From WILL - News Local/State -

UI Building, Food Service Union Files Intent to Strike

The union representing food and building service workers at the University of Illinois has filed a 14-day intent to strike notice.

Service Employees International Union organizer Ricky Baldwin said he hopes it will encourage U of I administrators to work harder to reach an agreement, as negotiations continue Tuesday and Wednesday. But Baldwin said SEIU Local 73 also has to be prepared in case an agreement cannot be reached, calling this action a last resort.

"There's nothing that changed in managment's position that led us to this decision since the last time we negotiated," he said.  "I think it was moreless looking over in retrospect what had happened the last two times we met to negoiate (Feb. 12 and 15)."

Baldwin said the union has tried pretty hard to reach agreement, and notes some progress, but he said it has not been enough.

The union's last contract expired in July. Since then, the union has filed unfair labor practice charges for employees who Baldwin claims were fired, docked pay, or placed on probation for serving on SEIU's bargaining committee.

Baldwin said SEIU will be willing to meet with the U of I up until the last minute, but he said the union does not have to strike on March 11 if it sees progress has been made. That is the earliest possible date members can go on strike.

The union also contends the U of I has illegally contracted out services employees' work, and taken away some members' Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

Ninety one percent of the union's nearly 800 workers supported a strike authorization vote in late January.