UPDATE: Northern Illinois University employees approve contract proposal

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Updated May 2, 2018, 6:40 p.m.

UPDATE: DEKALB, Ill. (WIFR) - Northern Illinois University employees of AFSCME local 1890 approved a contract proposal that was nearly three years in the making.

In the contract, union members receive a three percent pay raise for the next three years. They'll have the option of negotiating pay increases in the final two years of the contract.

The NIU Board of Trustees is expected to vote on the deal May 10. If passed, the five-year contract will impact about 600 clerical workers.

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Posted March 19, 2018, 5:33 p.m.

DEKALB, Ill. (WIFR) - Dozens of Northern Illinois University faculty took to the picket line early Monday afternoon in protest over what they say are poverty-level wages and low benefits.

Employees say they have been without a working contract for more than two years and have made several concessions. Meanwhile, they say the university has failed to present a valid full-scale wage proposal.

Employees say they have made several personal sacrifices when it comes to their own well-being to make ends meet.

"I and many other people in the bargaining unit are still paying on student loans for degrees that we got right here at NIU and they are not even paying us enough to make the payments on those loans," said library specialist Christian Lash.

"We have a responsibility to create vibrant communities and this only happens when we are bold enough to imagine better futures for ourselves and for our kids and when we are bold enough to come together and fight for their rights," said candidate for 67th district state representative Angela Fellars.

NIU released a statement that says, "In our most recent communications last week, both parties have agreed to pursue mediation in order to move negotiations forward. NIU has bargained in good faith throughout this process and will continue to do so."