Note to readers: This story has been edited to reflect that the contract being negotiated is with NIU's service workers, not clerical staff.
DeKALB – Some of the lowest-paid workers at Northern Illinois University could be the victims of the NIU Labor Relations Department’s demand for a concession in a contract being negotiated with service employees.
American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Council 31 Local 963 members rallied Tuesday afternoon in Altgeld Hall against the university’s demand that building services, housing and dining workers not get a pay hike over the next five years, should the contract be agreed upon.
“These are working-class people who are working with considerably less staff,” union representative Sara Dorner said.
She said whereas about five years ago, 274 employees would have been affected, that staff has been whittled to 140. And now they won’t get raises in half a decade, should the contract be ratified.
“And they still have the same campus to clean and serve,” she said.
NIU spokesman Joe King said the university won’t provide comment on negotiations.
Dorner said negotiations will resume at 9 a.m. Thursday morning, and are expected to last until about 2 p.m.
“We want a contract that’s fair for everybody,” she said.
The union’s president, Timothy Gray, said measures have been taken.
“We have filed grievances and moved those grievances to arbitration,” he said. “We have filed unfair labor practices against NIU with the Labor Board when NIU has broken the law. How much time and taxpayer money will this university be allowed to waste when they realize it is not the workers costing them – it is the administration?”