ISU Union Workers Continue 13 Months Without New Contracts | WGLT

ISU Union Workers Continue 13 Months Without New Contracts

Jul 31, 2019

Illinois State University union workers are 13 months in without new contracts. An AFSCME staff representative said it’s time for the university to nix its hiring range practice.

The labor agreements cover dining, grounds, clerical and building service workers.

Instead of offering a fixed base salary for each job, pay is set between a minimum and maximum based on a set of criteria.

Renee Nestler with AFSCME Council 31 told WGLT that under that system, new hires are often paid more than those with seniority, simply because they were hired at a time with a better pay range.

“Once employees get in the hiring range, they often can’t get out,” Nestler said. “The across-the-board increase is the only increase this bargaining unit is currently provided.”

She said the only way employees can make more money and get into a better pay range is by moving between departments. But Nestler said that the time wasted spent training and retraining could be saved if the university moved to a step model, which she said many other universities use, like the University of Illinois. Nestler said U of I pays its unionized workers $3 more than ISU does, and that’s before any wage increases as a result of the mandated $15 state minimum wage.

Trish Gudeman works in ISU’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology. In regards to the minimum wage, she said that’s not the end all solution.

“We don’t want to all end up working the same wages that McDonald’s people are working, because we feel like we should move up incrementally,” Gudeman explained.

She said it’s unfair to think that a longtime university employee should be paid the same as a high school sophomore.

ISU President Larry Dietz said both parties are working on a resolution. University spokesman Eric Jome previously told WGLT that there is a provision so that the terms of the pacts remain in effect until both 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," Jome told WGLT in April. "Both sides want a fair and equitable contract resolution."

AFSCME Council 31 represents over 500 ISU employees. The university and Council 31 representatives will meet next in late August.

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