CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – The fight for a better contract just paid off for U of I building and dining service workers. The union voted to ratify a new contract with the university. They said it includes the largest pay increase in 30 years.

The union saw several wins, and that pay raise was a big one. Over the next two years, service workers will see a raise of $2.50. But that’s not all.

Night workers will get a separate pay raise. The new contract also allows them to park in several lots instead of one, which will save them money on meters. There are also changes to overtime, and workers will now be allowed to wear lighter clothing – including shorts year-round.

But the union chapter president said it was not an easy win. Dena Gary said members worked hard to organize and put pressure on the university while bargaining. SEIU Local 73 member and service worker Mike Lindley said they’ve been negotiating this contract since November. He said they’re happy with the non-economic agreements, but they originally pushed for a $5 raise.

“Overall, we’re pretty satisfied. We didn’t get everything we wanted, but I know that the university gave more than they wanted to, so I think that’s the mark of a pretty fair contract. Neither side is thrilled about what we got, but both sides walked away kind-of happy,” Lindley said.

Lindley said the two-year contract is a year shorter than usual. The union said they’re already prepared to fight for their next one.

Lindley said when they’re back at the bargaining table, they plan to push for another raise. But he said this agreement was a big step in the right direction.