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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

NIU board of trustees faces union backlash

Devin Oommen
Patrick Sheridan, the president of AFSCME Local 963 labor union criticizes the university’s budget cuts for university staff and service workers on Sept. 21 at the Board of Trustees meeting. (Devin Oommen | Northern Star)

DeKALB – NIU administrative staff union members packed the Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday to express dissatisfaction with existing pay structures.

Union members said the university needs to address low wages that lead to difficult decisions for employees, such as choosing between which of their expenses they can afford to pay.

Rebecca Rahe, an admissions officer at NIU, said in order to qualify for a pay increase, she had to accept a new position in the same department. 

“We shouldn’t be the lowest-paid university staff while the administration talks about how much we are valued,” Rahe said. “We shouldn’t have to sit and listen to the administration agree that there are pay structures that need to be fixed all while we’re expected to accept a minimal raise that does nothing to correct the issue.”

Another union member, Patrick Sheridan, president of Local 963, said that budget cuts are leaving NIU with fewer service workers and new employees who are undertrained.

“When employees have to fight with their management to do the bare minimum and train their employees, when we have to fight with our management and remind them not to serve expired or underbaked food, it leaves everybody wondering what NIU’s idea of leadership is,” said Sheridan. “NIU administration has put such a clamp on building services budget that they’ve had to dilute hand soap against the manufacturer’s recommendation.”

The Board of Trustees approved bargaining agreements for the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150 and Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council, Local 790.


The Board approved a request for ReUp Education, a consulting company, to engage stopped-out students. Stopped-out students are students who completed some college coursework but withdrew from the university before completing a degree. ReUp Education will receive 30% of returning stop-out student tuition from the students they help to re-enroll. The amount that the company is paid is limited to $3 million.


Ownership of Chessick Practice Center and Yordon Academic and Athletic Performance Center has been approved to be transferred from the NIU Foundation to NIU. The title will be transferred to NIU at no charge to the university.

“This would allow the university to own, program, operate and manage these facilities in a manner similar to all other buildings on campus,” University President Lisa Freeman said.

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