Negotiations with Local 73 reach tentative agreement

By Sky Opila

Negotiators for the University and representatives from Service Employees International Union Local 73 Chapter 119 reached a tentative agreement Monday night.

The details of the agreement have not been released because the union would like to present them to the membership first, said Vice President of Local 73 Dale Hillier.

“We are currently working on putting everything together to be able to show the membership,” Hillier said, adding that the bargaining committee will likely recommend this tentative agreement.

“We’re happy that we’ve reached a tentative agreement with these employees and we value their contributions to the campus,” University spokeswoman Robin Kaler said in a statement.

Leading up to the meeting on Monday night, the union’s Local 73 Chapter 119, which represents building service and food service workers on the Urbana-Champaign campus, had been in contract negotiations with the University since the summer of 2006. In that time, both parties worked with a federal mediator to try to solve the dispute about contract specifics. Earlier this semester, the union overwhelmingly voted in favor of striking and filed its intent to strike, which could still be enacted at any time to extend over a three-day period.

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    In addition to negotiations at Urbana-Champaign, SEIU Local 73, which also represents clerical, administrative and technical workers at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has been in contract negotiations with its campus’ administration. At UIC, the union’s contract for clerical and administrative workers expired in August 2006 while the technical workers’ contract expired in December 2006. Union members met with UIC negotiators Nov. 14, but the proposal from the administration was not what the union was hoping to see. Negotiations continued the following week, but a representative from the union in Chicago could not be reached for comment Tuesday about further proceedings.

    It is unknown when the tentative agreement will be presented to the Chapter 119’s membership. However, Hillier said there is no real deadline for when a response is needed from the union.

    “It’s up to the membership, whether they ratify the agreement or if they do not ratify the agreement,” Hillier said. “If they don’t ratify it, anything could happen.”