A quick bit of rumor control. I've heard there's a rumor that's going round, a rumor that has even been sourced to me, saying that there's been some "progress" or "movement" at the bargaining table between the FA and the administration. To the best of my knowledge there has been no such progress--certainly the report from the FA bargaining team at the DRC meeting I attended on Thursday night indicated no such thing, and that's the latest news I've heard. Nor have I heard of any progress with any of the other IEA locals.
The pace of meetings has indeed picked up, as the administration team has agreed to meet with the FA team during a number of evenings in the next week (and both sides met on Friday, I believe). But of course more meetings will only solve things if there is genuine flexibility and give & take on both sides.
And if there is any progress in the coming days, it will be due to the strike threat. That's obvious enough. The administration was unwilling to budge last spring, last summer, or in August or September. If they budge in October, it will be thanks to the strike threat. It is clear enough that nothing short of a strike threat will get this administration to move; we've yet to see if a strike threat alone will do the trick. I hope a strike threat does it, and that we don't actually have to go on strike. But only time will tell. And it is very clear indeed that letting up on the pressure would put us right back where we were last spring: with the administration imposing terms as it sees fit.
A strike threat and eventual strike, should it come to that, are means to an end: a sound settlement. The only reason for us to step back from our strike threat, from further planning for a strike, and from a strike itself, would be agreement on a new contract that is in the best interest of SIUC faculty, SIUC students, and SIUC. Reports of "progress", whether they come from the rumor mill or from claims made by the Chancellor, are no reason to let up before we have such an agreement in place.