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ISU starts 'contingency planning' as union files an intent-to-strike notice

Building Service Workers union members at ISu rallied Monday evening as they announced approval of a strike against the university amid a contract negotiation deadlock.
Charlie Schlenker
Building service workers union members rally at Illinois State University amid a contract negotiation deadlock.

The union that represents building service, dining, and grounds workers at Illinois State University has filed an intent to strike notice with the state Labor Relations Board. That's the last step needed before a walkout can legally happen as early as April 18.

In response, ISU said Thursday it's initiated "contingency planning activities to ensure the ability to minimize disruption should a strike occur."

AFSCME Local 1110 has more than 300 members. The union made the announcement after a bargaining session in which union leaders said the university barely moved its position on wages.

“Where we go from here depends on ISU administration, from President (Terri Goss) Kinzy and the board of trustees on down,” said union local president Chuck Carver. “They can pay us fairly and settle a contract that’s good for everyone, or they can force a strike that will hurt students, faculty and staff. It’s up to them."

Union leaders said employees deserve livable wages and respect on the job. They said ISU's proposals lag inflation and barely stay ahead of the minimum wage.

The two sides have engaged a federal mediator to help resolve the issues in play.

In a statement, ISU said the union provided the Notice of Intent to Strike at the beginning of the first scheduled session with the federal mediator on Thursday.

"This is a disappointing development, as the union served this notice before attempting mediation and as the parties had continued to make progress at our last bargaining session prior to mediation," the university said in a statement Thursday.

Another bargaining session is set for Friday. The two sides have held more than 20 negotiation sessions, according to ISU.

"Illinois State remains committed to ongoing good-faith negotiations and hopeful that the parties will be able to reach agreement without a strike," the university said. "The University has advised both the union and the federal mediator that the university is willing to schedule more mediation sessions should they prove necessary. In an abundance of caution, the university has initiated contingency planning activities to ensure the ability to minimize disruption should a strike occur."

WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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