SEIU negotiations show “definite movement”

Members and supporters of Service Employees International Union Local 73 picketed in front of Ikenberry Commons and the Illini Union on Wednesday. 

The participants wanted to show, as the lead negotiator for the SEIU Ricky Baldwin said that they “still have a number of issues that are of a very big concern.”

On Tuesday, Baldwin and other SEIU negotiators, who represent about 800 building and food service workers on campus, met with the University to negotiate the food service contract.

“I think it went well,” Baldwin said. “It’s by no means settled, it’s just that we made some progress.”

A major point of contention in these nine months of contract negotiations has been the campus wage program, a flat rate percentage increase that most University employees receive to compensate for inflation.

Baldwin said that because the raise has been below inflation, and in one case gave no increase at all, SEIU employees are reluctant to accept the campus wage.

He said that during Tuesday’s negotiations, the University hinted at setting a base rate raise for SEIU members. Doing so would give SEIU members something to fall back on if the campus wage was low, as was the case in the last contract.

“They suggested that they might be willing to offer us a minimum (raise) in future years,” Baldwin said. “That’s definite movement. It shows that they do understand what it is that we need. We need to know that we’re at least going to get something.”

An official offer was not made, but Baldwin said he is optimistic about the future of negotiations. He still feels some other issues need to be addressed, such as outsourcing facility and building service work.  

The next negotiating session will take place Friday and will focus on facility and building service workers, Baldwin said.

Robin Kaler, campus spokeswoman, could not be reached for comment.

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