CHARLESTON -- Eastern Illinois University administrators and faculty union leaders reached an agreement that includes a progressive increase to salaries.
For a four-year contract, both parties agreed to a 1.5 percent increase across the board for faculty in the local UPI chapter for the next two years, a 1.75 percent increase the third year and a 2 percent increase the fourth year.
There are approximately 393 full-time employees at EIU who will see these increases. According to EIU meeting documents, years three and four each contain wage triggers for an additional 0.25 percent across the board, or a 0.5 percent decrease based on observed enrollments and state appropriations.
Most recently, the university broke a spell of diminishing enrollments with a 7.1 percent increase to student numbers this fall.
The faculty have not seen wage increases in two years, said Jeannie Ludlow, local UPI president. The contract before was 1.5 percent every year for three years.
"We ended up going five years on that contract, so that last two years there was not a salary increase," she said.
Both parties said the negotiating process was amiable.
"It was pretty smooth overall," Ludlow said. "It was very collaborative. There were times we disagreed but when we disagreed sort of from the common position of wanting to do the best thing for EIU."
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The new contract includes adjustments to merit-based increases, changes in sick leave policy, which includes the ability to donate sick leave into a collective bank for faculty, and modifications in workload.
The EIU Board of Trustees OK'd the contract Friday at their regular meeting.
Stair repairs approved
Also at the Friday meeting, the board approved a revised purchase plan totaling $876,084, which was less than the original estimate, for the Lantz Arena concrete stairs to get a makeover after a long time of deterioration.
Eastern Illinois University officials are now in the next stage of the removal and replacement project at the southwest stairs and exterior concourse plaza of Lantz Arena.
Paul McCann, vice president for business affairs, said underneath, concrete pieces were falling from the stairway.
"It is and was a major entrance to Lantz, so it was something we had to take care of," McCann said. "It has been progressively getting worse over a period of time."
The stairs are currently taken down but restructuring is set to take place soon, McCann said.