Bargainers arrive at worker contract

By Tammy Sholer

After nearly five months of bargaining sessions and discord, a package was agreed upon Wednesday which could become civil service employees’ new contract.

“We have a package,” said Diane Tilton, president of local 963 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), of which all civil service workers are members. However, she could not comment on the specifics of the package because she wants to allow the membership (local 963) a chance to review it first.

atification of the package must be accomplished first, Tilton said. If ratified, it will go before the Board of Regents for final approval in the October meeting, she said.

“We (AFSCME) are very excited about what we have to offer the membership,” Tilton said.

Eddie Williams, vice president for finance and planning, said he has not been completely informed of the progress of the last negotiating session. He said several proposals were made and are under discussion, but he said he did not know if there was any action or reaction to those proposals.

In addition, AFSCME filed unfair labor practice charges against the university because NIU did not bargain with the union before implementing changes prior to Wednesday’s package.

obert Perkovich, Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) executive director, said he is not familiar with the package agreement. However, if charges are brought against NIU, the agreement could have an effect on the final outcome of the charges, he said.

The charges are still pending until the IELRB receives information from the employer. They then will be able to respond to the charges, Perkovich said.

egulations state that employers have to bargain with the union before any changes can be made if a mandatory subject is at hand. Bargaining must be made to the point of impasse.

At the completion of the investigation Perkovich said he will decide if a complaint should be issued which would bring about a hearing.

Food service and building maintenance workers were not asking for more money, rather they have been fighting over contract language and better working conditions since April before their prior contract expired June 30.

Workers continued to work without a contract because they wanted to retain their positions. During negotiations the union considered the old contract effective so that workers grievances were not ignored.

Large issues which concerned workers included the bidding process and the grievance procedure. The bidding process allows a worker to bid to work at a specific building if an opening exists, and decisions are based on seniority.