UI workers vote against contract; to strike Monday

Published 03/10 2013 09:27PM

Updated 03/12 2013 12:07PM

Update: 8:26 pm
URBANA -- At midnight Monday morning, hundreds of University of Illinois workers will go on strike. Two campus unions voted down a contract agreement from the university Sunday afternoon. A university representative said they plan to work around it.

UIUC spokesperson Robin Kaler said they're disappointed the building and food service workers voted down their proposal. But the workers said it wasn't good enough.

After nine months of negotiating, UIUC leaders and two of their unions still couldn't come to an agreement. So now hundreds of workers are putting away their brooms and spatulas.

"Let them see if they can run this university without people to clean the toilets, without people to shovel the snow, without people to clean up the dorms," said SEIU-73 field organizer Ricky Baldwin. "I think in the dorms the toilets don't get flushed if our folks aren't there."

Some shifts end at midnight and workers plan to turn in their keys as they head out the door.

"It's very exciting and very rewarding for us to realize that our membership is as strong as we always though it was and now we're going to stand together," said SEIU-73 vice president Aaron Ammons.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) represents more than 700 workers at the university. Union representatives wouldn't say how many of those voted against the contract proposal. But more than 90% of members voted to authorize a strike notice earlier this year.

Kaler said university leaders are making a plan to move people around campus, to make sure students and staff get the services they need during the next three days. Kaler said they're ready to talk to the unions whenever they want.

"They have my cell phone number," said SEIU-73 president Christine Boardman. "Haven't heard a word from any of them yet."

But leaders on both sides confirm no discussion times have been set up for this week. Union representatives said some of the main issues were wages, discipline and the length of their contract.

Original: 3:38 pm
URBANA - More than 700 UI workers will be on strike Monday morning. The Service Employees International Union 73, which represents building and food service workers, voted against the university's recent contract proposal.

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