Post Classifieds

Frustration Erupts in Protest

By Ivan Favelevic
On March 10, 2011


Tension at NEIU reached a new boiling point on Feb.24 and 28 as dozens of UPI members  and student supporters rallied in Village Square. The protests were an effect of prolonged union negotiation agreements, which have been under strict debate for almost 3 years. The message of the rallies was clear: unions and students united for a fair settlement to the negotiations. 
Students organized the February 24 rally, and faculty organized the rally on February 28.  Both featured a variety of speakers from various departments. Richard Grossman manned the megaphone, as speakers took turns making their statements on the negotiations.
Anna Antaramian, professor in the Communications Media and Theater department and creative director of the Stage Center Theatre, compared what is happening in NEIU to the events occurring in the Madison, Wisc. Driving all the way from Kenosha in order to work at the school, Antaramian spoke strongly against the workloads being placed on instructors. 
"We need to establish a fair settlement to the negotiations," said Antaramian, "this university is nothing without its instructors."
Various flyers were handed out at the events, highlighting the pay of NEIU instructors compared to other institutions. Union president Terry Schuepfer said that a general manager at Burger King can make more money than an instructor at NEIU. Many tenure track professors spoke about their lack of job security. However, the overarching issue being brought up was the problem with class sizes. Multiple professors reiterated that larger class sizes can only hurt the student body. It overworks the instructors and spreads them out too thin amongst the students. Signs saying "No Mas Hahs" and "Don't Threaten Quality Education!" were being handed out as well and displayed proudly by supportive students.
The February 24 rally, however, took a turn for the worse. As President Hahs was trying to approach the demonstrators, a group of students surrounded her and began chanting cries of "shame." The president was quick to dismiss the hostile crowd, yet the anger only seemed to escalate as the rally progressed. The February 28 rally had a different outcome. Despite it not being held during activity hour, the amount of demonstrators seemed to match that of Thursday's. After the speakers took their turn, dozens of students and faculty marched around the university, echoing chants such as "union busting is disgusting." The amount of noise being made was increased as the march passed the president's office and the administrative building. The march went full circle from Village Square around the administrative offices, through College of Business Management, passed the Eagles Nest and back up through Student Union.
The demonstrations are a clear sign of no more tolerance for the extended bargaining. At the time of writing this story, negotiators should be meeting one last time on Wednesday, March 2 to attempt to create a contract that all parties can agree on. 

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