Urbana-Champaign (January 17, 2018): The Graduate Employees Organization Local 6300 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign calls on members, allies, and community supporters to join us on campus at the Alma Mater on Thursday, January 18th, 12PM to protest against the University administrative bargaining team’s failure to bargain wages during this contract negotiation cycle, by proposing the Campus Wage Program. This violation of Illinois labor law represents only one instance in a pattern of disrespect, betrayal, and outright negligence towards the economic stability of teaching and graduate assistants, which undermines the quality and integrity of both graduate and undergraduate education at UIUC.
Since March of last year, the GEO has repeatedly attempted to discuss a fair wage proposal that would move graduate workers closer to the University’s published cost of living standard by raising the minimum wage and guaranteeing yearly raises. However, the University administrative bargaining team, under the direction of former Provost John Wilkin, thwarted each attempt by proclaiming their desire to force the Campus Wage Program on graduate workers. By proposing the Campus Wage Program, the UIUC administration is stating that it will decide and state at a later date, without the union’s input, any salary changes for the bargaining unit. Thus, the administrative bargaining team seeks to retain sole authority to determine graduate employee wages, rather than bargaining them with the Union as required by law. The Campus Wage Program proposal does not only offer no guarantee that wages will go up during the years it is in effect, but also opens the door for the Administration to reduce graduate employee wages whenever they see fit. Currently, the minimum wage for graduate employees is $16,360, thousands of dollars less than the University’s own published cost of living, which is an estimated $22,314. This refusal to bargain wages in good faith not only interferes with the power of graduate employees to exercise their rights as guaranteed by the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, it also forces the Graduate Employees Organization closer to a possible work stoppage in the near future. “We must not allow the UIUC administration to remove our voices and power in determining our working conditions and pay,” said GEO Co-President Gus Wood. “If they succeed in dictating a regressive contract to us, other unions, workers, and historically disadvantaged groups and peoples will be subject to similar losses of agency and protections. It must stop here and now.”
This rally at the Alma Mater and subsequent march to the Swanlund Administration Building represents the GEO’s stark warning to the UIUC administration that we will no longer tolerate unfair labor practices, regressive proposals at the bargaining table, and 156 days without a contract. The UIUC administration’s lackadaisical approach to graduate worker protections is an outright betrayal and danger to our economic stability and productivity as workers and scholars. Join us Thursday as we build power and collective solidarity with one another, and each day after until we secure a fair contract for graduate workers at UIUC. Our fight for economic stability will reverberate across labor sectors in Champaign County, the state of Illinois, and the United States of America.
Workers Unite! Power to the People!
Graduate Employees’ Organization UIUC
Local 6300 IFT/AFT, AFL-CIO