Western Illinois University has asked a federal mediator to help negotiate a contract with its faculty.
Administrators believe it's the first time the school has had to call in a third party to strike a deal.
Administrators and union members have been at the bargaining table for nearly a year now, and Russ Morgan, the school's contract administrator, says they've reached a standstill.
"So we're doing this from a very positive, moving-forward perspective. We could bring in a fresh set of eyes -- someone could help us consider different proposals."
The union representing WIU faculty refused to sign on to a joint request for a mediator. Representative Jim La Prad says members wanted to continue talking with administrators directly.
"But obviously we are willing to work with a mediator if that's what the administration believes is necessary. They were the ones that believed negotiations were going nowhere."
The sticking point has been a proposed 3 percent salary reduction and other austerity measures that Morgan says would make up for economic constraints caused by the state's two-year long budget impasse.
The union says any reduction to salary will affect morale in the first year the state finally has a budget, after two-years of layoffs and funding cuts.