Picketing, rally mark start of strike by GSU faculty and staff


Chris Weber

Members of UPI from Chicago State, Eastern Illinois, and Governors State marched on the GSU Campus April 11.

Chris Weber, Phoenix Staff Writer

Faculty and staff at Governors State University went on strike on Tuesday, April 11. The action comes after negotiations that began in the Summer of 2022 stalled.

Union members picketed near the university’s main entrance and then rallied outside of the university’s administrative offices. They were joined by fellow members of University Professionals of Illinois from Chicago State University and Eastern Illinois University. GSU is the third University in this group to strike.

The presidents of all three university unions spoke at the rally attended by an estimated 200 people.

All the speakers at the hour-long rally stressed their concern for the students, repeatedly making the point that failure to provide funds for salaries and facilities diminishes students’ ability to receive a superior education. They pointed to the administrative offices and called on GSU President Cheryl Green to negotiate adequate salaries.

Mike Hart, President of GSU-UPI spoke about how hard it is to make ends meet on a GSU salary. He also asked how he would have time to work a second job when most of his free time was focused on teaching students. “We did everything we could to avoid a strike today,’ Hart said.

He told the crowd that the GSU administration ended the last bargaining meeting with the knowledge that a strike was the next step. Hart said he was willing to negotiate over Easter weekend, but the administration was not.

Valerie Goss, president of the union at Eastern spoke about the need to speak up when something isn’t right. “We are all here today working together and helping each other,” said Goss. “Don’t give up.”

Carla Johnson, an advisor at GSU spoke about the workload issue in that department. “We work all day long and when we get home, we turn on our computers,” Johnson said. One of the remaining conflicts in the negotiation process includes the number of students an advisor can serve effectively.

Several GSU students spoke up at the rally in favor of their professors’ right to a fair contract.
“For someone attempting to get a degree, it comes down to the people who help them,” said Kelly Pickert, a GSU criminal justice student. “Those people are the professors and staff at GSU. They are the ones that care about us.”

The next negotiating session is scheduled for Wednesday, April 12.

According to the GSU website, students are expected to attend classes as scheduled during the walkout. The university indicated that it would be finding temporary replacements for striking professors.

With classes scheduled to end in the first week of May, it is unclear how the administration plans to finish classes and update grades in time for the ceremony celebrating the next graduating class of 2023.

The administration has not responded to a request for information for details on those issues.