UI, union to meet again Tuesday

UI, union to meet again Tuesday

URBANA — University of Illinois officials and members of a campus labor union are scheduled to meet again at 9 a.m. Tuesday after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on Monday.

Representatives from the University of Illinois and Service Employees International Union Local 73 negotiated for six hours on Monday.

"We have not reached agreement, but we did reiterate our most recent offer," said university spokeswoman Robin Kaler.

According to Kaler, the university has offered a 50-cent-per-hour wage increase during the first year of the proposed contact, an additional 30-cent-per-hour raise during the second year and another 25-cent-per-hour increase during the third year.

"We feel our offer is fair, and the union told us at the end of the day that they will come back with an counter offer at 9 a.m." she said.

Aaron Ammons, a UI building-service worker and vice president of SEIU Local 73, said he didn't think any progress was made during Monday's talks.

"Today's negotiations were not very fruitful at all," Ammons said. "It was basically the same offer.

"We didn't even meet face to face. We had to communicate through a federal mediator who talked to us in one room and then moved to another room to talk to them."

Kaler said the proposed wages compare favorably with wages paid to people in similar occupations in the Champaign-Urbana community, based on information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Salary.com.

"If you look at the wages and benefits offered to our employees versus other people in similar positions throughout the community, they compare favorably, and we hope the union members will consider it," she said.

For example, Kaler said building-service workers with more than 24 months of service currently get $17.09 an hour at the UI, compared with median wages throughout the community of $11.32 an hour reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and median wages of $10 an hour reported by Salary.com.

"They aren't negotiating with the private sector," Ammons responded.

But Ammons said he hoped the two sides could reach an agreement today.

"We are more optimistic about what will come out of Tuesday's talks," Ammons said. "We are ready to get a fair contract. If they offer us something fair, we'll take it to the members and see if they ratify it."

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