U of I Building, Service Workers Pass Strike Authorization
By Jim Meadows
Building and food service workers at the University of Illinois Urbana campus have voted to authorize a possible strike.
A news release from the Service Employees International Union says 91 percent of votes cast by members of Local 73 on Thursday and Friday were in favor of the strike authorization.
The union’s bargaining committee will make the final decision on whether to issue a ten-day strike notice.
But in the news release, SEIU field organizer Ricky Baldwin says the strike authorization vote shows that the union membership is “serious” about the need for a fair contract agreement.
“We want to reach a mutually beneficial agreement, we’ve tried to be creative and thoughtful, and we have negotiated in good faith throughout”, says Baldwin in the news release. “The University has responded with ridiculous demands that only make it harder, not easier, to reach agreement.”
One point of contention has been a demand from the U of I administration that workers that deliver mail on campus not be paid for Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays. The administration argues the reduction would put the university’s half-dozen or so mail carriers in line with U-S Postal Service workers. But the union argues that postal workers actually have more holidays that campus mail carriers.
SEIU Local 73 represents about 750 building and food service workers at the University of Illinois Urbana campus. Their last contract with the university expired in June of 2012. Contract talks have been going on for months. In the past month, a federal mediator has joined the negotiations.