CHICAGO (WMBD) — Workers ended a 10-day strike at the University of Illinois in Chicago after they negotiated with the administration for COVID-19 protections and pay increases.
In a press release from the UIC Bargaining Committee, officials said those agreements are for multi-year contracts for four bargaining units represented by SEIU Local 73 at the Chicago, Rockford, and Peoria campuses. Those units are made up of building services workers, technicians, clerical positions, and professionals.
According to the press release, the contract, which is provisionary at the moment, gives pay increases to all workers with a $15 minimum wage in Chicago for those on the lowest pay scale. Other benefits include better health and safety protocols for COVID-19, increased staffing, and protections against outsourcing good union jobs.
The tentative agreements reached by SEIU Local 73 and the UIC administration includes:
- Across-the-board pay raises for all workers, including back pay.
- $15 per hour minimum wage for building services workers in Chicago.
- PPE commitment from Gov. Pritzker.
- Safe staffing levels to limit exposure to COVID-19.
- Protections against outsourcing
“This is a victory for all working people in Illinois and shows what’s possible when workers unite and demand that employers respect us, protect us and pay us,” said SEIU Local 73 President Dian Palmer.
“I am so proud of the Black and Brown women who led this strike, who convinced their co-workers striking was worth the risk. They never gave up. They were out there at dawn every day demanding justice for essential workers. UIC called them heroes but their pay and benefits didn’t reflect that, but UIC now understands what it means to be essential.”
“We are leaving the picket lines victorious in so many areas,” said Alicia Uwumarogie, a physical therapist and SEIU Local 73 bargaining committee member.
“We have gained the confidence and strength to take on management. We have demonstrated our collective power through the execution of this strike. Our members will be loud and proud about this win and what we did in these past few weeks. We will continue fighting until justice, fairness, equity, and respect become the standard at UIC.”
On Monday, Sept. 14, almost 4,000 SEIU Local 73 UIC workers launched an unfair labor practices strike. Workers demanded UIC’s administration to “respect us, protect us, and pay us” after over a year’s worth of contract negotiations fell apart.
Workers across UIC campuses provide a wide variety of services to students and patients ranging from building services workers who clean bathrooms to occupational therapists to people who work with children with special needs to hospital support staff.
UIC workers filed twenty complaints with Chicago’s Office of Labor Standards on Thursday, Sept. 17 concerning 156 UIC workers who make less than the city’s minimum wage.
The tentative agreements must be approved by SEIU Local 73 members in a ratification vote, which is expected to take place next week.
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