Local 963 union give petitions to Peters

By Kyla Gardner

Local 963 union members presented several signed petitions to NIU President John Peters Tuesday afternoon.

The petitions, signed by NIU students, alumni and family members during NIU Homecoming on Oct. 15 asked Peters for fair wages for union workers.

About 20 members of AFSCME Local 963 union marched from the Holmes Student Center to Peters’ office in Altgeld Hall.

They carried posters asking for wage increases and chanted for a resolution to their contract negotiations.

NIU and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 963, which represents about 300 building and food service workers locally and at the Lorado Taft Field Campus in Oregon, have been in contract negotiations since their collective bargaining agreement expired in June.

Peters met briefly with the union members. He looked at one of the petitions, thanked the union and said the contract negotiations are a collective bargaining process.

“We encourage the parties to focus their creativity and efforts on the negotiation process because ultimately that is the only means by which the contract can be settled,” said Steve Cunningham, associate vice president of Administration and Human Resource Services.

Darlene Seilheimer, Local 963 President, said the purpose of the demonstration was to get higher university administrators involved to put pressure on the NIU negotiation representatives.

“As they continue to drag their feet, we’re going to continue turning up the volume,” Seilheimer said.

She said NIU is not respecting the negotiating process.

Cunningham said he is convinced NIU is negotiating in good faith.

Seilheimer will address the Board of Trustees Thursday morning about the union’s concerns.