Strike Averted On U Of I Campus, As Food & Building Service Workers Vote To Approve New Contract

August 20, 2019
 
dining hall

The dining hall at Pennsylvania Residence Hall on the University of Illinois Urbana campus.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Food and building service workers on the University of Illinois Urbana campus have voted to ratify new contracts, avoiding a strike that would’ve begun Thursday, on freshman move-in day. 

The union representing 700 U of I employees said in a statement the vote represents a win for workers.

"We made noise. We threatened to strike and we were finally heard," said Dena Gay, head cook at UIUC and SEIU Local 73 Chapter 119 President.

The union voted to authorize a strike last month, around the same time a federal mediator was brought in to help mediate.

Both sides reached tentative agreements after the final bargaining session on August 9. 

Union representatives say the new 3-year contracts come with several positive changes, including a minimum 39-cent raise each year, a delay in parking fees until the new year, bonuses this year and in the third contract year, among other changes.

Additionally, building service workers will have more time to apply for positions that become vacant, according to union representatives.

Both sides agreed to launch a committee to study the problems food service workers face when they’re temporarily laid off 4 times a year, a period during which they can struggle financially, since they are ineligible for unemployment benefits.

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Story source: WILL