GEO Local 6300 Sanctuary Union Resolution

GEO Local 6300 represents around 2,700 teaching assistants and graduate assistants at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). We are a member run union whose members include international students, immigrants, people in mixed status families, and people from all walks of life. We are a social justice union and therefore fight for all our members rights outside the workplace!

Whereas, GEO Local 6300 will continue to enthusiastically embrace its responsibility to represent all of its membership, regardless of the member’s race, citizenship or immigration status, religion, ethnicity, gender identity, gender expression, sex, sexual orientation, disability, and will not be impeded or intimidated from exercising its responsibilities, and

Whereas, due to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents that have been raiding and arresting immigrants on the flimsiest of pretexts, with no regard for how long they’ve lived in the U.S, how dependent their families are upon them, or the ties they harbor with their communities, and

Whereas, President Trump has instituted a zero tolerance policy that has resulted in the separation of more than 2,000 children from their families

Whereas, GEO is committed to ensuring that their Union is a safe and welcoming place for all its members and their families regardless of their citizenship or immigration status, and

Whereas, many cities such as Urbana and Chicago, have declared themselves Sanctuary Cities, and universities such as Dominican University, Sanctuary Campuses, where officials have vowed not to collaborate to volunteer the immigration status of their residents, workers, or students, or to cooperate with ICE.

Therefore, be it resolved that:

GEO Local 6300 declares itself a “Sanctuary Union,” that will protect the rights and safety of all of its members and their families and will do everything within its power to ensure the safety and security of its members regardless of one’s immigration status,

  • We will not cooperate with ICE or local law enforcement in the prosecution or attempted deportation of our members for alleged immigration violations
  • We will oppose UIUC assisting or facilitating ICE
  • We will oppose the use of the knowledge generated at this University to aid and abet the deportation and detention machine
  • We will commit to collectively bargaining new contract language that strengthens workplace protections for immigrant members and international members
  • We will enforce our new contract language on immigration leave to ensure that our members receive the necessary support when they need to attend a required meeting or a proceeding before a government agency
  • We will continue to build alliances in the community with others engaged in similar work to protect communities and the undocumented, and participate in protests in response to ICE raids or employer collaboration for the sake of union-busting;
  • We will support the continuation of DACA and of a just immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship and does not include the militarization of the border or the building of a border wall.
  • We will not share any personal information from our members that may be used against them in terms of their immigration status;
  • We will mobilize support for Sanctuary Unions, Sanctuary Cities, Sanctuary States, and Sanctuary Campuses;

Be it further resolved:

GEO Local 6300 stands in solidarity with all communities under attack, and understands that the time for unity is now, and that standing united with all workers, particularly the most vulnerable among us, is key to beating back the attack on our unions, our communities, and our standard of living in the years to come.

The Graduate Employees’ Organization, AFT/IFT Local 6300, AFL-CIO, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, represents approximately 2,700 Teaching and Graduate Assistants on the UIUC Campus. In November 2009, and more recently, earlier this year in February 2018, GEO members and allies participated in a strike to secure a fair contract and more accessible UIUC. With an active presence in the community, the GEO continues to work for high-quality and accessible public education in Illinois.

 

 

GEO Stands in Solidarity with Nationwide Prison Strike on August 21

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Whereas, people in prison are legally slaves as per the language of the 13th amendment – “slavery and involuntary servitude shall be abolished except as punishment for a crime” – and slavery is unequivocally evil, in 1860 or 2018,

Whereas, prisoners across the country are organizing to end prison slavery and mass incarceration, and have called for a nationwide prison strike to last from August 21st to September 9th, 2018,

Whereas, in April of 2018, seven incarcerated workers lost their lives during a riot in the Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina, which could have easily been avoided had the prison not been overcrowded and subjected inmates to subhuman living conditions,

Whereas, conditions in prisons are daily examples of stunning human rights abuses and torture, with people placed in solitary confinement for decades, unclean, contaminated drinking water, brutal working conditions, absent healthcare (especially for incarcerated trans folks), sexual assault, and so on,

Whereas, many of the organizers of the 2016 Prison Strike have faced brutal repression and retaliation, with many still being held in solitary confinement,

Whereas, the strike has been endorsed by the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, Millions for Prisoners, and numerous other organizations committed to social justice and the abolition of prison slavery,

Whereas, the school to prison pipeline and general investment in repression, rather than liberty, are a serious threat to our freedom and economic and political prosperity,

Whereas, all workers have an interest in preventing any fellow worker, including incarcerated workers, from being paid slave wages, as it undermines our collective ability to secure fair wages and destroys the livelihoods of our families and communities,

Whereas, there can be no good economy based on oppression and injustice, and workers should exercise our collective power for our common liberation,

Be it resolved that the Graduate Employees Organization, IFT/AFT Local 6300 of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, endorses the August 21st strike call and stands in solidarity with incarcerated workers organizing for the strike.

The Graduate Employees’ Organization, AFT/IFT Local 6300, AFL-CIO, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, represents approximately 2,700 Teaching and Graduate Assistants on the UIUC Campus. In November 2009, and more recently, earlier this year in February 2018, GEO members and allies participated in a strike to secure a fair contract and more accessible UIUC. With an active presence in the community, the GEO continues to work for high-quality and accessible public education in Illinois.

