UNIVERSITY PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- Educators at Governors State University walked out on Tuesday, becoming the third state university to be on strike.
Union members called for a strike last week after a bargaining session ended with no deal. They're asking for a pay raise and have been at the table for more than a year.
"We've been below the cost of living for a long, long time and then when you have high, high inflation, it gets to be too much and everybody can relate to going to the grocery store or having your rent go up or trying to get out and get a car and looking what the interest rates are now," professor Steve Wagner said. "We are under those same kinds of conditions of living and we just want a fair cost of living adjustment."
Chicago State University faculty go on strike after failed negotiations with union
Faculty and staff members said they are prepared to be on strike for as long as it takes to get a fair contract from school leaders.
The state university's faculty and staff is now out of the classroom and on the picket line, demanding pay raises from school administrators.
"Listen to this crowd and look who is here," said John Miller, president of University Professionals of Illinois - Local 4100. "Why are we out here and not teaching with our students?"
"We are losing too many faculty and staff to out-of-state universities. What's the message when we do not compensate fairly and respectfully the faculty who do the work? It says you students do not deserve the best," Miller added.
Hundreds of faculty members from other state schools like Chicago State University and Eastern Illinois University converged on Governors State Tuesday in a massive and loud show of support.
"John Lewis said, 'When you see something is not right, not fair, not just, you must speak up,'" said Dr. Valerie Goss, Chicago State University.
Chicago Teachers Union President Stacy Davis Gates told the crowd that democracy is at stake.
"When you go to the table, you take your household to the table," Gates said. "When you go to the table, you take your neighborhood to the table. When you go to the table, you take racial justice to the table. When you go to the table, you take healthcare to the table."
Governors State students are now paying it forward to their educators and standing in solidarity with the union.
"The fact that I am constantly seeing teachers not being able to pay for their ends meet, feed their families, or even buy the bare necessities is just heartbreaking," student Kevlin Muhammad-Conner said.
The university president Cheryl Green said the walk-out is disappointing and, "despite the amount of movement we have made, UPI leadership has decided to move forward with taking faculty out on strike. We are disappointed that UPI's leadership continues down this path despite the repeated enhancements we have made to address their bargaining positions."
A spokesperson for Gov. JB Pritzker said in a statement, "Gov. Pritzker encourages productive bargaining sessions between the university administration and faculty. Through these talks, we are confident a fair contract agreement can be reached in a timely manner."
Chicago State University faculty is also waiting on a deal. Faculty walked off the job last week, after nearly a year of bargaining over workload and pay.
The university said it's made many concessions to try reaching a deal with the union.