Negotiations between Illinois State University and representatives from the union (Service Employees International Union/SEIU Local 73) that represents ISU's approximately 400 graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) began in October 2019. Under normal circumstances, it is not uncommon for negotiations over a new contract to take more than one year to finalize; however, progress was also impacted by the need to transition the University's academic and administrative operations to an online and/or hybrid format to protect the health and safety of the ISU campus community during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
By mutual agreement, negotiations with SEIU first focused solely on resolving the non-economic issues identified by the parties before starting discussion of compensation and other economic topics. SEIU presented all of its 20 negotiation proposals by January 30, 2020, and ISU presented all of its 9 negotiation proposals by February 25, 2020. Through cooperative negotiations, over our first 15 negotiation sessions, ISU and SEIU reached tentative agreements on 17 of the non-economic proposals. On October 7, 2020, ISU agreed to the union's request to table outstanding non-economic issues and begin discussions around various economic issues.
In a letter to the campus community on January 28, President Dietz unequivocally affirmed ISU's respect for the important contributions of our graduate teaching assistants, as well as our commitment to the mediation process and to ongoing good-faith negotiations with SEIU Local 73. ISU has and will continue to work diligently to reach a fair and fiscally responsible contract agreement that addresses concerns raised by the SEIU without disruption to the teaching and learning environment at ISU.