BSWs outside union

University of Illinois service workers and allied unions demonstrated outside of the Illini Union on Friday, Aug. 19, as many students were still moving in.  Later that day, the bargaining team for union SEIU Local 73 reached a tentative agreement with the university. 

URBANA — The University of Illinois and its building- and food-service workers have reached a tentative agreement on a new two-year contract.

The bargaining team of Service Employees International Union Local 73, which represents more than 800 workers on campus, reached the agreement Friday, three days before the previous contract expired. Union members will vote on the proposed contract this week.

“Some of the gains we see in this potential new contract are unprecedented,” said Dena Gary, a food-service worker and president of the union chapter. “Ultimately, however, it is up to our membership to ratify the contract. If they vote yes, they’ll have a new contract for the next two years. If they vote against ratification, we’ll be ready to hit the picket lines.”

If members vote down the contract, the soonest they could walk out is Sept. 5.

If ratified, the proposed contract would add universal $1.25-per-hour raises for all service workers in the first two years, which represents a 7 to 8 percent increase for most workers, the union said.

Other stipulations:

  • Expanded parking for dining and housing workers.
  • Frozen daytime parking fees for the first year.
  • A higher hourly pay differential for those working “deep nights” (from 26 cents to $1).
  • Building-service workers can wear shorts year-round, unless given three days’ notice for a special event or safety reason. Food-service workers can wear lighter clothing on the job.
  • Workers no longer have to submit mandatory drug tests after on-the-job accidents, unless an incident checklist is failed with two supervisors present.
  • Makeup overtime shifts scheduled within two weeks for building-service workers who’ve been skipped for overtime.

Union spokesman Adrian Rojas said the bargaining team unanimously recommended the proposed deal after Friday’s session.

“The bargaining team feels pretty confident; these gains are massive,” he said. “They were proud of it and excited to send it out to membership.”

Ethan Simmons is a reporter at The News-Gazette covering the University of Illinois. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@ethancsimmons).

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