News Local/State

SEIU Workers at U of I to Hold 3-Day Strike


Almost 800 food and building-service workers at the University of Illinois will walk off the job for three days beginning at 12 a.m. Monday.

Picket lines were expected to start early in the morning, as the majority of the nearly 800 members of Service Employees International Union Local 73 voted to walk off the job over the weekend. 

Spokesman Adam Rosen said no new talks with the U of I have been scheduled since Thursday’s all-day session with a federal mediator.  Union members will strike until midnight Thursday.

Vote totals from the weekend weren’t disclosed, but Rosen said the majority of both units voted walking off the job.

He said the strike will severely cripple the university for 72 hours.

“There will be no food service available," he said.  "There will be no building cleaned.  Dorms will not be cleaned.  Toilets will not be cleaned.  There will be no deliveries, no pickups.  Not that there will be any garbage to pick up – we’re not at work.  But if there is any garbage, it will not be picked up, they will just keep driving by.”

U of I spokeswoman Robin Kaler says administrators remain ready to continue negotiating.  She also says there’s a contingency plan in place to the handle some of the jobs of striking workers. 

And Kaler said the strike vote doesn’t mean union members have to honor it.

“It’s important to remember that just because the union has called a strike, does not mean that union members have to participate," she said.  "And union members that want to come to work certainly will be welcome, and will be paid for their work.”

Rosen said other unions and students have pledged not to cross the picket line.

SEIU says progress was made in some areas, but the latest wage proposal won’t cover cost of living increases.  The union also said talks broke down over retaliatory discipline and the contracting out of services.

The previous contract between SEIU and the U of I expired in July.