Local 73 employees to file strike intent

By Matt Spartz

At Saturday’s membership meeting, the Service Employees International Union Local 73 Chapter 119 decided to file for a 10-day intent to strike later this week. After 14 months and more than 30 negotiation sessions between the union and the University, there will be another meeting today to attempt some resolutions.

Filing for this intent to strike comes on the heels of a federal mediator’s inability to form compromises between the union and the University. The union, which represents building service workers and food service workers on campus, voted in August to authorize a three-day strike if needed. By law, the union must provide a 10-day notice before actually striking, after which it can strike at any time.

“The basic thing is the University only talks about one issue, and it’s pay,” said Larry DuVall, president of SEIU Chapter 119. “Money is always a big issue. But other issues, seniority, is a big deal.

DuVall said the union has been trying to put health care and parking issues into the negotiations.

The union is comprised of two types of workers with two different contracts. However, the union insists the two contracts be equal.

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    “(The University is) trying to separate the food and service workers from the building service workers, and we’re not going to allow that,” DuVall said.

    The University issued a statement to the union on the negotiations describing its attempts to reach agreements with the union.

    “The University offered (Building Service Workers) a 2.5 percent wage increase with back-pay to July 30, 2006, an additional 2.5 percent wage increase with back-pay to July 29, 2007 and an additional $150.00 to every Building Service Worker, Maid, and Linen Maid,” the statement reads. “Your Union rejected this offer. When the Union was asked on August 23, 2007 if it would accept the same offer for Food Service Workers, your Union refused to answer.”

    The union is asking for a 4 percent raise for all workers retroactively paid to the end of its last contract, July 30, 2006.

    Robin Kaler, University spokeswoman who provided the statement, has said the University does not comment on ongoing contract negotiations.

    DuVall said negotiations were going well until the final day, Oct. 10.

    At that time, the union proposed a scaled parking fees plan for all workers. He said a union worker, with a yearly salary of $20,000 to $30,000, should not pay the same amount for parking as a professor with a salary of $70,000 to $100,000.

    The University agreed to lower parking fees in 2002 for Building Service Workers. However, Food Service Workers were left out of the 2002 deal. The union is asking for Food Service Workers to pay at 2002 rates, and the University has offered to lock in 2007 rates.

    Once the proposal to include all workers was rejected by the University, negotiations for Oct. 11 were cancelled.

    “I believe the mediator is still involved,” DuVall said. “There were too many gaps and he couldn’t bring us together.

    “Hopefully we can come to some agreement before the 10 days comes into effect.”

    Chapter 119 asked for:

    n Four percent wage increase across the board with full retroactive pay, a 37.5 hour work week, differentiated work shifts and longevity pay

    n No drug policy

    n Seniority-based bid system for job placement in facilities and services

    n Parking rates based on .005 percent of gross salary

    n Lock in 2007 health care rates for length of contract

    UIUC management said:

    n Two and a half percent wage increase with retroactive pay only to Building Service Workers, a $150 signing bonus

    n Allow supervisors to request a drug test anytime

    n Management-assigned job placement in facilities and services

    n Rejected parking proposal

    n Rejected health care proposal

    Source: SEIU Local 73