Backpay Grievance Update, Communication Officer Needed, GEO at Orientations & More — GEO-L

***August 7, 2018***

Table of Contents:

  • Backpay and Pay Raise Grievance Update
  • GEO Needs Communications Officer(s)
  • GEO at New Grad Student Orientations, Come Help Us!
  • Membership Card Sorting This Wednesday
  • GEO Tabling at CU Days: Volunteers Needed
  • Take the GEO Library Survey!
  • Questions about Healthcare? Email the Healthcare Working Group!
  • Get Involved in a Committee!

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BACKPAY AND PAY RAISE GRIEVANCE UPDATE

The backpay and pay-raise grievance has been resolved, and the grievance committee has made efforts to contact those who added their names to the official grievance. If you have not yet been updated on your status or still have questions about how this was resolved, please contact the Grievance Officer at grievance@uigeo.org. For more information please click here.

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GEO NEEDS COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER(S)

Interested in helping GEO with its communication to membership and media? Consider running for GEO’s Communication Officer position for the 2018-2019 term! Both our previously elected officers have had to step down due to unforeseen circumstances, and the GEO is now looking for interested members to chair the Communications Committee. This role can be a single officer, or shared as co-chairs of the Committee. The responsibilities of the Communication Officer include chairing the Communications Committee and serving as a point person for a variety of projects such as sending newsletters and press releases, facilitating press interviews and media contacts, ordering GEO swag, coordinating social media presence, and representing Communications on the Coordinating Committee.

The work of the Communications Committee is highly collaborative, drawing on members from a wide variety of areas and skill sets. As Communications Officer, your task would be to recruit and coordinate members to manage communications and help connect membership interest with communications projects (see the Communications Committee description later in this email for some of those projects). If you are interested in the position, please email us at geo@uigeo.org.  

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GEO AT THE NEW GRAD STUDENT ORIENTATIONS, COME HELP US!

Each semester, first-time TAs attend big interdepartmental orientation sessions. It is crucial for us to make contact with these new TAs and sign as many new members as possible, especially to keep our union strong post-Janus. To do that, we need YOU to volunteer! Volunteers help to inform and recruit newly-appointed TAs by handing out information booklets, discussing what the union is and how we keep trying to better grad employees’ working conditions, collecting signed cards and distributing T-shirts, etc. In addition to the big TA orientation, we need volunteers to table at the International Students and Scholar Services orientation. The big TA orientation will be Monday August 20 and Tuesday August 21 outside Foellinger Auditorium; and ISSS orientation is August 16 through August 23 at the Student Dining and Residential Programs Building.

If you have not done this before, don’t worry, we have planned short orientation trainings to help you navigate volunteering at the orientation. We have one today at 5:30 pm at the GEO Office, but we will have more! Check the GEO calendar to see when they get scheduled.

The following are links for signing up for shifts at the orientations. By signing up, you will help to keep our union strong in the post-janus era! Please comment with your name and email us at geo@uigeo.org so can coordinate between volunteers:

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MEMBERSHIP CARD SORTING THIS WEDNESDAY

The last card sorting event we did  was so productive, we’ve decided to do it again! Membership cards are almost done being alphabetized, and we want to finish getting them in order before we sign up new members in the Fall semester. Join us this Wednesday, August 8th, from 5-7pm at the GEO Office. Facebook event here.
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GEO TABLING AT CU DAYS: VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

The event CU Days on Saturday August 11 from 11am – 8pm at Douglass Park, celebrates the Chambana Community. GEO will be tabling there to reach out to the community and hand out contracts to members! If you’d like to volunteer, please comment to sign up here and email us at geo@uigeo.org so can coordinate between volunteers. If you plan to attend the event, please email us a shout-out as well so that we can set aside contracts and swag for you!

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TAKE THE GEO LIBRARY SURVEY

The GEO is considering creating a union library for its members in the GEO office and we want your input in shaping the library and its resources! UIUC has the largest public university library system in the United States and has over 14 million physical items and 24 million items in other formats in its collection. Are we utilizing that resource to the best of our ability? What sort of labor specific materials are available?  How could we support our members and committees in house by making labor specific materials accessible in the office? Please take our survey to help develop a GEO library: https://goo.gl/forms/A3nEPTlJNxKN3P3l1

The survey will remain open until the end of summer.
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QUESTIONS ABOUT HEALTHCARE? EMAIL THE HEALTHCARE WORKING GROUP!

Many of us have and continue to have questions about what healthcare options we have with our current contract. Our Healthcare Working Group has obtained an email address dedicated to helping with your questions. Send them your questions at health@uigeo.org!  
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GET INVOLVED IN A COMMITTEE!

We are a member run union! GEO Committees have a lot of work to do with the new grad student orientations coming up, and need your help! Below you’ll find details about how to contact each Committee and a little more about what they do! No special knowledge is required. You can follow the calendar of events on our website for the date and time of upcoming meetings: http://uiucgeo.org/events/. Meetings are open to membership, and coming to a meeting does not mean you have to commit to joining a committee. You can just come, check things out and take things from there!

Communications Committee
The Communications Committee produces GEO-Ls and flyers, manages GEO’s social media, responds to interview requests, designs and orders swag, and more! We could use people with all varieties of skill sets, so don’t be afraid if you’re not a writer or graphic designer — we’d love to have you! You can help with writing and editing GEO-Ls, managing our social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook), being our media liaison, and archiving our history. Make sure to check the calendar for up to date information! If you are interested in joining the Communications Committee, email geo@uigeo.org or just come to a meeting!

