Building and Dining service workers at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign, members of the union SEIU Local 73, overwhelmingly voted to ratify their new contracts. The union, which represents over 800 workers at UIUC, saw a massive voting turnout of members, resulting in a clear-cut passing of the agreements. Members believe the ratification cements one of the most monumental contracts in the history of these two bargaining units.
“There was nothing easy about winning these contracts. Members worked day-and-night to organize, stand up and fight for it. The bargaining committee and I are proud of the work that members did. They put the pressure on UIUC and helped ensure the conversations at the bargaining table became more productive with time,” says Union Chapter President and Dining Service Worker Dena Gary.
The agreement reflects critical wins for service workers, including the largest wage increases they’ve seen in years. The increases total $2.50 throughout the two-year agreement. In addition, the contracts includes wage increases for night workers, lighter work clothing, overtime and parking changes.
But service workers stress that the new contracts are comparatively short to previous agreements, noting that the fight will continue in the lead-up to its expiration in August 2024. The workers promise to continue organizing their colleagues until then.
“The contract is just two years. That’s a blink of an eye in the labor world. We know we won this battle, but the next one looms closely. It’s up to us to keep the energy and pressure up, and we believe we can,” said Alvin Allen, Bargaining Committee member and Dining Service Worker. “Our members are ready for the next contract fight to begin.”