SIU grad assistants, civil service workers demand raises - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

SIU grad assistants, civil service workers demand raises

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CARBONDALE -- After years of stagnant pay, SIU graduate students say enough is enough.

"If SIU can spend $55,000 to move our chancellor's lab equipment and then hire his family members in order to show that he is valued, is it really too much to ask that our graduate assistants, people that really make SIU work, be afforded just a little more, just half a month's rent more?" Anna Wilcoxen asked the crowd gathered in front of the Morris Library Thursday.

They're not the only ones seeking more pay.

Civil service employees, who say they're some of the lowest-paid employees on campus, also want raises.  

"We have a number of civil service employees who are working here full-time and still qualify for food stamps," Ami Ruffing, president of the Association of Civil-service Employees said. "And that's kind of shameful." 

A move at the SIU Medical School in Springfield spurred the protest.

The unions claim SIU gave non-union workers a two-percent raise in March, and at least for the grad assistants, that kicks in a clause in their contract guaranteeing the same raise.

"That's why it's just outrageous that they're, essentially they're delaying giving us the raise," graduate assistant Sam Smucker said.

The grad students say they aren't asking for much. They claim the two-percent raise they're asking for amounts to just $250 extra per year.

The civil service workers don't have the same pay clause in their contract. However, that contract expires June 30.

But SIU doesn't plan to pay those raises.

Spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith said the two parties have a fundamental disagreement over the contract's language.

"The university understands the interest in securing raises and hopes to be in a position to provide them in the near future. In fact, the chancellor has indicated that he plans to take a proposal to the Board of Trustees in July, recognizing the role of the collective bargaining units in negotiating any increase for their members," Goldsmith said, "However, there is no contractual requirement to provide increases at this time."

After the unions filed a grievance, they plan to go to arbitration, where a neutral party will decide the matter.

When and if that will happen is up in the air.

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