Over 800 service workers at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign, backed by their union SEIU Local 73, are just several days away from the end of their contract on August 22, 2022. On August 18 they gathered at the Illini Union during move-in day alongside students, sister unions and allies to hand out literature and urge the university to give these workers a fair contract.
SEIU Local 73 forced the university into mediation after UIUC refused to budge on meager wage proposals for workers. The workers, who were deemed essential and worked in-person while university leaders worked from home, believe the school’s proposals show a lack of respect.
“Every single dollar they spent on this building they try to take out of our pocket,” says Mike Lindley, Building Service Worker. “They want to pile on us more and more work, but offer us chump change in return.”
So far, the university has offered a 67-cent wage increase in year one for dining service workers, and 25-cents for those in building service. Workers and allies believe that is an outrage, particularly in light of UI President Timothy Killeen receiving a raise that lifted his base salary from $600,000 to $835,000, in addition to hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses.
“We’re going to stand up and fight for those who deserve better,” said Augustus Wood, former GEO chapter co-president and tenure track professor. “We’re going to stand up and fight for all who make this campus run.”
UIUC and SEIU Local 73 are set to bargain on August 19. With the contract expiring on Monday, August 22, if a deal is not reached, the union will deliver a strike notice to the university resulting in a potential strike of 800+ workers 15 or more days later.