Striking Workers, U. of Ill. to Meet with Mediator
By Jeff Bossert
Building and food service workers at the University of Illinois will be back at the bargaining table next week. The Service Employees International Union has scheduled talks with administrators for Monday and Tuesday.
One the last day of a 3-day strike, about 200 with SEIU Local 73, as well as other unions backing them - rallied out of solidarity on the Urbana campus quad over the noon hour Wednesday.
Those unions with guest speakers included the Graduate Employees Organization and AFSCME 698.
SEIU organizer Ricky Baldwin said the union has gotten complaints about food that’s undercooked, or excessive garbage piling up in campus buildings with extra help and student volunteers taking their place – proving the union’s employees are essential.
"We’ve taken some pictures of overflowing trash cans, and things like that, mainly to just, you know, encourage our members that they’ll have an effect," he said. "We’ve seen the pictures on Facebook that the students have been posting. They’ve called it inedible food.”
U of I spokeswoman Robin Kaler denies those claims, saying she’s eaten in residence halls herself and enjoys the food.
SEIU’s 800 members returned to work Thursday morning. Baldwin said if next week’s talks aren’t successful, they’ll strike again for as long as necessary to get a living wage.