Vet Techs at University of Illinois Demand Higher Wages
By Sean Powers
Veterinary technicians at the University of Illinois are in contract negotiations for the first time with the U of I over wages.
The AFSCME Council 31 union is trying to negotiate a new deal for roughly 60 vet techs on the Urbana campus, and after four months of contract talks, the union said there has not been much progress.
AFSCME’s Tara McCauley said veterinary technicians make as much as $6.00 an hour less than animal caretakers on campus, but require more training and responsibilities.
“Our problem is that the veterinary technicians do have a higher level of skill and training and they’re held accountable to a different level of care for the animals and our professionals,” McCauley said. “We feel that they deserve to be paid at least at minimum the rate that the caretakers make.”
McColley said veterinary technicians assist with animal surgeries, check X-rays, and administer medicine. She said they have to be certified by the state to do their job. Meanwhile, McColley noted that animal caretakers primarily feed the animals and clean cages, and do not need any special certification.
Kristina Donze has worked as a vet tech at the U of I for about a decade, and she said because of the responsibilities and training that go into the job, higher wages are only fair.
“We got into this profession because of love of animals, and nobody got into it to get paid a ton and ton of money," Donze said. "And we’re not asking for what we feel is a ton of money, just fair. We want to be paid fairly for the job that we’re doing.”
In a statement, the U of I said it believes what it is offering veterinary technicians is fair.
“We believe the rates and benefits we’re offering this group of employees is fair and exceeds the average offered in the local market,” said University Spokeswoman Robin Kaler.