SEIU authorizes a strike

SEIU authorizes a strike

CHAMPAIGN — After eight months of bargaining and no agreement to show for it, members of a local union are one step closer to a strike.

The Service Employees International Union Local 73, which represents close to 800 building and food service workers at the University of Illinois, has approved a strike authorization, a move that gives a union committee power to call a strike.

"Folks are eager to make it clear to management that we're serious," said Aaron Ammons, a building service worker at the UI.

With a vote approving a strike authorization, the union's bargaining committee now has the authority to issue a 10-day strike notice to the university, "and then anytime after that we could go on strike if we so choose," Ammons said.

Approval of a strike authorization does not mean a strike is imminent. An agreement between the UI and union still could happen. SEIU last authorized a strike in 2011 after negotiations dragged on for months, but an agreement was eventually reached. Late last year, the Graduate Employees' Organization also approved a strike but ended up coming to an agreement with the university not long after the strike vote.

Ninety-one percent of SEIU members approved the measure, said SEIU Local 73 field organizer Ricky Baldwin. He declined to say how many people voted, but members were lining up to vote on Thursday and Friday, he said.

"It was excellent turnout," Baldwin said.

SEIU's next bargaining session with the university is scheduled for Feb. 12.

"We continue to negotiate to resolve the issues," said university spokeswoman Robin Kaler on Friday evening. "If we work together, we are confident we can reach an agreement."

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.

"We're certainly open to a decent proposal on wages," Ammons said.

Wages continue to be a main issue for the union, which is seeking, among other proposals, an increase in the shift differential for those working night shift from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., Ammons said. The current differential is 20 cents per hour, and the union is seeking a higher rate. Employees who work the 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. shift and 4 a.m. to 12 p.m. do not currently receive a shift differential, and the union wants those workers to receive it, he said.

Another sticking point, Baldwin and Ammons said, is the university's proposal to peg its members' 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.

Union members are opposed to the uncertainty that can come with being tied to the program, Baldwin said.


Comments for this post are read only.

Bulldogmojo wrote on January 25, 2013 at 11:01 pm

Phyllis Wise better start bringing her own toilet paper to work and practice emptying trash, mopping, vacuuming and cooking meals for all the residence halls.

numblypeg wrote on January 26, 2013 at 10:01 am
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The state is broke and can't even pay it's bills but go ahead and strike.  Let me see where does this extra money come from oh right bend over Illinois tax payer.


Mike K wrote on January 26, 2013 at 10:01 am

Agreed!  There is no money, so I say let them go on strike and then fire them for unauthorized absence.  There are plenty of others out here that would like thier jobs.  Baldwin is never happy, everytime I hear his name in the news I want to puke.


It is time Illinois joins the rest of our midwestern neighbors and becomes a right to work state.

clayeater65 wrote on January 26, 2013 at 11:01 am

Mr Numblypeg, you seem to be under the misconception that all or most of UI's money comes from the State / taxpayers.  It doesn't.  State appropriations are below 13% of the overall operating budget.  Most of it is tuition, donations, grants, etc.  UI just found over $5 million this year for raises for just 25 administrators already earning top dollar.  You'd think they could scrounge a few bucks for the staff while they're at it!


Lostinspace wrote on January 26, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Hey, they have a big new scoreboard to pay for!

Bulldogmojo wrote on January 26, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Yeah you tell em' those dang unions wrecked the economy with their barely livable wages while Illinois government seems to have misplaced close to $100,000,000,000.00 in pension money going back to 1996 when the first 2 billion dollar projected shortfall was first reported.

You are well within your rights to ask that those employees who ALSO pay the same tax rates get fired and replaced by minimum wage workers with no health insurance, of course then they will all be on unemployment and getting foodstamps. Soooo yeah problem solved there.

BTW how are local businesses going to survive when thousands of people suddenly have no money to spend on them?

Maybe they should just bulldoze the university and turn it into a corn field with migrant workers so we can have a state full of uneducated detasslers.

Once again just to clarify to the fox news crowd teachers and unions didn't wreck the economy investment banks running a credit default swap scam did

bluegrass wrote on January 27, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Wow.  I'm sure we all enjoy your racist comments and Fox News jabs.  Very compelling arguments, indeed.