Grievance Committee
The months after a contract is signed are the busiest time for the Grievance Committee. They are working hard defending members who are already experiencing violations of the new contract. As one of our smallest committees, they could use your help doing this essential work! Make sure to check the calendar for up to date information! If you are interested in joining the Grievance Committee, email grievance@uigeo.org.

Stewards’ Council
The Stewards’ Council (SC) is the primary organizing and planning body, and “heart” of GEO. This is where representatives from across campus come together to discuss membership needs. Right now, stewards are working on preparing for orientation for new grads, planning office visits and organizing trainings, and beginning-of-year events. Become a steward and help GEO organize across campus! Our next meeting is on Tuesday August 14th at 5:30 pm in the GEO Office (809 S. 5th St, Champaign). If you are interested in becoming a Steward, email sc@uigeo.org!

Solidarity Committee
The Solidarity Committee performs crucial outreach both within and outside of the labor community. SolComm is an important committee within GEO, especially post-Janus and could use some more members! Over the summer, SolComm is working on various summer community events and statements of solidarity. If you are interested in joining the Solidarity Committee, please email solcomm@uigeo.org.

NEW Constitutional Committee
Join the newly formed Constitutional Committee to work on updating our Constitution and By-Laws! Interested in structure and community values? Like clarifying procedures and logistics? Just want to know more about GEO? The Constitutional Committee needs members who are interested in developing a proposal to present to our general membership in the fall for review and ratification. Contact cc@uigeo.org if you’re interested in getting involved!

NEW Finance Committee

The newly formed Finance Committee is tasked with accounting, reporting to members on how dues are spent, fundraising, and connecting members to emergency financial support provided in the community. Email treasurer@uigeo.org if you would like to contribute!
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CONNECT WITH GEO!

Website: www.uiucgeo.org

Twitter: @geo_uiuc

Facebook: @uigeo  @geosolcomm

Instagram: @geo_uiuc


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 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.

In Solidarity,
Graduate Employees’ Organization

809 S. 5th St., Geneva Room

Champaign, IL 61820

Email: geo@uigeo.org

 

GEO & Janus, Appointment Letters Reminder, New Comm Officer(s) Needed & More (GEO-L)

***July 16, 2018***

Table of Contents:

  • GEO & Janus: The Game Has Changed

  • Appointment Letters Reminder

  • GEO Library Survey

  • GEO Needs a Communications Officer

  • Meet GEO’s new Admin Assistant

  • Get Involved in GEO Committees & Other Ongoing Projects

  • Connect with GEO!

 

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GEO & JANUS: THE GAME HAS CHANGED

What the Janus Decision Means for Us

Janus vs. AFSCME is a recent supreme court decision that can dramatically change how public sector unions organize and operate (here is a six point summary if you don’t want to read the whole decision). While you may have heard that this case was about free speech, this case is really the climax of years long campaigns to overturn 40+ years of legal precedent represented by the decision in Abood vs. Detroit Board of Education. If this is the first you’ve heard of the case, you can start by reading our FAQ (made pre-decision), this brief piece by UIUC’s own professor Dan Gilbert, or listening to this excellent Amicus podcast.

Now that collection of “fair-share fees” has been deemed unconstitutional, it changes how the GEO can operate. The effect of this decision for us is that some graduate workers may become free-riders: employees represented by GEO in the bargaining unit who do not pay a fair share of the cost of representation (particularly in collective bargaining and contract enforcement). Right now our goal is to encourage more graduate employees to become members and get involved so that we can remain strong as a union, continue to improve our working conditions, and enforce the contract we have just won.

How Unions Benefit Us & What Dues Have to Do With It

Unions have consistently improved the lives of workers across the board in the United States. Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show that workers represented by unions enjoy better compensation, in terms of wages, health care and many other benefits (see this short video here for a summary). Very importantly, unions provide a platform to ensure fair treatment of workers from historically marginalized groups, for example, people of color, women, & LGBTQ folks. In this way, what unions end up doing is reduce inequality (for more, see here and here)!

It takes resources to do this work to restructure systems to be fair and equitable. A union’s financial resources come from dues paid by its members, and (before the Janus decision) fair share fees paid by those who are represented, but not members. Our own union, GEO, has been working for years to ensure that graduate education is accessible for all. Losing fair share fees from represented members of our bargaining unit makes it more challenging for us to carry out our day to day operations (renting an office space, having paid staff, etc.), but also reduces our resources for enforcing our new contract (for example: legal fees for grievance procedures) or successfully bargaining a strong contract in future cycles (for example: organising direct actions such as rallies, marches, and strikes). For a good summary, please take a look at this infographic we put together. This is why we need as many as possible of those we represent to become members: so we can organise effective campaigns (even outside of collective bargaining), and so we can have as many voices as possible guiding our leadership. Every member counts. As we move into the Fall semester, talk to your peers and coworkers about the GEO, and together we can keep the union strong.

 

The Forces Behind Janus & What You Should Look Out For

The “Right To Work” movement is a legal and political strategy with a long and racist history, financed by wealthy anti-union individuals and organizations. In fact, Janus is not even the first case of this kind, with many parallels between the Janus case and previous attempts to overturn the Abood decision.In particular, the CEO of one such organization, the State Policy Network said the following in internal documents published by the Guardian: “To win the battle for freedom, we must take the fight to the unions, state by state…The target of such union-bashing, she openly admits, is to “defund and defang one of our freedom movement’s most powerful opponents, the government unions”.

