Credit classes at Rock Valley College in Rockford have been canceled after faculty went on strike Wednesday.
The work stoppage comes after the Rock Valley College Faculty Association and the two-year community college's board of trustees failed to reach a contract agreement.
The Rock Valley College Faculty Association, which maintains that the board's "current proposals would cause a significant number of faculty members to see a reduction in compensation," says the board declared an impasse Tuesday night without responding to the association's latest formal proposal.
"We are extremely disappointed the board has left us no choice but to strike beginning tomorrow," the association's president and economics professor Michael Youngblood said in a statement late Tuesday. "The faculty union's bargaining team was ready to work all night until we reached an agreement."
"We presented our latest proposal and without even responding to it, the board's representatives declared impasse," he added. "This is not bargaining in good faith. Unfortunately, the board has pushed us into this strike. Hopefully, they will start taking negotiations seriously."
The two sides are scheduled to meet again on Friday.
In a statement posted late Tuesday on Rock Valley College's website, the board released details of its "final offer" for a five-year contract that providers over $3.7 million in new funds for faculty compensation.
The board says it will take up its final offer at the September 22 board meeting, unless the two sides can strike an agreement before that date.
The statement from the board added:
The College's proposal is equitable and fiscally sound in a time of serious revenue challenges. The College's proposal is consistent with its overall objectives to realign its resources to make Rock Valley College a catalyst for economic development for the region. The College's recent success in developing a world class aviation maintenance program and its partnerships with OSF Healthcare, St. Anthony College of Nursing, and Northern Illinois University School of Engineering to provide four year college opportunities in Rockford is a testament to this effort. Despite economic challenges, the College has indeed managed to do more with less to the benefit of all.
Regrettably the Faculty union has chosen the path of strike, a path they have seemingly been intent to be on since at least August. The strike necessarily forces the College to postpone credit classes.Despite the union's clamor, we seek labor peace and wish to resolve this contract at the bargaining table. Despite the strike, both sides will still have to sit down together and negotiate the contract. The College remains ready to negotiate in order for classes to commence and to bring these negotiations to a resolution.
UPDATE 1 (09/17/2015, 2:06 p.m.): Unionized Rock Valley College faculty members voted Thursday to reject the board's final offer during a membership meeting.
"It was clear in the meeting that members want the strike to end as soon as possible, but we need the Board to present us with a proposal on healthcare that will not create a decrease in compensation," Rock Valley College Faculty Association President Michael Youngblood said in a statement. "What was also clear from the meeting was that we are united and strong as a faculty. We are dedicated to ensuring a world-class education for our students and we know that we cannot do that if we lose faculty to other colleges. We want to go back to our classrooms immediately, and hope the Board makes that possible with a reasonable proposal tomorrow."