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ISU Union Workers Rally For Fair Contracts, Higher Wages

Illinois State University union employees rallied Wednesday to garner support amidst contract negotiations.

The contracts expired last June and negotiations have been ongoing since the fall.

“What do we want? Fair contracts. When do we want it? Now,” unionized workers repeated while holding signs at the intersection of College Avenue and School Street in Normal.

Trish Gudeman works office support in the university’s sociology and anthropology department. She said contract discussions have hit a standstill, and the local union groups have not met with university officials in several months.

“We’re all in the same position, so we’re just out here to gather some support and let the community know that we need some help and we need to get things moving along so that we can get a fair contract with ISU again,” Gudeman said.

ISU spokesman Eric Jome said there is a provision in both agreements so that the terms of the pacts remain in effect until the sides agree on new contracts.

"There are a lot of moving parts in these contracts and the agreements take time and a lot of back and forth to reach agreement. Both sides want a fair and equitable contract resolution," Jome said.

“Two percent, isn’t that funny? We do the work. They get the money,” workers shouted.

Gudeman is the membership chair for local American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union local 3236. She said the standard 2% wage increase is not enough.

“I am a mother of five kids, single income, and I’m on food stamps. I don’t make enough here,” Gudeman said. “We don’t really have fair wages. There’s a lot of us that are below the $15 minimum wage, so we need to have that addressed.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation into law earlier this year that raises the minimum wage to $15 gradually by 2025. Gudeman said the university needs to consider the needs of its workers sooner but that she doesn't feel the university is seriously evaluating the increase.

Jome said the university and the bargaining units have had good relationships in the past and that the university is confident a satisfactory agreement will be met.

AFSCME locals 1110 and 3226 represent more than 500 ISU employees.

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