In the coming months, you can expect targeted messaging encouraging you to opt out of your membership. It is important to see through these campaigns as the blatant attempts to weaken our union that they are.


As the strike demonstrated last spring, we have the collective power to make change. But we will need to  stay organized, so we are in a strong negotiating position as we continue to improve our working conditions.  

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APPOINTMENT LETTERS REMINDER 

The GEO contract states that all “TAs and GAs shall be notified of their appointment title, the major components of their assignments, wages amount, dates (duration) of service (including any mandatory or optional orientation sessions), the supervising official in the department, and the full time equivalency (FTE) of the appointment as soon as practicable, preferably at least thirty (30) days before the start of the Fall or Spring appointment.”

Many Fall appointments start in mid-August to account for orientation and prep work before the semester courses begin, meaning that on-time letters should come in mid-July or earlier. If you receive a late appointment letter please contact geo@uigeo.org.

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GEO LIBRARY SURVEY

The GEO is considering creating a union library for its members in the GEO office and we want your input in shaping the library and its resources! UIUC has the largest public university library system in the United States and has over 14 million physical items and 24 million items in other formats in its collection. Are we utilizing that resource to the best of our ability? What sort of labor specific materials are available?  How could we support our members and committees in house by making labor specific materials accessible in the office? Please take our survey to help develop a GEO library: https://goo.gl/forms/A3nEPTlJNxKN3P3l1

The survey will remain open until the end of summer.

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GEO NEEDS A NEW COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER

Interested in helping GEO with its communication to membership and media? Consider running for GEO’s Communication Officer position for the 2018-2019 term! Both our recently elected officers have had to step down due to unforeseen circumstances, and the GEO is now looking for interested members to chair the Communications Committee. This role can be a single officer, or shared as co-chairs of the Committee. The responsibilities of the Communication Officer include chairing the Communications Committee and serving as a point person for a variety of projects such as sending newsletters and press releases, facilitating press interviews and media contacts, ordering GEO swag, coordinating social media presence, and representing Communications on the Coordinating Committee.

The work of the Communications Committee is highly collaborative, drawing on members from a wide variety of areas and skill sets. As Communications Officer, your task would be to recruit and coordinate members to manage communications and help connect membership interest with communications projects (see the Communications Committee description below for some of those projects). If you are interested in the position, please email us at geo@uigeo.org.

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MEET GEO’S NEW ADMIN ASSISTANT

 


Hi GEO Community,

My name is Marielle Ogle and I’m the new Admin Assistant. I come to you with nearly 5 years of experience in the labor world and am excited to be a part of the union on campus. A little about me: I graduated from UIUC in 2010 with a B.S. in Communications, I love to try new restaurants and enjoy movies/series… like a lot 🙂 I am currently a grad student in the business school. I look forward to meeting you all and hope we can chat soon!!

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GET INVOLVED IN GEO COMMITTEES & ONGOING PROJECTS

We are a member led union! GEO Committees have work to do over the summer, and need your help! If you’d be interested in getting involved, below you’ll find details about how to contact each Committee and a little more about what they do! You can follow the calendar of events on our website for the date and time of upcoming meetings: http://uiucgeo.org/events/. Meetings are open to membership. No special knowledge required.

Communications Committee

The Communications Committee produces GEO-Ls and flyers, manages GEO’s social media, responds to interview requests, designs and orders swag, and more! We could use people with all varieties of skill sets, so don’t be afraid if you’re not a writer or graphic designer — we’d love to have you! You can help with writing and editing GEO-Ls, managing our social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook), being our media liaison, and archiving our history. Right now, we are focusing on specific summer projects such as preparing orientation packets and designing and ordering swag. Our next meeting will be a work session this coming week, make sure to check the calendar for up to date information! If you are interested in joining the Communications Committee, email geo@uigeo.org or just come to a meeting!

Grievance Committee

The months after a contract is signed are the busiest time for the Grievance Committee. They are working hard defending members who are already experiencing violations of the new contract. As one of our smallest committees, they could use your help doing this essential work! Our next meeting is this coming week, make sure to check the calendar for up to date information! If you are interested in joining the Grievance Committee, email grievance@uigeo.org

Stewards’ Council

The Stewards’ Council (SC) is the primary organizing and planning body, and “heart” of GEO. This is where representatives from across campus come together to discuss membership needs. Right now, stewards are working on preparing for orientation for new grads, planning office visits and organizing trainings, and beginning-of-year events. Become a steward and help GEO organize across campus! Our next meeting is on Tuesday July 17th at 5:30 pm in the GEO Office (809 S. 5th St, Champaign). Also, if you are interested in learning the basics of organizing, come to our stewards’ retreat on Saturday, July 21, from 11 am to 3 pm at the GEO Office. If you are interested in becoming a Steward and/or attending the retreat, email sc@uigeo.org

Solidarity Committee

The Solidarity Committee performs crucial outreach both within and outside of the labor community. SolComm is an important committee within GEO, especially post-Janus and could use some more members! Over the summer, SolComm is working on various summer community events and statements of solidarity. If you are interested in joining the Solidarity Committee, please email solcomm@uigeo.org. 

NEW Constitutional Committee

Join the newly formed Constitutional Committee to work on updating our Constitution and By-Laws! Interested in structure and community values? Like clarifying procedures and logistics? Just want to know more about GEO? The Constitutional Committee needs members who are interested in developing a proposal to present to our general membership in the fall for review and ratification. Contact cc@uigeo.org if you’re interested in getting involved!

