Teachers from Rock Valley College are on strike after contract negotiations ended without an agreement Tuesday night.
About 40 to 50 teachers are picketing the entrance to the college, holding signs that say statements such as "Transforming Rockford by educating our community" and "Qualified teachers = quality education."
Strike organizers say they have faculty members stationed at all of the campus entrances, including at the downtown campus. They plan to continue the demonstration until 6 p.m.
The Rock Valley College Board of Trustees issued a statement late Tuesday night saying talks did not end in a contract agreement with its faculty union.
"Regrettably the faculty union has chosen the path of strike, a path they have seemingly been intent to be on since at least August," read the statement. "The strike necessarily forces the college to postpone credit classes."
The board released the terms of what it called its best and final offer saying it provided more than $3.7 million new dollars to the faculty in compensation and benefits.
"The college's proposal is equitable and fiscally sound in a time of serious revenue challenges," read the statement. "The College's proposal is consistent with its overall objectives to realign its resources to make Rock Valley College a catalyst for economic development for the region. The College's recent success in developing a world class aviation maintenance program and its partnerships with OSF Healthcare, St. Anthony College of Nursing, and Northern Illinois University School of Engineering to provide four year college opportunities in Rockford is a testament to this effort. Despite economic challenges, the College has indeed managed to do more with less to the benefit of all."
The board advised the faculty union that it will move forward with its offer at its regular meeting scheduled for September 22 unless a compromise is reached before then.
The Rock Valley College Faculty Association released a statement regarding the contract negotiations.
A spokesman said during the eighth hour of negotiations, the trustees were the ones who declared an impasse without responding to the union's latest formal proposal, and that professors will begin picketing all three entrances of the college starting Wednesday morning.
"The Board declared impasse on the eve of the strike date announced by the RVCFA, forcing Rock Valley professors onto the picket lines Wednesday morning. This was the fifth negotiating session since the RVCFA voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike," read the union's statement."
A spokesman pointed out that none of the college's trustees attended a single bargaining session and that during a candid moment during talks, the Board's attorney stated that he did not even have the authority to reach an agreement Tuesday night.
"We are extremely disappointed the Board has left us no choice but to strike beginning tomorrow," said RVCFA President and economics professor Michael Youngblood. "The faculty union's bargaining team was ready to work all night until we reached an agreement. This is not bargaining in good faith. Unfortunately, the Board has pushed us into this strike. Hopefully, they will start taking negotiations seriously. We meet with them again on Friday and our side will be ready to meet all night until a deal can be reached."
The union contends the board's current proposal would cause a significant number of faculty members to see a reduction in compensation.
Both sides are set to meet again his Friday.