UI, unions plan contract talks for next week

Published 03/13 2013 06:08PM

Updated 03/18 2013 04:41PM

URBANA -- Two unions at the University of Illinois are wrapping up a 3-day strike. New contract talks are set for next week. Some 700 building and food service workers will be back on the job Thursday.

Union leaders said they still plan to keep picketing until midnight. They said the strike worked. Organizers said garbage piled up during the past three days.

Some students complained about food in the dorms. Union representatives said more than 97% of workers took part in the strike. Leaders on both sides said they're happy to move forward.

"There's no way they can say we didn't have an impact and that we're not essential workers now," said SEIU-73 field organizer Ricky Baldwin. "We know we're essential workers. We've always known that and now we can prove it."

"We always would prefer that our employees be on the job and everybody be rowing the same direction," said university spokesperson Robin Kaler. "But these things happen and unionized employees certainly have a right to strike."

University leaders said lots of people stepped in to help while the union workers were gone. They've been able to take care of the needs of students and staff on campus. But they'll be happy to have everyone back at work Thursday.

Both sides will sit down with a federal mediator Monday to try to work out the contracts. Food service workers will have the week off because of spring break. But the building service workers will still be on the job.

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