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U of I service workers push for fair deal

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – As students return to the University of Illinois campus this week, they do so amid a labor dispute that could affect them directly.

University services workers are pushing for a new contract to replace the current one which expires on Monday. They and their union have tried to negotiate with the university, but the union leaders are frustrated by what they see as a lack of respect from the university.

“The university didn’t meet us in the middle, and we’ve been talking for too long. It’s time to stand up and fight for fair wages, back wages and safer and more inclusive work environments,” said Katrina Jarrett of UIUC Dining Services, shop steward and bargaining committee member. “We clean the buildings and feed the students. Why are we treated like we don’t matter? »

The union said it forced the university into mediation after the university, they say, refused to budge on pay proposals. So far, the university has offered a 67-cent pay raise next year for food service workers and a 25-cent raise for construction service workers. But workers and their allies are outraged by this, especially given that U of I President Tim Killeen is receiving a $235,000 raise.

“We will stand up and fight for those who deserve better,” said Augustus Wood, former GEO Section co-chair and tenure-track professor. “We will stand up and fight for everyone who makes this campus work.”

The university and the union are due to resume negotiations on Friday. If an agreement is not reached by Monday, the union will send a strike notice to the university. This would translate to more than 800 employees leaving work 15 days or more later.

The last time service workers at the university went on strike was in 2013, prompting the university to declare its first ever public service emergency. Waste bins on campus were not emptied, bathrooms in university buildings were not cleaned, and food was not served in the canteens of university housing, which would happen again.