University brings in new staff in response to SEIU strike

University Housing have called in Extra Help workers through Wednesday while members of the Service Employees International Union Local 73 are on strike.

University spokeswoman Robin Kaler said student workers, employees in other positions and volunteers from other units on campus are helping fill the void.

“Today has gone very smoothly, and we’re confident that Tuesday and Wednesday will as well,” Kaler said Monday.

Union members — about 800 of the University’s food and building service workers — picketed around campus Monday outside Ikenberry Dining Hall, Illini Union and other locations. The workers were joined by students on the picket lines.

Adam Rosen, SEIU communications director, called Monday’s pickets successful. Rosen said that student support was overwhelming, offering the examples of students who gave out hot chocolate to members on strike. 

Jack Dempsey, executive director of Facilities & Services, sent a mass email Monday to students advising of possible service reductions.

“The campus community will experience a disruption/delay to regular building services and to campus mail pick up and delivery,” Dempsey wrote.

The email said the locking and unlocking of facilities, restroom and classroom stocking and cleaning, and trash removal in classrooms will continue. Dempsey also said some offices will not receive general custodial services such as trash removal, and restrooms will be cleaned when possible starting with high-usage facilities.

The union’s Facebook page was updated Monday afternoon to include a post in response to University-circulated emails.

“The University is also portraying that they have put forth a fair proposal for both building service and food service members,” the post read. “However, this message fails to include information on how the university has not taken into consideration in several previous years they have failed to keep up wage increases that maintain the cost of living, including a wage freeze in 2011.”

The effects of the strike on the University were not immediately apparent. In the Allen dining hall, students said the lack of staff was only somewhat noticeable.

“With the loss of workers, the dining halls do seem to be understaffed, but besides that it’s not really noticeable,” said Connor Kennedy, freshman in DGS. 

Rosen added that without progress in negotiations, another strike is possible in the future. The union and University have said that they are continuing to negotiate, though dates have not yet been set for future meetings.

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