Union to picket at UI

A local union plans to picket on campus next week in the wake of prolonged negotiations with the University of Illinois and in advance of a strike-authorization vote planned for later this month.

Members of the Service Employees International Union Local and its supporters plan to rally outside the UI's physical plant at the corner of Kirby Avenue and Oak Street in Champaign for much of the day on Wednesday.

Frustration has been mounting among members of the union, which has been negotiating with the university since June 2012. The two sides brought in a federal mediator in December. Recently, some union members have been circulating a petition calling for a strike-authorization vote. A formal vote will be held on Jan. 24-25.

"The vote would authorize the bargaining committee to call a strike if that's necessary," said Local 73 field organizer Ricky Baldwin. He said the union will bring information about the strike vote to the bargaining table "in the hopes of reaching an agreement."

If a majority of members vote yes, the bargaining committee will be authorized to give 10 days' notice and call a strike at any time.

The union's next meeting with the UI is scheduled for Jan. 17.

"Hopefully we'll be able to make some progress," Baldwin said.

SEIU Local 73 represents two bargaining units at the UI: building service workers, who perform jobs such as taking out garbage and cleaning floors, and food service workers.

If the strike vote occurs, "the university will make arrangements if that becomes a reality," said campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler.

"The frustration has been building up based on a couple of factors," said Baldwin, who cited the potential for mail carriers to lose five of their holidays, an uptick in members noticing some flooring and moving work being outsourced to outside venders and the possibility of the union moving to the campus wage program.

The university has proposed pegging union raises to the campus wage program, which can vary annually. Campus wage program raises, given in early fall, averaged 2.5 percent in fall 2012, 3 percent in fall 2011, but were zero in the preceding two years.

Baldwin said the campus wage program can vary a lot and one of the most important things for members is to know they will at least get a certain amount instead of "having no idea what you will get."

The union claims the university has continued to hire firms to perform work, such as cleaning floors and moving, for work its members should do. The union filed an unfair labor charge over the flooring-labor issue previously and filed a new one last fall regarding several instances of moving and flooring work being outsourced.

Kaler said the university learned of one instance where flooring work was outsourced and worked with the unit to correct it.

"We have procedures in place to address situations when units do not follow the directive," she said.

In 2011, the campus issued a directive to managers informing them that floor-maintenance requests be handled through Facilities & Services, or F&S, if that work has traditionally done by F&S, Kaler said. She said the university's contract with SEIU allows the campus to hire outside firms occasionally for moving jobs "and we do sometimes."

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numblypeg wrote on January 12, 2013 at 12:01 pm
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The states broke but lets strike and get more from nothing.

Sid Saltfork wrote on January 12, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Are you a member of SEIU local 73?

Bulldogmojo wrote on January 12, 2013 at 1:01 pm

We didin't run this state into the ground and we are not not going to sit by and do nothing while the powers that be run off with our pensions, our healthcare and our kid's educational futures. We are in this for the long haul

Unions matter...  http://sfbayview.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/I-am-a-man-guns-tanks-Memphis-1968.jpg 

Mahometmom wrote on January 12, 2013 at 8:01 pm

What is so wrong with the University hiring the person that does the best job for the least money? The Univeristy has plenty of money to run its operations, if it is given the chance to spend it wisely. Instead it is held hostage by unions. Unions did have their time and place, now they are just acting as thugs, keeping local small business out and increasing costs.

Bulldogmojo wrote on January 12, 2013 at 11:01 pm

The administration low these many years has followed a reverse policy of hiring incompetent leadership at the highest prices. If it were up to the university no hourly person would make much more than minimum wage. How are we going to support your local businesses with tens of thousands of people making unlivable wages? People who own businesses are not job creators their paying customers are.

How are we holding the University hostage? We go to the bargaining table, make professional written agreements acting in good faith and not walk out during contract negotiations long after the contract dates have actually expired and then the University and state of Illinois suddenly want to go so far as to change the constitution to get out from under paying anyones pension, pay and other benefits.

Ahhh...but there are millions to pay the absurd leadership salaries while they double dip in the private sector. I will agree to return my 3% raise if Wise returns her 250,000 to Nike and White, Herman, Hogan and Troyer reimburse the millions it cost the University to recycle their costly scandals and replace them.

The University educates people so we don't have a world full of ditch diggers and taco van owners who wish to be those for life. Insuring our kids have a functioning University which is actually a city unto itself requires experienced help in all areas from edcuation to the trades to maintanance to clerical staff and we will not apologize to the types who have bought the bill of goods that teachers, not wall street con men, wrecked the economy. I can't think of a more important time in history to be in a union.

Sid Saltfork wrote on January 13, 2013 at 2:01 am

Good comment.

pk1187 wrote on January 16, 2013 at 8:01 am

Thank you for summarizing how I feel.

UIUC needs to stop paying administrators so much money. Need to stop paying football coaches $2 million to win 2 games. Need to stop firing coaches before their contracts are up. etc. etc.

The university administration is so corrupt and dumb it sickens me.

sprohl wrote on January 13, 2013 at 10:01 am

U of I B.S.W's are the lowest paid in the State ! so if the state has money to pay other B.S.W's a higher rate why not The  Ones at the UofI