In other news....  I don't believe that the $97 billion and change that is owed to the pension fund was "misplaced."  To say it was "misplaced" is to infer that it was either literally a mistake, or that it was figuratively stolen.  The reality is that pension payments were promised, but the funding payments were knowingly and willfully not made into the system by the legislature so they could fulfill other empty promises.  

I'm not sure where you come up with the year 1996, because all three retirement systems were sitting between 50 and 60% funding levels in 1994 and were not much better in 96.  After republican passed legislation in the mid 90's that required stepped up payments into the system, SERS and SURS made it to between 80 and 90%, and TRS close to 70%.  Enter Madigan recontrol of legislature, and the corrupt and failed Ryan administration flowing into the Blago debacle, and we're back to the same predicament.

BTW, I'm not saying they shouldn't strike.  Strike away, it's none of my business.  I am saying, however, that continued union support for the party that continues to underfund their pension systems removes credibility from their arguments.

Bulldogmojo wrote on January 27, 2013 at 11:01 pm

Do you know what sarcasm and metaphor is? Of course it wasn't misplaced like someone's missing car keys. 1996 is when SURS started having closed door sessions when they realized that the unions wanted public answers as to what the hell happened to the money. (Limo rides country club memberships for SURS leadership etc.) It's no coincidence that the University suddenly had a self managed plan to offer that same year which I gladly jumped into. Some people had been in SURS too long to sacrifice the matched contribution and were trapped.

Who said anything about race?? I said migrant workers who are usually poor people and families who travel around the country seeking farm work and you will never see them benefiting from a secret college admissions list, will you? You assigned racial inference to that term not me. I didn't say undocumented workers from other countries.

Yes for the record when I say FOX NEWS I mean it is not actual journalism. It is ulta right wing corporate sponsored shill fear mongering. That is why Bill O'Reilly runs the script down the right side of the screen as he is reading it so the gullible rubes watching it will be more easily lulled into a sense of complacency about challenging the absurd nationalistic drunken patriotism he is hawking. Apparently that's all it takes.

Have we in the unions been betrayed by our party of record and historical support? You bet we have. So I guess we will have to fight for ourselves from here on out and if the swine politicians in both parties get their wings clipped and their funding dropped in the process, so be it.

The administration needs to realize the unions could shut this University off like a light switch. The academics certainly don't have the nerve to stand up to this nonsense beyond a letter writing campaign funneled through their impotent academic senate.

bluegrass wrote on January 28, 2013 at 10:01 am

I have no idea what this so called 'sarcasm,' or a 'metaphor' is.....  I'll look them up though and report back.

Incidently, if I may make a suggestion to you about picking a fight with 'swine' policiticans of both parties.  And please, correct me if I'm wrong about this, but wouldn't it be a mistake to pick a fight with politicians of BOTH parties, considering the state of Illinois is governed by one party rule?  

Consider for a moment, that you are on a playground getting bullied by the biggest, baddest kid on the block.  He's tackling you, taking your lunch money, pulling down your sweatpants in gym, passing notes to your girlfriend, book tagging you in the hallway, waiting for you to get off the bus so he can kick your patoot every day.  Then there's another guy standing around watching, and every now again he runs up to you and says, "Hey, you know you really shouldn't let that guy kick you around like that.  Wake up!" and smacks you in the face for good measure.  Does it really do you any good to pick a fight with the second guy?  Shouldn't you at least start by refusing to givie your lunch money to the biggest bully?  I guess it's easier to just blame the Fox News windmills.  

Lastly, I think perhaps you've misused the word "betrayed."  Betrayed has the connotation of a devious act that is found out in surprising fashion.  If a wife has an affair in 1996, and continues that affair for 20 years, and the husband only finds out 20 years later, one could say he's been betrayed.  However, if the husband finds out about his wife cheating in 2000, then allows it to go on and, in fact, encourages her by purchasing her an apartment and a car to carry on her lifestyle, the husband cannot claim betrayal.  There are other, more appropriate words for that.   

yates wrote on January 26, 2013 at 10:01 am

I believe the state was just downgraded... again. Perfect timing.

clayeater65 wrote on January 26, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Everyone should read this document.  It's just another example.  Administrators have increased in number by almost 50% in recent years, while faculty and staff decreased.  At the same time the charts show funding dropping for education and other vital institutions.  This State cannot go on "eating its own young," burning up vital physical and human infrastructure to subsidize questionable investment.  CME traders need to pay their fair share of taxes while average folks need theirs cut - but the average folks also need their jobs and benefits protected from corporate raiders like Hostess and the Chicago Commercial Club. (Oops! Do the UI Board of Trustees hang out there?  What a coincidence!)  Rather than criticizing people who are willing to fight back, you need to be joining them!

