On the Picket Line

Chicago university faculty strike for six days, win student support

By Dan Fein
February 6, 2023

CHICAGO — Nearly 900 faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago struck Jan. 17, demanding pay raises to keep up with inflation, job security and expanded mental health support for students. They are members of UIC United Faculty, an affiliate of the Illinois Teachers Union, and were working without a contract since August.

The union is requesting that students get access to free evaluations for learning disabilities, a benefit that students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign already receive, and free psychological and neuropsychological testing. Students have been picketing and joining union rallies.

“Our teacher said, ‘Class dismissed — join the picket line,’” freshman Catherine Nida told the Militant. So she and her classmates enthusiastically joined the pickets outside the student center.  “The student support has been overwhelming,” said Justin Vlasits, a philosophy professor.

“We need diagnostic testing for learning disabilities,” Latin professor Krishni Burns said. “I was diagnosed with dyslexia while in college and the help I received was invaluable.”

A tentative agreement was reached Jan. 22 and classes resumed the next day.