Bargaining: 21st Session Summary

***Jan 18th, 2017 — 156 days since our contract expired on August 15!***

On January 18th the GEO Bargaining Team (BT) and the UIUC Administration held their twenty-first bargaining session.

We started by talking to the mediator about what happened over the past two sessions regarding a memorandum of understanding (MOU) about the timeliness of appointment letters. At the end of the last session on January 5th, the Administration gave us a proposal that was a stark shift in their former position, ignoring all we accomplished together in a collaborative brainstorming session on December 12th. Today, we pushed the mediator to get a reason from the administration for their sudden change of heart. The mediator returned more confused than he left, suggesting that we could try to meet face to face with the admin team yet again about this topic. Given the number of things still on the table, we decided another discussion about the MOU would be a waste of time today, which is a huge disappointment given that we had previously reached an agreement in principle with the Administration. We realized we needed to do something to push them and reveal their true intentions.

At 11:22 a.m., the GEO bargaining team gave the Administration a comprehensive package proposal that contained all of the items still being negotiated. This package contained movement from the GEO’s initial positions on our wages, healthcare, appointment terms, duration, and childcare proposals. The GEO bargaining team has taken this definitive strategic position in order to demonstrate that we are interested in doing everything we can to resolve negotiations at the table and avoid a strike.

The Administration, however, does not seem to share this desire. At 2:30 p.m., the mediator let us know that the Administration would not be replying to our package today–despite the fact that we were scheduled to bargain until 4:00 p.m. They also did not respond to an information request sent over the weekend asking how the fee money we pay is spent by the University. It’s become abundantly clear that bargaining isn’t working. We believe that the Administration is bargaining in this way in order to force the GEO out onto picket lines.

These next few weeks will be crucial for us, as we prepare for a possible strike. If we all come together, we will win. We need everyone to be talking with and educating their colleagues, faculty, prospective students to your program, and your own students to inform them of our struggle and let them know what’s at stake.

What Comes Next:

Join us in fighting for a fair contract!

Call/Email the Provost

The GEO bargaining team would like EVERYONE to help us send a message to the administration today: please call (217.333.6677) or email ( our provost Andreas Cangellaris and demand that this institution treat graduate employees with the respect they deserve and bargain with the GEO in good faith. Demand he hear us and help the GEO bargaining team force this administrative team to stop stalling and start bargaining. Here’s a template you can use:

Provost Cangellaris,

I am a (GEO member/alumni/undergraduate student/etc). I am disgusted by the lack of good faith effort demonstrated by this administration during this bargaining cycle. You should be embarrassed that a group of administrators representing the U of I system as an employer continuously make excuses for their lack of movement from their ridiculous positions by claiming things are too operationally difficult to implement, or that they don’t have the information they need to make decisions. This is an appalling way to run a university that supposedly prides itself on providing a world-class education to its students.

Your graduate employees perform crucial labor that make this university world-class, and yet you dare them to walk off the job in order to secure such bare necessities as modest wage increases and better healthcare coverage. A graduate employee making a minimum wage on this campus is making 29% less than what is published as a living wage for this community. In this communication I will ask you nicely: please do your job in a way that actually reflects the values the U of I system claims publicly. Force the administration’s bargaining team to bargain in good faith and stop making pathetic attempts to expand management rights and nullify the effects of our collective bargaining agreement. We love our students and don’t want to do anything that detracts from the quality of their education. However, we will if we have to.

How dare you let these administrators sit around in a room all day and dare us to put this campus through a strike.


Strike Committee Meeting

The Strike Committee will be meeting on Saturday, 1/20, at 4:00pm in the GEO office to prepare for a possible strike. All members are welcome and encouraged to attend.

General Membership Meeting

Our next GMM will be Thursday, January 25, at 6:30pm in the Channing Murray Foundation (1209 W Oregon St, Urbana), and it will be a crucial one. We will be discussing and answering questions about a possible strike. Please make it a priority to attend this meeting and let your colleagues and friends know they should attend as well. Food and childcare will be provided. Here’s a link to the Facebook event.


The session is tentatively scheduled for Jan 30th. All members are welcome to attend for part or all of the session. You can also find more information about bargaining on our website.

If you have questions about bargaining or the BT’s proposal, attending a meeting is the best way to address them. You can reach us at

Are you a member?

Our members are why we succeed at the bargaining table! If you haven’t signed a membership card yet, don’t delay! Contact us at to sign a membership card. If you’re not sure of your membership status, please ask!

See the GEO event calendar for future BT meetings, bargaining sessions, and other events. Add it to your Google calendar by searching for

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