ISU dining workers union raise concerns at trustees meeting; Hancock club renamed for Aaron Leetch
Members of the union representing Illinois State University buildings, grounds, and dining workers brought their concerns about contract negotiations and working conditions directly to the Board of Trustees on Friday.
AFSCME Local 1110 members, who saw their last contract expire in summer 2021, spoke during public comment. They focused on the lack of wage increases, job position vacancies, and the need for current employees to perform more tasks than are normally required in a shift due to the lack of workers.
Union staff representative Renee Nestler pointed to working conditions and broader impacts in ISU dining centers.
“The two dining centers on campus have been using paper cups and plates for months now ... because you can’t find workers to do the job for the pay you’re offering,” Nestler said.
Members also raised concerns about university funds being spent on other things. Nestler cited the recent $1 million contract payout of the fired basketball coach at ISU.
“That $1 million would get each one of our 340 bargaining unit employees nearly $3,000 apiece,” Nestler said.
In response, a university spokesperson said the negotiations with Local 1110 are ongoing.
“University staff will continue to meet with union representatives to reach a new contract that is fair and equitable for all parties,” ISU spokesperson Eric Jome said.
ISU last year finished up contentious negotiations with the new Graduate Workers Union on its first contract. The SEIU Local 73 officially ratified that contract in October.
Renaming Stadium Club
Meanwhile, ISU trustees approved the renaming of the Hancock Stadium Club on the third floor of the venue.
The name will be the “Aaron Leetch Stadium Club” in remembrance of Aaron Leetch, who died in a plane crash in April 2015. Along with Leetch in the plane were ISU associate head basketball coach Torrey Ward, Jason Jones, Andy Butler, Terry Stralow, Scott Bittner and Tom Hileman.
Leetch was the deputy director of athletics – a main fundraiser who helped shape the vision for Hancock Stadium’s renovation.
“Building relationships with donors, student athletes and campus partners, Aaron was widely regarded for his passion for Illinois State athletics,” ISU President Terri Goss Kinzy said. “Aaron’s impact was immeasurable.”
The renaming was made possible through donations from Tom and Kay Cross and Dave and Jane Kruger, who are supporting Athletics’ new Indoor Practice Facility.