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Latest News - February 2011

February 26, 2011
Union files complaint against UI over negotiations
Source: The News-Gazette
By: Paul Wood

URBANA – A union that represents some of the Urbana campus' lowest-paid workers filed an unfair labor practices complaint this week.

Service Employees International Union Local 73 has been bargaining with the University of Illinois since last June, and the two sides have agreed to have a mediator come in March 16 and 30.

"We won't strike before that, but we have a lot of issues to get through," said senior field organizer Ricky Baldwin. "The mediator will have his work cut out for him to avoid a strike."

Baldwin charged that the UI violated the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act by not bargaining in good faith.

"The most recent thing they did was, after eight months of negotiations, they made totally new proposals, out of the blue, on subjects that never had been discussed before, asking us to make brand new concessions," Baldwin said in an e-mail.

UI spokeswoman Robin Kaler said the UI has not made new proposals, only new responses as the union brought new issues to light.

The local rejected a UI offer last fall, and this month authorized a strike vote if no progress is made.

Baldwin said "the union is trying to move the two sides closer together – for example, bringing in the mediator, which the university resisted for two solid months."

Kaler said the UI "always negotiates in good faith."

"The UI has met six times with each bargaining unit through the fall of 2010," she said, before a tentative 1-year agreement was rejected by the union.

"The union submitted new proposals in late January and the university responded," she said. "Progress is being made."

Baldwin said the university is proposing to use temporary workers to cover work that is now performed by full-time workers who clean the dorms.

Members of the union work in food service and in residence halls. Last week, the UI Student Senate passed a resolution that "urges the university to work towards a fair resolution of contract negotiations with members of SEIU Local 73."

Kaler said the UI negotiates with the union, not the student senate.



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