NEW Finance Committee

The newly formed Finance Committee is tasked with accounting, reporting to members on how dues are spent, fundraising, and connecting members to emergency financial support provided in the community. Email treasurer@uigeo.org if you would like to contribute!

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CONNECT WITH GEO!


Website: www.uiucgeo.org

Twitter: @geo_uiuc

Facebook: @uigeo  @geosolcomm

Instagram: @geo_uiuc

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 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.

In Solidarity.

Graduate Employees’ Organization

809 S. 5th St., Geneva Room

Champaign, IL 61820

Phone: 217-344-8283

Email: geo@uigeo.org

GEO Statement of Solidarity with Immigrant Workers Arrested in Ohio

July 10, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Urbana-Champaign (7/10/18): We, the Graduate Employees Organization at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign IFT/AFT Local 6300 AFL-CIO stand in solidarity with our fellow workers of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) and Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU), in the wake of an ICE raid on four Fresh Mark plants in Ohio that resulted in the arrest of 146 workers.

On Tuesday, June 19th, over 100 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents descended upon the facilities and collected documents from over 200 workers, in what constitutes the largest worksite raid in over a decade. This raid comes just two weeks after another raid took place at an Ohio gardening company, also constituting one of the largest raids in the state. These are calculated raids meant to traumatize and instill fear in immigrant communities in Ohio and the nation as a whole.

In a statement following the Fresh Mark raid, RWDSU President Stuart Applebaum said, “Our union is a union of hard working people, which includes immigrants; and we stand with all immigrant workers, who are trying to support their families and better their lives. Our union will not stand for violence against immigrants; we will not stand for tearing families apart and we will not stand for the terrifying tactics of the Trump Administration.” Similarly, UFCW President Marc Perrone stated, “Tearing hard-working men and women apart from their children, families, and communities is wrong.”

The GEO condemns ICE and all immigration policies that prevent anyone from seeking a better life for themself and their family. We stand in solidarity with immigrants and workers of all nationalities, and we mourn for our fellow workers and their families who have been affected by this cruel action.

The Graduate Employees’ Organization, AFT/IFT Local 6300, AFL-CIO, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, represents approximately 2,700 Teaching and Graduate Assistants on the UIUC Campus. In November 2009, and more recently, earlier this year in February 2018, over 1,000 GEO members and allies participated in a strike to secure a fair contract and more accessible UIUC. With an active presence in the community, the GEO continues to work for high-quality and accessible public education in Illinois.

For more information, please contact geo@uigeo.org. More information can also be found on GEO’s website at www.uiucgeo.org.

Twitter: @geo_uiuc

Facebook: @uigeo @geosolcomm

Instagram: @geo_uiuc

GEO Response to Supreme Court Decision in Janus v. AFSCME (GEO-L)

***June 27th, 2018***

Today, in the case of Janus v. AFSCME, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned more than 40 years of legal precedent, ending fair share fees that went toward the costs of union-provided services that all employees collectively benefit from, including contract bargaining and legal representation.

CO-PRESIDENT STATEMENT ON JANUS v. AFSCME DECISION

Although not unexpected, the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court today favors corporate interests over working people.

This decision is an attack on public sector unions and will directly affect graduate employees and the causes we fight for every daycauses such as tuition waiver protections, wages, and healthcare. Protections that we went on strike to strengthen and that we as members of the union must work daily to affirm and defend. While the decision will affect our union, it will not affect our spirit nor dampen our commitment to improving working conditions.

As the landscape of public unions in the United States shifts, it is not enough to look back in pain. We must create a new future: a future that honors working people and their families, a future that bestows dignity and respect to all work, a future by and for the working class.

In solidarity,
Hilary Gross and Bruce Kovanen

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WANT TO HELP? GET INVOLVED!

GEO Committees have work to do over the summer, and need your help! If you’d be interested in getting involved, below you’ll find details about how to contact each Committee and a little more about what they do! You can also follow the calendar of events on our website: http://uiucgeo.org/events/  Meetings are open to membership. No special knowledge required.

Communications Committee

The Communications Committee produces GEO-Ls and flyers, manages GEO’s social media, responds to interview requests, designs and orders swag, and more! We could use people with all varieties of skill sets, so don’t be afraid if you’re not a writer or graphic designer — we’d love to have you! You can help with writing and editing GEO-Ls, managing our social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook), being GEO’s Media Liaison, and archiving our history. In addition, there are specific summer projects such as designing and ordering swag, and preparing orientation packets. There is a Communications Committee working session on Thursday at 3 pm at the GEO Office (809 S. 5th St., Champaign, IL). If you are interested in joining the Communications Committee, email geo@uigeo.org or just come to a meeting!

Grievance Committee

The months after a contract is signed is the busiest time for the Grievance Committee. They are working hard defending members who are already experiencing violations of the new contract. As one of our smallest committees, they could use your help doing this essential work! If you are interested in joining the Grievance Committee, email grievance@uigeo.org.

Stewards’ Council

The Stewards’ Council (SC) is the primary organizing and planning body, and “heart” of GEO. This is where representatives from across campus come together to discuss membership needs. Right now, Stewards are working on orientation materials, planning office visits and organizing trainings, and beginning-of-year events. Become a steward and help GEO organize across campus! If you are interested in becoming a Steward, email sc@uigeo.org! Our next meeting is on Tuesday July 3rd at 5:30 pm in the GEO Office.

