Last week, union members voted to authorize a strike, which gives its leadership the authority to call for a strike. According to union leadership, UPI has filed notice of its intent to strike with the state labor board. That initiated a required 10-day waiting period, which means the first day the union could walk out would be Monday, April 30, just a couple weeks before the end of the spring semester.
On Monday, UPI held a well attended rally and the Union is hosting strike picket training this week in Macomb and the Quad Cities.
Associate Professor of Sociology Pat McGinty, said the training is an opportunity for union members to learn what it’s like on the picket line in the event that a strike is called.
"We are trying to educate our membership," McGinty said. "At the same time, we are trying to educate the administration about the issues of the day and what needs to happen so we do have a fair contract.”
The union, though, maintains that it does not want to strike and is actively working to avoid doing so through the mediation process.
The contract negotiating teams for the union and the university will meet again Thursday, according to a university spokesperson. There are no plans to release details of a tentative agreement until the final language has been approved by both sides.