***February 19, 2018 — 189 days since our contract expired on August 15th***
Table of Contents:
- Co-President’s Message
- Bargaining Update
- Picket Training
- Pre-Strike GMM
- FAQs and Basic Information on Striking and Tuition Waivers
- Connect with Faculty – Templates
- Financial Planning Information
- Breakdown of the Admin’s FAQ
- Connect with GEO
Greetings GEO members,
In exactly one week, we will exercise our legal right, and last option, and go out on strike to demand a fair contract that promises the following: tuition waiver protection for graduate students that do teaching or graduate assistant work, and financial stability through in an increase in our other economic proposals. This will be a strike for our very survival as a union and some of our members’ ability to attend this university. These stakes are not hyperbolic; rather, they portray a dire situation that could transform both the University of Illinois and U.S. higher education as we know it.
For many of our members who have never participated in such a major event, the question is simple: what exactly is a strike and how can we be as effective as possible in winning it? A Strike is 2 Parts: Withholding our labor and disrupting campus operations via picketing. This means we MUST NOT teach, grade work, submit grades, answer work-related emails, or produce any contributions to the operations of this campus. Additionally, we must picket classroom buildings throughout the campus to fully disrupt productivity on campus. Yes, the major act of a strike is to withhold labor; however, to win the proposals we want in our contract, we must demonstrate our organizing power and exercise every tactic as possible. We must be as strong as ever and picketing ensures that our strike is multifaceted and devastating enough to win benefits for everyone in our wonderful campus community. If classroom buildings are empty and we are disrupting campus, it will force the administration to bargain a fair contract. This is how we will win!
We must do whatever necessary to educate both members and non-members of the dangers of crossing the picket line, which means performing your job labor during a strike or walking into picketed buildings. Crossing the picket line not only undermines and weakens the strike itself, but it hurts our colleagues, friends, students, and departments. If you know a member or non-member that is unsure about the strike or does not want to support the strike, we must have multiple conversations that emphasize supporting each other and solidarity to win this for all of us!
Thank you all for all of your hard work in preparing for such a difficult, yet rewarding action. A work stoppage is a righteous move by workers used solely as a final option to protect ourselves, our undergraduates, and the quality of education at this university. Please stay tuned to all updates, logistics, and advice for the strike and DO NOT HESITATE to contact GEO at any point for any questions, comments, ideas, or volunteering to help. We have seven days to make sure everyone is on the right page with our plan so we will win!!!
Gus Wood and Marilia Correa
Graduate Employees Organization Local 6300 IFT/AFT AFL-CIO
At our last session, on Thursday, Feb. 15, over the course of 12 hours, GEO and the Administration sent several proposals back and forth. Because the Administration insists on continuing to threaten tuition waivers and is unwilling to provide a meaningful increase in their financial package, little movement was made toward reaching a compromise. The Administration has never argued that they can’t afford our proposals, but it is clear they simply do not value our labor enough to provide us with fair compensation and financial stability. We will continue to meet to try to avoid a strike, but more than ever we need to make sure we’re continuing to put in the organizing effort to make sure we’re ready to walk off the job on February 26th.
We’ll be back in the bargaining room Friday, Feb. 23rd, hoping to reach a settlement before our strike Monday. All members are invited.
Picket Trainings will be held multiple times throughout the week. Keep an eye out for facebook events or email us at email@example.com to get the schedule for this week. It is very important that you attend at least one Picket Training, especially if you intend to serve as a Picket Captain.
Our next General Membership will be Thursday, February 22, at 6:30pm in the Channing Murray Foundation (1209 W Oregon St, Urbana). We will spend roughly 30-45 minutes on Strike Information and spend another 45 minutes making signs and chants for the picket lines.With our Union under threat, it’s important to come together and prepare for a strike that wins us a contract! Food and childcare provided.
FAQs and Basic Information on Striking and Tuition Waivers
Strike FAQ: Basic information about striking, retaliation, talking to faculty and students, the Admin’s website, and more.
Strike Manual: Detailed information on striking including legality, financial planning, and the nitty-gritty of how striking works.
Bargaining Movement Document: GEO has shown a willingness to meet the Administration halfway again and again. This document details what movements have been made from our original proposals.
Undergraduate FAQ: Are your undergrads asking questions? This FAQ is a good place for them to start.
On January 29, 2018, after GEO filed Intent to Strike paperwork, the Administration sent a massmail in which they expressed “surprise and disappointment” at the development. Here is our one-page response, which discusses why the paperwork was filed, as well as the importance of graduate employees to the University as a whole.
Tuition Waivers are one of the most contentious issues in this bargaining cycle.
This one-page FAQ on the Administration’s Tuition Waiver proposal covers the basics.
You can read the current side letter containing tuition waiver protections on the final page of our contract, here. The Admin’s proposed new side letter is on the final page of their latest offer, here.
On February 9, 2018, the Administration sent out a massmail that contained a great deal of misinformation on tuition waivers. Here is our response.
Connect with Faculty – Templates
Faculty Support Letter Template: A template letter that faculty can use to show their support.
Template Letter for Class Cancellation: A template letter for asking your professors to cancel their classes (including graduate seminars!).
Financial Planning Information
FAQ for Finances: This document is an FAQ for preparing financially for a strike.
Support Resources for the Strike: This document contains information for any financial emergencies that may arise as a result of withheld pay, including emergency shelter and food resources.
Breakdown of the Admin’s FAQ
Admin FAQ Breakdown: A breakdown of the inaccuracies and misleading statements found within the Administration’s FAQ as published on their Human Resources page.
CONNECT WITH GEO!
Sign up for text updates! Text updates are the fastest, best way to get crucial GEO information. Text the word “GEO” to 69238 to receive periodic messages concerning crucial bargaining updates and other urgent information. Msg & data rates may apply. Text STOP to 69238 to stop receiving messages. Text HELP to 69238 for more information. Terms & Conditions.
Graduate Employees’ Organization
809 S. 5th St., Geneva Room
Champaign, IL 61820
This is a newsletter for members about our recent news and events. The Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO), IFT/AFT local 6300, AFL-CIO, is a member-run labor union and represents Teaching and Graduate Assistants (TAs and GAs) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.