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College Of DuPage Faculty Union Votes To Authorize Strike

GLEN ELLYN, Ill. (CBS) -- The College of DuPage Faculty Association on Tuesday voted to authorize a strike.

The union held an all-day, campus-wide vote at the Glen Ellyn-based public community college and counted the vote Tuesday evening, according to a news release. This was the first strike vote in nearly 25 years at the College of DuPage, and it gives the faculty association bargaining team the authority to call a strike.

"This vote protects our right to use our collective voice to advocate for our students," CODFA President Shannon Toler said in a news release. "If we choose to go out, it will be the first time in our history that we've gone on strike. We don't want to shut the college down, but we are determined to fight for a COD that thinks strategically and purposefully about student success. We know that when it comes to student success, teaching matters."

The strike vote came after the faculty association and the College of DuPage Board of Trustees entered mediation. The two sides have been negotiating since March, and the most recent faculty union contract expired on Aug. 14, the release said.

The union said the board of trustees made an offer to have adjunct faculty to "fill in" for full-time faculty and posted 143 positions on the college website in anticipation of a strike. The union also said the board cut summer wages by $5,000 for most full-time faculty.

The union also accused the board failing to fix a pay freeze that has been in effect for three years, creating an "unfair subjective promotion system" using teacher evaluations that do not match up to current research, and "trying to add dozens of additional job duties to faculty job descriptions," including "guaranteeing student self-esteem."

In an open letter issued in Monday, College of DuPage President Dr. Brian W. Caputo wrote that the administration does not want a strike and believes one can be averted.

"A strike would serve no one's interest," Caputo wrote. "College officials are as focused as ever on bargaining in good faith and with urgency to reach a new contract."

The letter said the college is seeking to implement additional teacher evaluation guidelines in the new union contract, and is seeking a promotional structure that "fully considers education level and experience."

"To do otherwise would be a disservice to our students and our faculty, both current and future," Caputo wrote.

Caputo further wrote that the college is investing in resources and facilities such as state-of-the-art labs and classrooms with enhanced technology – while being mindful of the fact that the college is taxpayer-supported, and that students bear the brunt of the college's financial pressures, due to decreased state funding.

To go on strike, the union would need to give a 10-day intent to strike notice to the College of DuPage, the regional superintendent, and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. No strike notice had been filed as of Tuesday night, the union said.

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