At the University of Illinois-Chicago, 4,000 SEIU Local 73 members are fighting for what they deserve: a contract that reflects justice and equity. The members have been without contract for months, as negotiations between the union and UIC slowed down. At a recent bargaining session, the only movements on negotiations came from state-mandated ones that came into effect at the beginning of the New Year. Meanwhile, SEIU Local 73 members from UIC have worked tirelessly to craft messaging and action to let UIC leaders know that we mean business.
The Member Action Committee has been meeting regularly to discuss and generate ideas to force UIC to seriously consider the members’ needs. Why? We want to negotiate a fair contract that acknowledges the integrity of our work and takes action over member concerns regarding safety, staffing, and support. Without a workplace where the basic needs of members are met, it is impossible for them to securely do their jobs.
Members have held their heads high in lieu of a new contract. They’ve proudly carried signs, buttons, and stickers in the halls of their workplace to showcase the solidarity behind the union’s mission to attain an agreement that highlights their dignity.
On a blustery day in December, dozens of union members braved the cold to take action in holiday style. They gathered in front of the doors where UIC’s Labor Relations department is located and sung their hearts out with labor-themes Christmas Carols (You better come out / You better not hide / You better not lie, we’re telling you why! / Chi-ca-go is a union town!) before hand-delivering a petition reinforcing what members deserve and a call to come back to the negotiating table in good faith.
At the University of Illinois System’s Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday, January 16, over 50 union members showed their strength as they entered the room where the meeting was held to highlight the injustices they face. Holding signs noting the university’s lack of support and integrity, the members stood in defiance.
In addition, Jonna McHugh, Program/Student Advisor at UIC, made direct comments to the board detailing the concerns of SEIU Local 73 members. When it comes to safety, staffing, and support for workers, UIC is not meeting their needs: “You must invest in resources for your employees, which includes taking the collective bargaining process seriously. Bargaining in good faith with UIC workers represented by SEIU Local 73 means bargaining all 4 contracts as one.” Watch her full comments here.
We stand together as a force for change, leaving not one member behind in our fight for integrity, safety, staffing, and support. With shared values, we know that workers are stronger when we join together. We encourage members to wear purple on Wednesdays, take photos and share on social media using the #PurpleWednesday hashtag, and stand with coworkers and fellow campus unions to send a message to the board: we are not backing down – we demand safety, staffing, and support.
With the threat of no agreed upon contract, it’s now more important than ever to showcase the power we have in this fight. United we bargain, divided we beg.