Rockford's Independent Newspaper

NIU Board of Trustees Approves AFSCME Collective Bargaining Agreement

By Chase Cavanaugh

The Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees voted unanimously in favor of a collective bargaining agreement Thursday with AFSCME Local 1890.

The five-year contract provides union members an immediate 3% wage raise and various job-related protections. Barbara Andree is President of the NIU Operating Staff Council. She says the agreement makes up for stagnant clerical worker pay.

“All other Illinois state universities’ clerical units have been unionized for a very long time and, if you look on their website, you’ll see that we are far behind them in wages for that reason,” she said.

However, Admissions Department employee James Lawson used the meeting’s public comment period to urge trustees to postpone their vote. He accused AFSCME of not providing enough time for union members to examine the agreement before voting on it May 1.

“That room was loud, public, people were not allowed to see the contract, discuss it with their families,” he said.

The collective bargaining agreement will last for five years. It includes various job protections and more wage hikes in succeeding years.

The collective bargaining agreement mostly covers clerical workers, but also a number of WNIJ staff members.

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