Solidarity Committee

The Solidarity Committee performs crucial outreach both within and outside of the labor community. SolComm is an important committee within GEO, and could use some more members! Over the summer, SolComm is working on various summer community events, statements of solidarity, and getting Strike Thank You Notes in the mail. Join us in the office on Thursday from 2 pm to 4 pm and Friday from 11 am to 1 pm to work thanking our allies who supported us during the strike! If you are interested in joining the Solidarity Committee, please email solcomm@uigeo.org or stop by the office for our next meeting on Monday July 2nd at 5 pm.

NEW Constitutional Committee

Join the newly formed Constitutional Committee to work on updating our Constitution and By-Laws! Interested in structure and community values? Like clarifying procedures and logistics? Just want to know more about GEO? The Constitutional Committee needs members who are interested in developing a proposal over the summer to present to our general membership in the fall for review and ratification. Contact cc@uigeo.org if you’re interested in getting involved!

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CONNECT WITH GEO!

Website: www.uiucgeo.org
Twitter: @geo_uiuc
Facebook: @uigeo  @geosolcomm
Instagram: @geo_uiuc

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.

 

In Solidarity,
Graduate Employees’ Organization
809 S. 5th St., Geneva Room
Champaign, IL 61820
Phone: 217-344-8283
Email: geo@uigeo.org

Accessible audio versions found here: (Lower-pitched) (Higher-pitched)

Janus vs. AFSCME Decision Next Week before June 30, Scam Alert & Grievance Update (GEO-L)

***June 24th, 2018***

Table of Contents:

  • Janus Vs. AFSCME Decision Next Week before June 30
  • Scam Alert!
  • Update on Back Pay & Raises Grievance
  • Connect with GEO


JANUS vs AFSCME DECISION NEXT WEEK BEFORE JUNE 30

A decision on the Janus vs AFSCME Supreme Court case will be announced anytime next week before June 30. We will keep you posted on what the decision is, so please watch out for another email sometime next week! We will also keep posting on our social media about this, so please stay tuned to our Facebook or Twitter.

  • If you don’t know a lot about the Janus case, see our FAQ here: long version & short version. We also made an infographic about how this case will affect GEO. Our awesome GEO stewards have also spoken about why they want you to learn about Janus!
  • If you’re interested in the legal side of things, here’s an excellent Amicus podcast where law professor Catherine Fisk goes over the arguments at the heart of the Janus case.
  • Is this case really about free speech by employees who disagree with “political” activities of the union? ACLU staff explain in this piece why they don’t think union fair share fees violate the first amendment.
  • It’s important to know about the history of the Janus case and the powerful organizations that have bankrolled it all the way to the Supreme Court.
    • Did you know that this case started when Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner filed a lawsuit in 2015 challenging the constitutionality of fair share fees?
    • It’s easy to focus on individual plaintiffs like Mark Janus, but here’s a New York Times piece and another exhaustive report about the conservative advocacy organizations that have worked for years to cut back the strength of public unions.
    • In particular, the CEO of one such organization, the State Policy Network said the following in internal documents published by the Guardian: “To win the battle for freedom, we must take the fight to the unions, state by state…The target of such union-bashing, she openly admits, is to “defund and defang one of our freedom movement’s most powerful opponents, the government unions”.
  • Janus could bring in federal “right to work” but the history of this movement has its racist origins in entities seeking to maintain Jim Crow labor relations in the South. You can watch this short video here to learn more.

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SCAM ALERT!

Beware Corporate Interests Who Ask You To Drop Your Union Membership

If the Supreme Court decides in favor of Mark Janus in Janus v. AFSCME, the same corporate interests bankrolling the case will hire people to pressure you to drop your union membership.

These people will tell you to “Give yourself a raise” by dropping your union dues. They may call, email, or approach you in person at work or at your home.

These people DO NOT have your best interests in mind!

What’s the Truth?

UIUC TAs and GAs have increased their minimum pay by more than 50%, in addition to gains in health care and tuition waivers, since they started bargaining a union contract 15 years ago.

The best way to give yourself a raise? Keep the union strong by remaining a member and getting involved!

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UPDATE ON GRIEVANCE ON BACK PAY & RAISES

The Grievance Committee met with Heather Horn (the Assistant Director of Academic Labor and Employee Relations) on Friday, June 22. At this meeting, we discussed a variety of questions regarding eligibility, definitions of reappointments/new appointments, percentages of pay raises, departmental actions, etc. We have more clarity on how Academic HR has handled these after this meeting and a firmer grasp on potential next steps.

Moving forward, please keep in mind that, while it appears that the University does not always act in the best interest of its employees, it is always presumed that they have not acted out of line. So, this means that, in some cases, it is (will be) difficult to prove that the University has committed an offense against us as employees. Consequently, it might be that some issues are resolved to our liking while others are not. And, as we traverse the terrain of a new contract, we will have to learn and/or negotiate what some of the new language means—both for us and for the University. As with all things, the GEO is doing what it can to make sure that the most people get maximum benefits. We are partners in this together with you and your co-laborer in making sure all employees receive fair compensation for their work.

Thank you for your patience as the Grievance Committee has worked diligently to keep track of back pay and pay raise inquiries related to the new contract. Feel free to email us at grievance@uigeo.org directly so that we can reply to your specific questions.

——

CONNECT WITH GEO!

