U of I food, building workers to strike on Monday

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Food and building-service workers at the University of Illinois will walk off the job for three days starting at midnight Monday, after members of both bargaining units rejected the university’s contract offer.

Service Employees International Union Local 73 spokesman Adam Rosen said Sunday that a majority of workers from both bargaining units rejected the university’s contract offer, but he did not disclose the vote totals.

Outstanding issues include wages, provisions regarding retaliation against employees and the privatization of some work, Rosen said. Negotiations began last May, and a federal mediator recently was brought in.

“This is the way to show the university how important the workers are to the university’s daily life,” he said, adding that some other unions have agreed to honor the SEIU picket line.

He predicted the strike would “severely cripple the university” until it ends at midnight Thursday. Workers serve food to students and cater university events, clean classrooms and dormitories, and deliver campus mail.

But university spokeswoman Robin Kaler said there is a contingency plan to continue serving food and doing essential cleaning until the strike ends.

She said the university is “disappointed” by the strike, but “made what it feels is a fair offer within the resources available.” She would not say what the offer included.

The next bargaining session has not yet been scheduled.

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