AFSCME members, supporters to protest Friday during BOT meeting

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, plans to protest during the Board of Trustees meeting Friday. The protest will be from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Previously, the union has held two protests regarding the current contract dispute, one a gathering to show unity for the contract the union is seeking and the other a picket outside of Old Main. 

Members of the unions say they are seeking a fair contract. To them, that means a fair wage increase, to retain control over their schedules and to reject the university’s desire to abolish dining employees’ jobs through subcontracting.

Natalie Nagel, staff representative for AFSCME Council #31, said before the union’s last meeting with Eastern’s administration that the union’s work throughout the pandemic is a big reason why she believes they deserve the contract they are currently seeking.

“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 previously. “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.”

Contract negotiations have been on-going since June.

The union has gained support through their previous protests.

Jeannie Ludlow, president of Eastern’s chapter of the University Professionals of Illinois, has shown support at both of the previous protests.

“I get a lot of kudos for being good at my job but I could not be good at my job if all of these people were not good at their jobs. They need and deserve to be respected as much as I do and they need a fair wage as much as I do.”

Ludlow said the work AFSCME members do is essential to the running of the university.

“Our students are kept safe and fed and able to learn by the work of the people standing here today and EIU is such an important part of this community and it would fall into the ground if these folks were not here,” Ludlow said. “This community needs the work that these folks bring to us and we should all be supporting them for exactly that reason.”


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