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Heartland Community College

Heartland Community College students take a break between classes last year. 

NORMAL — The Heartland Faculty Association has filed a 10-day Notice of Intent to Strike with the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board and with the college administration.

The notice does not mean a strike will occur, but it is a required step under state law. A strike cannot begin until 10 days after the notice is filed.

Both sides remain hopeful an agreement can be reached. Another session with a federal mediator is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday.

HFA co-president Glen Bush said in a statement that the advisory vote to proceed with a notice of intent to strike took place Friday after a meeting to update members on the status of negotiations.

About 90 full-time faculty are represented by HFA, Local 6038 of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. “The faculty voted overwhelmingly” to file the notice of intent to strike “to send a message to the college administration,” said Jon Nadler, the IFT's field services director for this region.

The Heartland board of trustees will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Community Commons Building on the Raab Road campus. Faculty members are expected to be there with signs, as they have been at the past two monthly meetings.

Although Nadler said, “We've not made much progress in mediation,” Heartland President Rob Widmer said progress has been made.

The full-time faculty has been working without a contract since July 1. Friday will be the second time those involved have met with a federal mediator.

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“We continue to look toward successful mediation,” Widmer said, but if there is a strike, he said it is the college's “intention that classes will continue.”

Jane Camp, a spokeswoman for the union, said Monday, “I'm always hopeful. That's the goal. We're coming into this prepared to solve our differences.”

But Camp said the administration needs to provide a better explanation of where the money goes, questioning how much money was spent to remove dead trees on campus. The union has said the college, with 66 administrators compared to about 90 full-time faculty, has many more administrators than its peer institutions.

Camp said the administration has offered faculty a 1 percent salary hike which “isn't even covering our insurance increase.”

Three top faculty are retiring at the end of this school year, Camp said, and “their salaries alone would cover what we're asking for.”

She has said previously that the union was seeking a 4.75 percent pay increase.

“They talk about students success and student success relies on quality instruction,” Camp said. “They going to have a hard time attracting faculty if they can't make a decent living wage.”

Faculty pay depends on years of experience and what type of degree a person has. The average contract-based salary for fiscal year 2015 for full-time, nine-month faculty is $62,948, according to college officials.

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Follow Lenore Sobota on Twitter: @pg_sobota

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