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Strike looms for UIC workers

A unirally with UIC professionals this past March 2012.  Courtesy Adam Rosen. Chicago Sun-Times

A union rally with UIC professionals this past March in 2012. Courtesy of Adam Rosen. Chicago Sun-Times

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Updated: June 8, 2012 8:13AM

A strike may be on the horizon for roughly 500 union employees who work for the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The workers, who represent a diverse group of service employees, including nurses, social workers, speech pathologists and medical technicians, will vote Monday and Tuesday on whether or not the union can launch a work stoppage.

The group waited for its first union contract since the bargaining unit was certified in November of 2010. Negotiations began 14 months ago but appear to be going nowhere, according to Adam Rosen, communications director for Chicago-based Service Employees International Union Local 73. “They keep saying that they need two more weeks, and we’ve run out of patience,” he said.

After the union sent in its most recent proposal, Rosen said four bargaining sessions have passed without a counter offer from UIC and the union also brought in a federal mediator for three of those meetings.

Wages appear to be the main issue holding up talks. Maybel Mason, a registered nurse who works for UIC’s Division of Specialized Care for Children and serves on the negotiating team for the professionals, said they have not had a wage increase in six years. Local 73 is encouraging members to vote “yes” on the strike ballot this week.

UIC officials said Sunday “we are committed to negotiating a contract that is fair to our employees and fiscally responsible.”

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