Morning round-up
9:26 am
Thu November 3, 2011

Morning headlines: Thursday, November 3, 2011

SIUC tenure and tenure-track faculty go on strike

Three of the four Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC) unions in a contract dispute with the administration have reached a tentative agreement, avoiding a strike among non-tenure track faculty, civil service staff and graduate assistants. But one group walked off the job this morning.

Talks toward a new contract broke down last night.

SIUC Faculty Association spokesman Dave Johnson says while he's not sure how long the strike will last, union negotiators are dedicated to fighting for the concerns that remain on the table.

"The board team has now rejected all of our proposals, as they've rejected so many proposals in the past," Johnson said. " They've offered no new proposals of their own, no alterations of our proposals; really nothing at all."

Chancellor Rita Cheng says she's disappointed that talks broke down with the Faculty Association, but very pleased with tentative agreements with the other three groups.

"The contracts that were settled were very fair," Cheng said. "They were compromises, and they reflect, I think, a meeting of the minds and a compromise throughout. I'm very pleased."

Those contracts must still be voted on, and few details are being released. Union leaders say they address concerns that have been an issue during negotiations.

Cheng says classes are going on as scheduled Thursday. In classes where a faculty member is not in class, a substitute will fill-in.

More suspected E. coli cases reported in St. Louis area

The number of E. coli cases in the St. Louis area is now at 26, and health officials are looking at more items taken from a grocery chain's salad bar.

Health officials have confirmed 26 cases of the illness. Tests are still pending on the others. The state so far has received 51 samples for testing.

No deaths or life-threatening illnesses have been reported since the first cases were reported last week in St. Louis city and St. Louis, Jefferson and St. Charles counties in Missouri and St. Clair County, Ill.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the state of Missouri has received 38 samples from five Schnucks Market stores. The samples included broccoli, deviled eggs, hard boiled eggs, pineapple, carrots, radishes, zucchini, red onions, along with salad dressings.

Missouri spent millions responding to natural disasters

Missouri has spent about $15 million so far this year responding to the deadly Joplin tornado and flooding along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.

State budget director Linda Luebbering says the tally primarily reflects costs incurred by the Missouri National Guard and the State Emergency Management Agency. Some of those expenses may be reimbursed later by the federal government. But Missouri's 2011 disaster costs ultimately are expected to be much higher. That's because Missouri has not yet got a bill from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the state's share of cleaning up debris from the Joplin tornado. 

Luebbering says the state also could end up bearing part of the cost of rebuilding Joplin schools, if the total is not fully covered by insurance.