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Workers and students band together to pressure UIC

On Friday, August 03, 2001 a group of 75 people gathered outside of the Chicago office of University of Illinois President Stukel to protest the inaction by the university during the Service Employees International Union members ongoing labor negotiations. Other groups joined in solidarity with SEIU local 73 to bring attention to the universities backpedaling on its own mission statement.
epped up to the microphone and related how the problems that they have experienced can be related to the problems of other groups. Resounding in each of the speeches was the importance of workers, students and the community working together.

“UIC is out of control and we are not willing to take it anymore,” commented one speaker.

As it approached 4 o’clock, Isobaker announced what was up next. A small group of representatives would enter the building and demand to see President Stukel’s representatives. Stukel was not on the campus at the time, which is not uncommon since he does most of his business downstate. The representative would be presented with a symbolic gift of bags of “money,” which represents the wealth that Stukel and developers have reaped and plundered on the backs of others.

At 3:50, the delegation of five people entered the building and was greeted at the door by university directors. Isobaker told of the groups intentions of delivering the bags of money to the president’s office. After a few short moments two administrators and security escorted the group to the elevator. One with a cigar in his mouth looked like a character out of a seventies cop drama.

The group squeezed into the elevator and was lifted to the fourth floor then whisked to the entrance of the president’s office. At the door, Mark Rosati, Director in the Office of Public Affairs greeted the group. The man with the cigar walked through the door and talked to the representatives in the office, who appeared to be expecting the visit. The group of five was allowed to enter the office but only about 8 feet in. The group could be met at the door but not allowed to feel to comfortable.

President Stukel’s representative, Sue Sindelar, shook hands with the delegation and waited with nervous calm in anticipation of the gifts that were to be bestowed upon her. Next to her stood the UIC chief of police.

Isobaker spoke for the group and told Sindelar how the news of Stukel’s raise hit the union members hard. “Many of our workers don’t make $19,000 a year,” commented Isobaker to Sindelar as she waited to see where things were going. “We feel there was a need to make a statement to the University.”

He also went on to state that the group also wished to speak on the behalf of the students in relation to the tuition increases. He bought the point home with the observation that many of the worker's kids couldn’t afford to attend UIC.

Then Isobaker presented the bag of money to Sindelar adding that it represented both the money that the university has gotten from the state and developers plus the wealth that the university earns from the staff’s experience.

Sindelar then was presented with another gift, a bag of golden eggs. The eggs represented the promise of public education and the affordable health care. Isobaker reminded her of the fable of the man with the goose that lies the golden eggs. Wanting more gold, the man killed the goose when it would not lay enough eggs for his greedy taste. The man was then left without any more golden eggs. In one of the more bloody versions the man is, in the end, killed in a grim fashion because the lord takes him for a charlatan.

“Don’t kill the hope of education,” ended Isobaker.

Sindelar said she would pass the message on to the president and with that the grouped moved back to the elevator to rejoin the group outside, minus the escort.




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