Bargaining fails; staff plan march


James Krause

Operational staff members are planning to march on campus Monday after months of negotiations between their union and the university have failed to produce a bargaining agreement.

The event is set to take place outside of Altgeld Hall at noon. Employees represented by the union, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 Local 1890, community members and more are invited by the group to join.

“We’re calling on NIU to come to the bargaining table in good faith,” said Sara Dorner, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 representative.

Dorner signed a letter written Nov. 10 to Jesse Perez, NIU labor relations officer, accusing NIU of attempting to “bully and intimidate employees.” The letter was written in response to the passing of a 3 percent wage increase for qualifying employees by the Board of Trustees Oct. 19.

“The university’s offer is an absolute insult to the employees who have been attempting to negotiate with you for almost two years now,” Dorner said in the letter. “At this time, the union cannot sign off on any agreement forfeiting our right to negotiate retroactive wage increases for previous fiscal years.”

Representatives from the union and the university began negotiations Feb. 25, 2016, according to the letter. The two sides, have not come to an agreement despite nearly two years having passed since their first meeting.

Dorner said in the letter the union believed Perez showed a “lack of respect” and engaged in “unprofessional behavior” during bargaining meetings.

The release also provided information about the university’s recent negotiations in relation to the 3 percent raise, as the school bargains with 19 different unions.

“There are different pathways to addressing pay issues,” according to the press release. “We are using these differing pathways to reach agreements on pay issues for employees across all of our workforce.”

Clarification: In a Thursday issue, the Northern Star reported the university and members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 Local 1890 had entered into a retroactive agreement for a 3 percent salary increase to Nov. 16. However, such an agreement had not been reached. Rather, it had been tentatively agreed upon, according to a Nov. 14 NIU press release.