Illinois' budget woes have placed heavy constrictions on the state's higher education system, putting professors' contracts in jeopardy and portending layoffs.
The situation is nearing the boiling point at Southern Illinois University's Carbondale campus, where yesterday a fourth faculty union voted to authorize a strike at any time if the university does not rejoin the bargaining table. The campus, which enrolls 20,000 full- and part-time students, is located two hours southeast of St. Louis.
WISU, the university's public broadcasting radio station, reports that 83 percent of SIUC's Non-Tenure Track Faculty Association voted yesterday to authorize a teacher walkout, putting the union in line with its three sister organizations, including the SIUC Faculty Association, which cast a similar vote a week ago.
In April, the cash-strapped university imposed a one-year contract on its faculty members that would allow it to lay off tenured faculty members without declaring fiscal emergency. That contract, which was quickly rejected by the faculty union, followed a year of back-and-forth negotiations that had resulted in impasse.