On Thursday, January 18, UIC workers were fired up during a virtual rally honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and uplifting the current fight for a fair contract at the university.
“More than 60 years after the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in Washington D.C., we’re still fighting for racial and economic justice at UIC. UIC is making the conscious choice to pay their majority-white top administrators well while the majority-Black and Brown Civil Service workers receive scraps. It’s time to hold UIC accountable for failing to uphold its commitment to the people of Chicago,” said SEIU Local 73 President Dian Palmer.
Hundreds of UIC workers gathered on Zoom to hear from elected officials, members, and community allies about the university’s need to invest in their majority-Black and Brown workforce. The university currently has nearly 1,000 vacant positions, which impacts student, patient, and worker success.
“Understaffing and low pay make schools, hospitals, and our campuses dangerous. UIC workers were called essential during the pandemic, yet they are fighting for dignity in their work. I want UIC to stop making excuses and to begin addressing the real issues at the bargaining table,” said Cook County Commissioner Tara Stamps.
“I’m working two jobs. I’m a Civil Service employee and I work seven days a week. I’m not lazy or frivolous with my money, it’s just that the ends don’t meet. My Mom was a Civil Service employee; growing up, that’s all I wanted. When I was offered a Civil Service position, I jumped at the opportunity, only to be disappointed 20 years later. UIC needs to address pay inequity and realize they’re not a great university without great workers and appreciating what we bring to the table,” said Local 73 Vice President Lavitta “Vee” Steward
“A significant portion of Black and Brown workers toil in labor where resources and support are yanked away in order to destabilize your university while corporations sit and wait to privatize. Dr. King understood, at the end of his life, that the action of the bosses and these corporations are much more insidious than being anti-union: they’re anti-human,” said Gus Wood, Assistant Professor at the School of Labor & Employment Relations at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana.
Workers also learned action steps and other opportunities to win racial and economic justice through a fair contract.
Watch the Virtual Rally below.