AFSCME members to picket outside Old Main Tuesday

Corryn Brock, News Editor

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 981, the union representing Eastern’s building service workers, cooks, kitchen laborers, clerical workers and technical workers, is holding an informational picket Tuesday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Old Main.

Anyone who wants to support the union is invited to attend and asked to wear a face covering. 

The picket will be outside.

The building service workers, dining workers and clerical technical employees have been bargaining with Eastern administrators for over eight months for a contract.

Employees are seeking a fair wage increase, to retain control over their schedules and to reject the university’s desire to abolish dining employees’ jobs through subcontracting, according to the union.

Natalie Nagel, staff representative for AFSCME Council #31, said before the union’s last meeting with Eastern’s administration that the union deserves what they are asking for after their nonstop work throughout the pandemic that made it possible for students to return and remain at Eastern.

“They have worked through the whole pandemic and they are the reason that Eastern can be open this Fall and this Spring. They are doing the disinfecting, they spent the summer getting housing units ready for students when they had to isolate. The clericals spent hours and hours and days and days converting classes to online formats and making sure that students were registered correctly,” Nagel said. “It’s been a hard year and they’ve worked really hard to make sure that this school year could happen and I really think they deserve credit. They’re not asking for anything astronomical, they just want to be treated fairly and with respect.”

Members of the union say they just want to be treated fairly.

“We don’t want to be millionaires, we’re janitors, we’re BSWs. We understand that, but we’re also the ones the students get to know, our union not only has the BSWs,” AFSCME Local 981 Vice President Derek Light said. “We have the food service workers, the secretaries, the ones who if you have a problem that’s who you go to… we’re not asking for a lot. Basically we just want to be treated fairly.”

“We’re like the black sheep of the family here, all we’re wanting to do is just fit in and take care of the campus, take care of the student here, take care of the university the way it needs to be taken care of,” Michael Ratliff, a AFSCME Local 981 member, said. “We’re understaffed but we’re doing our best to make sure the place looks like and is representable to the people and the student. All we’re asking is to give us a fair shake.”


Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]