Website: uiucgeo.org
Twitter: @geo_uiuc
Facebook: @uigeo  @geosolcomm
Instagram: @geo_uiuc

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 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.

——-

In Solidarity,
Graduate Employees’ Organization
809 S. 5th St., Geneva Room
Champaign, IL 61820
Phone: 217-344-8283
Email: geo@uigeo.org

GEO Condemns the Trump Administration’s Detention & Separation of Families at the Southern US Border

June 24, 2018

We, the Graduate Employees Organization at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign IFT/AFT Local 6300 AFL-CIO, strongly condemn the detention and separation of families along the U.S.-Mexico border. Since the beginning of May 2018, more than 2,000 children have been separated from their parents or primary caregivers when apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol at the Southern U.S. border. The children were separated as part of President Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy against unauthorized border crossings. The policy applies to adults regardless of whether they are traveling with children or not. This policy of separating children, some as young as 18 months, from their parents or primary caregivers is unique to the current administration. Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated that separating families at the border is meant to be “a deterrent” for future border crossers. In essence, children are being used as pawns in a hostile, anti-immigrant political environment.

Families are crossing the border seeking asylum as they try to escape violence and persecution in their home countries. Seeking asylum at a port of entry is not a crime but the Trump administration is treating it as such. There is no law requiring the separation of immigrant families at ports of entry. The Trump administration  made the decision to charge people crossing the border with illegal entry and to charge asylum seekers in criminal court. Furthermore, the treatment of children is in direct violation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) which specifies how the government must treat migrant children. The TVPRA requires that authorities place children in the “least restrictive setting possible.” That is not the case. Multiple sources have published pictures of children being kept in makeshift cages in holding facilities, in border states, such as Texas. Furthermore, the United Nations (U.N.) top human rights official, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, has spoken against Trump’s policy of separating families, stating that “inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable.”

The United States has a long history of separating families and ripping children from their parents’ arms. The Trump administration will go down in history along with the slave owners who tore children from their mothers and sold them into slavery. It will go down in history with previous government policies that separated Native American children from their families and placed them in boarding schools where they were forced to relinquish their cultural practices. Seperating children from their parents is not a novel tool of oppression by the United States government.

Following nationwide protests against the separation of families at the border, President Trump has signed an executive order to imprison families together. Families who are detained at the border will no longer be separated, but they will still be jailed and kept in inadequate and deplorable detention facilities. This executive order is not enough. This executive order does not change the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy. Families seeking asylum will still be criminalized, traumatized, and treated as less than human. Furthermore, it is not clear whether, or when, the over 2,000 children who were separated from their families will be reunited with them. These children will continue to be held hostage.

Therefore, we, as graduate workers, students, and educators, condemn the current immigration policies and call for the abolishing of the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and an end to the criminalization of immigrants. We cannot wait for another mass immigrant grave to follow the one discovered in Texas in 2015. We call on Governor Rauner to join the governors of Maryland, Massachusetts, Virginia, Rhode Island, Colorado, New York, North Carolina, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Delaware and Oregon to withhold their respective National Guards from assisting immigration enforcement. And we call on the Trump administration to reunite the families who have been separated and to stop using children as tools in their political game.

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. In November 2009, and more recently, earlier this year in February 2018, GEO members and allies participated in a strike to secure a fair contract and more accessible UIUC. With an active presence in the community, the GEO continues to work for high-quality and accessible public education in Illinois.

For more information, please contact us geo@uigeo.org. More information can also be found on our website at www.uiucgeo.org.

Twitter: @geo_uiuc Facebook: @uigeo @geosolcomm Instagram: @geo_uiuc

GEO Calls for AFT/IFT Solidarity with Palestine

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

19 June 2018

GEO Calls for AFT/IFT Solidarity with Palestine

We, the Graduate Employees Organization at UIUC, AFT/IFT 6300 have watched in outrage, sadness, and horror as Israeli snipers have maimed and murdered Palestinian children, young adults, journalists, and medical first responders in Gaza over the past month. Much of this violence was committed simultaneously with the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem: as a Christian extremist anti-Semitic U.S. pastor gave the prayer for the opening ceremony, as a virulently anti-Black rabbi blessed Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, as ordinary Israeli citizens cheered and chanted for IDF soldiers to “burn them, shoot them, kill them” in reference to non-violent Palestinian protesters, and as wealthy politicians sipped champagne and celebrated.

How many people in the U.S. labor movement are aware that Palestinian workers held a general strike on May 15, Nakba Day, in protest of incrementally-genocidal Israeli settler colonization? How many U.S. labor leaders have declared solidarity with Palestinian workers? How many U.S. labor unions have followed in the great tradition of transnational anti-colonial labor solidarity by standing with Palestine against a genocidal process currently led by anti-labor extremists such as Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu? How many U.S. labor unions have followed the example of labor unions globally by declaring support for the non-violent BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement?

We are saddened and disappointed that our own AFT/IFT leadership have a history not only of silence on these matters, but complicity with the racist and genocidal regime that guns down unarmed Palestinians in the open air prison that is Gaza.

We are saddened and disappointed in the hostility that AFT leaders such as Randi Weingarten have expressed to the internationally-respected and non-violent tactic of BDS. Such leaders are out of touch and out of step with the rank and file of our union. We, the GEO, proudly endorsed a Divestment campaign led by Palestinian students on our campus this academic year (2017-2018), and we plan to do likewise next year. We call on AFT/IFT leadership to unequivocally, and in an unqualified manner, condemn Israel’s murderous aggression and blatant human rights abuses against Palestinians, and to act in substantive solidarity with the Palestinian people who are struggling against racism, apartheid, and colonization—struggling for freedom. A labor movement that does not fight for justice against the bullies of the world is no labor movement at all.

