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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Bargain talks continue, unions feel upset

Devin Oommen
NIU union members and faculty attend the Board of Trustees meeting Thursday at Altgeld Hall. The board listened to public comment from union members about employee wages at NIU. (Devin Oommen | Northern Star)

DeKALB – “For the past three years, I’ve been employed by NIU. I am a full-time employee in position of office manager,”  said Krystyna Kamka, office manager for the Center of Latino and Latin American Studies. “I make $15.26 an hour. For those of you who think you may recognize me is because I am also your friendly Jewel (Osco) front-end clerk.”

During Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting, two unions currently involved in contract bargaining with NIU demonstrated their discontent regarding pay.

Both unions have been working without contract since June 30.

Staff and faculty unions are announcing that they need better pay. The public comments from staff and faculty come on the tail of NIU announcing it needs to make “painful” budget changes after operating on a $30 million budget deficit, according to BOT Chair Eric Wasowicz.

“NIU is actively bargaining with representation from the American Federation of State County Municipal workers 1890, which represents our clerical and administrative professionals. Progress is being made,” Wasowicz said. “On the key economic issues raised by AFSCME members, the last offer that was submitted contained wage increases, salary increments, compensation for years of service and money to address inversion.”

AFSCME, Local 1890, the union for clerical, technical and administrative roles at NIU, currently has 507 members, according to Rave Meyer, Local 1890’s president and office manager for the Department of Environmental Sciences.

The other union in attendance was AFSCME, Local 963, which represents building service workers, food service workers and maintenance workers at NIU’s Lorado Taft Field Campus.

“Last month in August, we held what we called an ‘ice cream social and services’ event. We held it in Altgeld, (Room) 125,” Meyer said in an interview on Wednesday. “We had invited the Illinois Department of Human Services to our event, and a couple of them had shown up – we worked this out in advance – and they brought with them all of the information needed for our members to be able to sign up for … food stamps, or SNAP, housing assistance, all of that.”

The next bargaining session takes place at 2 p.m. Oct. 2 in Altgeld Hall, Room 125.

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