U of I service workers ‘pretty happy’ with contract deal

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — The fight for a better contract has just paid off for U of I construction and food service workers. The union has voted to ratify a new contract with the university. They said it includes the biggest pay rise in 30 years.

The union won several victories, and this wage increase was significant. Over the next two years, service workers will see an increase of $2.50. But that’s not all.

Night shift workers will get a separate pay rise. The new contract also allows them to park in multiple lots instead of just one, which will save them money on meters. Changes have also been made to overtime and workers will now be allowed to wear lighter clothing, including shorts, all year round.

But the union branch president said it was not an easy victory. Dena Gary said the members worked hard to organize and pressure the university during the negotiations. SEIU Local 73 member and service worker Mike Lindley said he has been negotiating the contract since November. He said they were happy with the non-economic deals, but initially asked for a $5 raise.

“Overall, we are quite satisfied. We didn’t get everything we wanted, but I know the university gave more than they wanted, so I think that’s the mark of a pretty fair contract. Neither side is happy with what we got, but both sides came away pretty happy,” Lindley said.

Lindley said the two-year contract was a year shorter than usual. The union said it was already ready to fight for its fellow man.

Lindley said once they return to the bargaining table, they plan to ask for another raise. But he said the deal was a big step in the right direction.

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