MSJ66 wrote on January 26, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Hey Mike K. (Kessel) as an advisor at Edward Jones maybe its not such a good idea to talk about right to work states. Try going to those states where the average wages are lower and see how much $ is available for those people to invest with financial advisors. Of course my opinion, based solely on your comment, is that you are one of those who advises clients to investments that pay you a nice commisiion but may not be in their best finacial interest given their circumstances. As a union member (although not SEIU) employed at the UI I educated myself on investing so that I didn't have to use people like you to manage my investment portfolio, because based on your comment you come across as selfish and untrustworthy and I do not want a person like that overseeing my money. Any union members who agree with me and not Mike K. I urge you to avoid patronizing any individual or business that is in favor of right to work legislation. I respect your right to have an opinion on right to work and any contract negotiations but I have the same right to speak out against it and encourage people to use their money with places who have like minded philosophies.


Sid Saltfork wrote on January 26, 2013 at 3:01 pm

MSJ66;  Good comment.  It makes sense.  Businesses in Springfield now have signs in their windows supporting union members.  Middle class wages benefits auto sales, restaurants, real estate sales, clothing sales, etc....  It would be great if businesses declared which they support; either wages for the working poor, or wages leading to becoming the middle class.

asparagus wrote on January 26, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Ya know, all this union talk is great in theory.  I'm all for people uniting and leveraging their collective voice for fairness.  That is freedom in action.  However, I rarely see big unions actually delivering this value to their members.  I see a lot of collusion with politicians and a lot of professional unionizers getting rich and powerful.  I also don't understand why your right to be in a union has to trump my freedom to say no.  If unions are so great then they should be able to convince all of their members to want to join voluntarily and to do that they would need to deliver on their promises.  The current state of pensions in IL has their fingerprints all over it along with their political cronies.  Stop pretending that being in a union is morally righteous.  They have have largely become self-perpetuating institutions whose values are no longer aligned with their rhetoric.  I find small unions to be far more pure.  I find govt unions to be the most corrupt.



rsp wrote on January 27, 2013 at 1:01 am

You're right. It's the union's fault that the state didn't pay it's bills for decades. I'm going to start using that for all my bills, "it's the union's fault not mine", and see how that works out for me. Probably not as good as it has for our elected officials.

Bulldogmojo wrote on January 27, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Asparagus, Apparently you really aren't for people uniting.

I have been in a union at this university for almost 20 years and it is a necessity to defend ourselves. We didn't mismanage the state's money, we didn't rob the pension fund, we didn't participate in the admissions scandal, we aren't allowed to violate ethics and then keep a job in another capacity. We don't get paid $285,000 to write a term paper about the Marshall Plan. We don't get paid sabaticals in exotic locales around the world. We don't send anonymous emails in attempts to manipulate University policy and directives and most importantly we don't do material damage to the reputation of this University which costs us in shrinking donorship dollars.

I've seen the pay for higher ranking officals in my council and it really isn't enough in my opinion for the amount of sleaze they have to crawl through to get us a cost of living increase only to see it taken away by state tax increases.

You can say no all you like but we are not going to stop fighting for livable wages, a pension that we pay for that will be there when we retire so we don't have to work until we literally die in our cubicles, and for some reasonable access to health care. Put your money where your mouth is and if the Union goes on strike organize an anti-union protest with signs right next to one of the strike lines...or is it just safer for you to criticize from the cheap seats from your keyboard?

Sid Saltfork wrote on January 27, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Asparagus would not counter demonstrate even if it were at a union retirees picnic.  He propagandizes.  The Lords of Ultra Capitalism depend on the minions of Asparagus types to promote their propaganda.  He would keel over after a hard day's work, and a drink of cold water.