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ISU teaching assistants picket over contract negotiations

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NORMAL (WEEK) -- A few dozen students, many of them ISU graduate teaching assistants, gathered at the corner of College Avenue and School Street on Friday afternoon.

They were there to explain why they need a contract with Illinois State University.

"We are in positions where paying rent is about where we are at and beyond that, it's a struggle. Getting food, getting medication, being able to afford gas for transportation if you need that, these are afterthoughts," said teaching assistant Trevor Rickerd.

Rickerd teaches at the School of Biological Sciences. Negotiations and talks with ISU administrators started in late 2019 and continue today. Rickerd said he remains optimistic, but says he and the union representing the university's 400 TAs are not satisfied. So far, they say ISU has only offered the current statewide minimum wage.

"We would like them to take that minimum pay number and raise that because what they are asking for right now is unacceptable," added Rickerd.

When asked for their take on the situation, the university released a statement.

Illinois State University respects the rights of all students, employees, and members of the public to voice their opinions and to participate in events related to issues and causes that are important to them. This includes the lawful informational picketing held today by SEIU Local 73, the union that represents Illinois State University’s approximately 400 graduate teaching assistants. 

Representatives from ISU and SEIU Local 73 have met 22 times, including a first session under the guidance of an independent mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, which was held on Thursday, January 28. Additional negotiations are scheduled with the independent mediator for February 17.   

ISU has and will continue to work diligently to reach a fair and fiscally responsible contract agreement that addresses the concerns raised by the SEIU without disruption to the teaching and learning environment. 

For more information and a timeline of negotiations, visit https://seiunegotiations.illinoisstate.edu/

Eric Jome, ISU Media Relations

Andy Weber

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