Questions about the money, including what the administration has, what the unions are looking for, and how a strike might effect the local economy:
A. Why should you have guaranteed jobs?
We’re not seeking guaranteed jobs for anyone: we are seeking a reasonable assurance of employment for those quality employees who desire to make their careers here. Job protection for employees means quality employees can have a reasonable expectation that they will have employment here from semester to semester and year to year. Experience counts. Job security attracts high quality staff and faculty. These are quality issues.
B. How can you seek raises at times like these?
We unapologetically seek fair and competitive salaries that attract and retain quality employees. Our goal is to create a quality university from the top administrator to the hourly employees. The only way to build an excellent university is to recruit and retain excellent professional employees by offering them well-paid jobs with the sort of job security university professional expect.
C. Wouldn’t a strike affect the economy of the community?
A strike would be painful for everyone in Southern Illinois. It would be hardest on our members, and particularly the lower paid among them who live from paycheck to paycheck. But in the long run it may be the only way to assure quality education for our students, quality jobs for SIUC employees, and a strong SIUC for decades to come.
D. Aren’t furlough days a shared sacrifice necessary to prevent layoffs?
The imposed furlough days are unfair for all employees on campus, especially when the economics of the university show they are unnecessary. And the administration has not been willing to offer any promise of job security in return for furlough days, insisting instead on the authority to both cut our pay and cut our jobs.
E . Doesn’t the state budget crisis require deep cuts at SIUC?
As employees of SIUC our future is tied directly to the future of this university, and we are prepared to do all we can to ensure it has a bright future. If that includes financial sacrifices, we are willing to make them—but only if we are partners in deciding that such sacrifices are required, that they are fairly distributed across employees, and that the savings from such sacrifices are spent in pursuit of the central missions of this university: research, creative work, and educating our students. No financial savings can save this university if the savings come at the cost of the dignity, morale, and professional standing of our employees.
F. Isn’t SIUC facing a massive budget shortfall?
SIUC had a record budget surplus last year of some $15.8 million, a surplus that more than compensates for the loss in federal stimulus money this year. And last year’s audit concluded that SIUC was in sound financial condition. SIUC has already made deep and painful cuts to keep itself in strong fiscal shape. The best way to ensure our ability to face future financial challenges is to foster partnership between employees and the administration, so that we can face any future crisis together. Unilaterally imposing furlough days and threatening layoffs does not build this sort of partnership: it weakens SIUC, and will make future fiscal challenges more difficult to face, not easier.