Almost 30 union maintenance workers for Fairfield University picketed outside of the school's main gate Saturday demanding better raises.

Local 30 chapter of the International Union of Operating Engineers -- formed last August representing 33 workers -- had been in negotiations with university administrators for a 2 to 3 percent raise since October until talks stalled about a month ago when the union voted down the school's offer in early March, said picketer Pat Bike, a plumber at the school for 16 years.

"Administration came back with 1 percent for people making over $50,000 a year, 1 1/2 percent for people under $50,000," he said in an interview with the Fairfield Citizen on Monday. "We have some people getting paid less than the Fairfield County averages."

The school also offered only a one-year contract, while the union wants a three-year pact that would also require the school to use department workers instead of outside workers, Bike said Monday.

"That is still under negotiation," he said.

Bike said the union does not plan to strike as of now but expects to meet with the bargaining unit to see what the its next move is.

The workers stood between the university's main gate and the gate to Fairfield College Preparatory School from about 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, joined by about five students and approximately 15 professors, Bike said. The workers, employed by the school's Facilities Department, held signs displaying slogans: "Where's the fair in Fairfield?" "Jesuit values?" and "Job Security."

"We did what we did Saturday to get back to the negotiating table," Bike said Monday.

Bike said the union notified the university and its public safety department of its plans before picketing Saturday.

"We're trying to do this in a professional way," he said. "We like working for the university."

In a statement issued Saturday, university officials said the school has bargained in good faith throughout the negotiations and will continue to do so.

"While progress has been made, there are issues remaining that separate the parties," officials said. "Fairfield University will remain open and will continue to fulfill its educational mission."

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