SEIU members voting on contract

SEIU members voting on contract

URBANA — With the threat of a strike looming, members of SEIU Local 73 are voting on a contract this weekend, with the results to be announced Sunday afternoon.

Service Employees International Union Local 73, which represents close to 800 building and food service workers on the Urbana campus, has been negotiating with the university since last summer, and the two sides brought in a federal mediator in December.

As negotiations dragged on, union members overwhelmingly approved a strike authorization at the end of January. That gave the union the power to issue a 14-day strike notice to the university. SEIU delivered that notice to the university, and the soonest the union could strike is Monday. If members approve the contract, no strike will occur. If the agreement is voted down, members could go on strike beginning at 12:01 a.m. Monday.

SEIU Local 73 Vice President Aaron Ammons, a building worker on campus, said the union is voting on the last offer it received from the university. The union and university most recently met on Thursday. On that day, members of the union and other campus unions rallied in front of the Illini Union while the UI Board of Trustees met.

Ammons declined to speak to the details of the contract until voting had ended. But he does expect the vote to be a close one.

"I'm not sure exactly how it's going to shake out," he said. "People are hurting and we're trying to protect our union, members' wages and the language in the contract."

The last item to be negotiated is wages. Members have expressed some concern about being tied to the campus wage program, in which raises can vary annually. But Ammons said union members have other concerns as well, such as the outsourcing of their work.

The Campus Faculty Association has been holding a food drive and fundraiser for SEIU's members this week.