The Aftermath of the ECC Strike College, Faculty Think Strike Battle Scars Can Be Overcome
Tabor, Terri, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Terri Tabor Daily Herald Staff Writer
Although Elgin Community College shook hands on a new contract Monday night, it may take more than a firm clasp to repair the damage from the college's first strike.
There's no doubt hard feelings will loom, union and college officials acknowledge, and it still is unknown whether the ECC Faculty Association will endorse the college's upcoming referendum.
But both sides and even one negotiation expert believe the damage is not beyond repair.
"I think we are big enough - both sides - to come back from this with no scars," said Judy Jobe, vice president for student services and instruction.
And Gary Christenson, a business and journalism professor and spokesman for the union, agrees, even though the faculty wonders why the strike was necessary when the board came back Monday and gave it what it wanted, he said.
"I think there is going to be some residual resentment to the board. We can get through it," Christenson said.
Classes resumed Tuesday for the first time since the Feb. 6 strike. Both sides on Monday night reached an agreement on salaries, medical insurance and faculty workloads - the three issues that had driven a wedge between the college and union. On Tuesday, officials declined to release details of the contract - including how much it will cost the taxpayers - until after it is ratified by the teachers, which could come next week.
Robert Bruno, an associate professor of labor and industrial relations at the University of Illinois at Chicago, says the rate of recovery from a strike depends on several factors, including the length of the strike and how both sides conducted themselves throughout the ordeal.
Things did get ugly at times between the union and the college over the course of the negotiations and the strike, but that doesn't mean the two sides are doomed, Bruno said.
"Some trash talking is going to go on. That's to be expected," he said. "They may have said things privately in negotiations that were far worse than what was said in public."
What the two sides do have going for them is the strike ended fairly quickly and the college did not attempt to hold classes with replacement teachers, Bruno said. …