Palestine must be free!

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. In November 2009, and more recently, earlier this year in February 2018, GEO members and allies participated in a strike to secure a fair contract and more accessible UIUC. With an active presence in the community, the GEO continues to work for high-quality and accessible public education in Illinois.

For more information, please contact us geo@uigeo.org. More information can also be found on our website at www.uiucgeo.org.

Twitter: @geo_uiuc Facebook: @uigeo @geosolcomm Instagram: @geo_uiuc

Janus vs. AFSCME & Union Benefits, SB 2546 Passed & More – GEO-L

***June 11th, 2018***

Table of Contents:

  • Janus Vs. AFSCME & the Benefits of Unions
  • Senate Bill 2546 Passed by Both Houses
  • Back Pay & Raises: How to Enquire about Eligibility
  • GEO Staff Evaluations
  • Connect with GEO

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JANUS vs AFSCME & THE BENEFITS OF UNIONS

The decision in the Janus vs. ASCFME Supreme Court case could come at any time. The results of this case could reshape the landscape of organized labor. Over the past two weeks, the GEO has shared information about the upcoming decision, its possible ramifications, and the ways in which we as GEO members and workers can help to mitigate those effects by standing strong together.

We have put together an FAQ on the Janus case The biggest immediate impact that the case could have on any union is in the potential abolition of fair-share dues. These dues, which are currently collected from all bargaining unit members, provide resources that the GEO uses in order to help defend its members, both in the case of specific grievances and in being able to maintain a strong negotiating position from which we can bargain, as we did this spring, for fairer wages and a more equitable workplace. Such activities benefit all members of the bargaining unit; even the plaintiff in the case, Mark Janus, has benefitted from the work that AFSCME has done with its fair share dues.

Very importantly, the labor movement has historically been a major player in ensuring the civil rights of people of color in the workplace. For instance, unionized women of color currently earn more than their non-unionized counterparts. This is reflective overall of a union’s goal of allowing us to stand together in order to protect the rights of those members who are the most structurally vulnerable. It is thus thought that a decision in favor of Janus could more adversely affect people of color. We must continue to stand together as a union to ensure workplace equity for ourselves and our colleagues .

It is likely that there will be a decision on Janus within the coming days and weeks. We will continue to put out information on the case and its potential ramifications. Stay tuned to our Facebook or Twitter throughout the coming days for more information!

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SENATE BILL 2546  Passed by both Houses

SB 2546, the bill that would allow RAs & PGAs in Illinois to unionize, passed the Illinois House of Representatives on May 30th with 66 votes! Remember, this bill had already been passed by the Senate earlier with 34 votes. Please see link here to track the journey of this bill so far.

However, Governor Rauner could still veto the bill. We need to continue to make our voices heard in order to show the Governor and the full Illinois Legislature that ALL graduate workers including RAs and PGAs deserve union representation. Please contact Governor Rauner at his Springfield Office (217-782-0244) or his Chicago Office (312-814-2121) and tell him to sign this bill into law!

A number of GEO members who are RAs and PGAs have written great testimonials on why they want to be represented by a union. You can find them on our Facebook page or on Twitter by searching for the hashtag #WeAreWorkers. We’d love to hear from more RAs and PGAs on this, so if you have questions/comments, or even better, if you’d like to write a testimonial, please email us at geo@uigeo.org or message us on facebook!

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BACK PAY & RAISES – HOW TO INQUIRE ABOUT ELIGIBILITY

The GEO Grievance Committee is currently compiling a list of members who have reported not seeing pay raises and/or backpay in their May paychecks. The contract stipulates that eligibility for back pay and/or pay raises in the first year of the contract is determined on the basis of belonging to the Bargaining Unit (TAs and GAs) at the time the contract was executed—April 2, 2018.

According to grievance procedure, the committee has sent University HR a list of names asking for clarification on these issues and will be responding to emails as quickly as possible.

If you are unsure of your eligibility, or believe that you are owed a raise and/or back pay for your assistantship(s), please email geo@uigeo.org and include: (1) your appointment letter(s) from the past academic year, (2) your May NESSIE statement, and (3) tell us whether you were “reappointed” in Spring 2018. Reappointed, according to the language in the contract, means that assistants held “the same job in the same unit [department] as the assistant held in the previous semester (summer excluded) or within the three previous academic years.”

The GEO has filed a grievance on this matter and is trying to resolve it as quickly as possible. If you have already sent us your information please be patient as we work towards resolution.

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GEO STAFF EVALUATIONS

GEO needs your input for our staff evaluations! Your feedback helps elected GEO Officers (who are members) make informed decisions about personnel matters, and it helps GEO staff understand the needs and interests of members.

Please help us by sharing your opinions and feedback on this form!

——

CONNECT WITH GEO!

Website: uiucgeo.org
Twitter: @geo_uiuc
Facebook: @uigeo  @geosolcomm
Instagram: @geo_uiuc

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.

——-

In Solidarity,

Graduate Employees’ Organization
809 S. 5th St., Geneva Room
Champaign, IL 61820
Phone: 217-344-8283
Email: geo@uigeo.org