Members of a state employee union picketed on Northern Illinois University’s DeKalb campus on Monday. That’s after recent negotiations between union members and NIU officials still have not yielded an initial contract.
AFSCME Local 1890 members and allies marched near the student center in support of an initial contract for the bargaining unit, which is comprised of NIU clerical, administrative and paraprofessional employees.
They have been negotiating an initial contract with NIU for more than two years. During that time, the union won a labor practice lawsuit against the university regarding parking pass price increases.
Union officials say university employees recently were reimbursed for that increase.
Virginia Naples is a biology professor and president of the United Faculty Alliance union at NIU. She says she came to the march in solidarity with AFSCME members.
Naples says it’s important for the clerical staff to be respected and for NIU to bargain with them in good faith. Otherwise, she says, that could set the tone for all union and university relations.
“If you disrespect one unit, you disrespect all of them,” Naples said.
Barbara Andree is a union member and office manager in the NIU College of Education. She says the bargaining unit plans to picket in the same common area on campus every Monday at noon until they get a contract.
“And we can’t be ignored anymore,” Andree said. “We can’t be disrespected anymore, and we’re going to be here until that message gets through.”
Union officials say the clerical employees have not seen a wage increase in seven years.
NIU officials say both parties agreed to pursue mediation in order to move negotiations forward. They say they believe they have bargained in good faith and say they will continue to do so.
Five political candidates running for state and local offices attended the protest.