At a rally on Thursday, March 7, a food drive was announced for SEIU workers preparing to strike at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Billed as a “Day of Service for Service Workers!” it was initiated by the CFA and supported by a coalition of campus and community allies.
CFA member Monica Bielski (below) spoke about the food drive at the rally.
In a recent email, Chancellor Phyllis Wise announced U of I’s participation in the National Day of Service as an opportunity to show “our commitment to public engagement.” Those campus workers who have been forced to strike for a fair contract need their own day of service.
We will be accepting non-perishable food donations at the Campus YMCA (1001 S. Wright St.). The “Day of Service” will take place on the first day of the strike with a food giveaway for striking workers and their families.
SEIU has negotiated in good faith with the campus administration for more than nine months, sought mediation, and put off any decision on a strike. As all of these efforts have failed to produce a fair agreement, SEIU has now filed an intent to strike at any time after March 10, 2013.
We urge the campus administration to settle on a fair agreement with the union―not only because a strike will be extremely disruptive to our campus, but also because these workers, among the most poorly paid on campus, deserve fair wages and decent treatment. In the event of a strike, we urge the administration not to bring in non-union strikebreakers, as this will only heighten tensions on campus.
A strike will cause great hardship and uncertainty for 800 service workers and their families, many of whom are already on the brink of poverty. Many of these people are among the “working poor.” A recent report by the United Way shows that Champaign County, home to the University of Illinois, is the third poorest county in the state, with a growing number of working poor.
This pending conflict is yet another example of the deteriorating labor relations on our campus. We call on the campus administration to begin reversing this trend by settling on a fair contract with SEIU.
Campus Faculty Association, Graduate Employees’ Organization, Jobs With Justice, AFSCME, International Socialist Organization, Planners Network, Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice, United Students Against Sweatshops, and M.E.Ch.A.