UIC Workers Lobby in Springfield, Deliver Strike Petition to UI President Tim Killeen


Dozens of UIC workers and students traveled to Springfield on April 16 as part of a higher education Lobby Day and rallied on the Capitol steps. SEIU Local 73 represents 4,200 civil service workers at UIC, of which nearly 75% are people of color. After the rally, workers confronted President Timothy Killeen and delivered a strike petition calling for a union contract by May 1.

Meeting with Elected Officials

Throughout the day, UIC Workers met with elected officials and advocated for increased higher education funding to raise worker wages and invest in campus services. In the morning, a small group of workers visited representatives’ offices. Members shared their stories about how low wages impact their ability to provide for their families and updated officials on the status of bargaining. The conversations were largely positive, and elected officials gave their support for more higher education funding and the fight for a fair contract.

UIC workers are demanding:

  • Pay increases for all titles in all departments,
  • Equitable pay scales competitive with the market,
  • Pay to honor education, certifications, and longevity,
  • Incentives to cover staffing shortages,
  • Protections against privatization
Rallying for Racial Justice

“Unfortunately, over the years, President Killeen has turned his back on UIC’s primarily Black, Brown, and low-income campus community,” spoke President Dian Palmer to a crowd of riled-up workers. “It’s time to put an end to the U of I System’s racist funding agenda. UIC workers deserve a fair contract with competitive pay that values education and experience. It’s time to close the pay gap for UIC workers by awarding equal pay for equal work. We’re bringing our message to Springfield and engaging our allies in the Illinois General Assembly.”

Nearly 100 workers stood together on the capital steps to rally for a fair contract. Workers and elected officials joined President Palmer and spoke about the urgent need to fully fund UIC and award workers a fair contract.

“As professionals, we’re required to have degrees, licenses, certifications, and continuing education courses just to keep our jobs. Yet one-third of us earn less than $55,000 with a bachelor’s degree. How can we afford to pay our bills? UIC, as an educational institution, must value the education of its workers with degrees,” spoke Latoia Gatewood, UIC Program Services Specialist.

“We are no longer going to be silent and watch them take public dollars and use them for for-profit ventures. UIC’s racist funding agenda stops today. We’re asking others to join us today to demand UIC fully fund, fully staff, respect, and appreciate its workers, patients, and the community. The U of I must invest in UIC and invest in us, the majority Black and brown workers,” said Lavitta Vee Steward, Local 73 Vice President and UIC Administrative Aide.

“The cost of being alive is not something a dollar can buy but is something that can be soothed by the dollar, as many problems largely disappear when paid adequately for your work. That’s something at UIC that we are very familiar with, as the U of I system and President Killen in particular have ignored and underpaid its workers for decades,” said UIC student Jimmy Rogers.

Illinois Rep. Norma Hernandez, Rep. Debbie Martin-Meyers, Rep. Omar Williams, Sen. Willie Preston, and Sen. Robert Peters spoke in solidarity with workers and committed to supporting the fight for a fair contract.

Delivering the Petition

Moments after the rally, the crowd confronted Killeen on the steps of the Illinois State Library and delivered the strike petition signed by the majority of UIC workers. Members spoke about their hardships with low wages and demanded raises. President Killeen thanked them for their efforts and indicated his desire to fight for fair wages. UIC workers, however, will not rest until it’s in writing in the form of a collective bargaining agreement.