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SPews: April 15, 2011

Building and services workers picket before final negotiations,” Daily Illini, April 14

More than 60 University building and service workers continued picketing outside of Florida Avenue Residence Hall Thursday morning before negotiations took place with the University and a federal mediator. For the past nine months the service workers have been negotiating with the University for a better wage contract.

Thursday figures to be the last negotiation between the two sides before the workers and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 73’s imposed deadline of Sunday at midnight when the union of more than 800 workers plan to go on strike.


Olympian Drive project takes center stage,” News-Gazette, April 11

The city council this week could vote on a resolution that, if approved, would outline funding for the ongoing engineering design of Olympian Drive into Urbana and authorize officials to proceed with land acquisition for what has been a controversial project.

. . .

Officials estimate that the design and land acquisition for a segment of Olympian Drive will cost about $16.5 million. All of that money is expected to come from state and federal sources rather than local tax dollars.

UI asks for hold on Tribune FOIA ruling,” News-Gazette, April 13

The University of Illinois asked for a stay Tuesday on a federal court ruling that it contends would threaten the privacy of student records.

The UI also said a March 9 order by Judge Joan B. Gottschall could result in the loss of millions of dollars in federal funds the UI receives every year.

UI attorneys filed a motion in U.S. District Court requesting a stay of the order, which requires the UI provide student records sought by the Chicago Tribune and The News-Gazette in Illinois Freedom of Information Act requests.

The motion seeks a stay of Gottschall’s order pending the outcome of a review by a three-judge appellate panel.

Health Alliance expands protest; Humana joins in,” News-Gazette, April 13

Humana has joined Health Alliance Medical Plans in filing protests with the state of Illinois on plans to award new insurance contracts for state employees and retirees.

Insurance vendors have until noon today to file protests, according to the state’s Chief Procurement Officer Matt Brown.

. . .

The state has proposed awarding two separate HMO contracts to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois and two open-access plan contracts to HealthLink and PersonalCare a move Health Alliance contends will force its state employee and retiree members to switch to more expensive coverage to keep access to their current doctors.

University looking for new ways to fix pensions,” Daily Illini, April 11

The University is addressing concerns from faculty and staff at all three campuses about the state of their future pension benefits.

The Institute of Government and Public Affairs, or IGPA, held a panel discussion on the state’s pension system Monday afternoon at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center.

. . .

Illinois’ public pensions are the most underfunded in the United States, according to a recent Moody’s Report. These pensions are largely underfunded when legislatures borrow money from the pension system instead of increasing taxes or cutting spending.

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