SEIU protests day before negotiations

A day before contract negotiations between the University and the Service Employees International Union Local 73 are set to resume, service workers rallied in front of the Henry Administration Building to show the University that they are “still serious.”

“We want to send a message that we haven’t given up, we’re still serious, we plan to negotiate in good faith, but management is going to have to offer us something that our members will accept,” SEIU lead negotiator Ricky Baldwin said.

About 30 protesters clad in winter gear and banging buckets circled outside the administration offices in the first rally held since SEIU ended its strike March 13.

“Management is counting on the time elapsed. Members are starting to get their paychecks three days short and are starting to have to pay their bills,” Baldwin said. “That’s why it’s important for them to see the members out here because they’re the ones that are going to vote yes or no.”

Campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler said in an email that the University is willing to work out an agreement.

“The University respects SEIU members’ right to rally,” Kaler said. “We have two negotiation sessions scheduled — one for tomorrow and another for next week. The federal mediator will participate in both. We remain committed to reaching agreement on a new contract.”

Baldwin said the parties are not that far apart. SEIU is seeking a three-year contract, while the University is wanting a four-year contract. Baldwin said the SEIU is willing to accept a four-year proposal but only if the University would guarantee a base rate wage increase for all four years.

The University sent out a letter to members March 21 and sent an email earlier this week. Baldwin said both correspondences attempted to demoralize the members.

“(Union members are) earning about $2,000 on average less than they earned last year and that’s going to be worse next year,” Baldwin said. “That’s why they need a raise.”

The two parties will resume negotiations Wednesday at 8 a.m.

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