Most of you will already have heard the news. Here's the official announcement from Randy Hughes, President of the Faculty Association:
The strike authorization vote by Faculty Association members has been completed. Eighty-eight percent (88%) of the voting members of the Faculty Association participated in the balloting. Of those voting, ninety-two percent (92%) voted yes to authorize the Departmental Representative Council (DRC) of the SIUC Faculty Association to initiate a strike.
It is my hope that the results of this vote will stimulate productive negotiations and that the SIUC Administration will address the issues at stake in a spirit of mutual give and take instead of unilateral imposition. Our goal, and the best outcome for our university, will be a collective bargaining agreement that is ratified because it meets the interests of both the faculty and the Board of Trustees.
This is obviously a very strong showing, and evidence of very robust support for the bargaining team and FA leadership from the membership as a whole. As many will no doubt ask, I won't be coy about the absolute numbers. FA membership is currently at 250. The size of the bargaining unit is somewhere between 600-650 (it has been fluctuating, in a downward trend, of late).* One can quarrel about how many members the FA has--though my understanding is that our membership, compared to other universities at which faculty can choose to belong (and pay dues) or not belong, but still be represented, is quite solid. But that's not tonight's news. Tonight's news is that the overwhelming majority of those who have joined the FA support the leadership's position that it is time for the administration to get serious at the bargaining table, and that the issues at stake are grave enough to justify a strike if the administration fails to get serious.
Let's all hope, in keeping with the wishes expressed by Randy in his very moderate and mild message, that the administration does start to engage in genuine negotiation, and that preparation for a strike is as close as we will need to get to a strike.
* Update (11:00 pm). A Southern Illinoisan article on the vote gives the number of the bargaining unit as 694 in July. That's probably too high, but my range may be too low. It is surprisingly hard to get an accurate count, given part-time appointments, switches between administration and A/P, departures, etc.