***Jan 30th, 2018 — 169 days since our contract expired on August 15!***
Thank you to all the GEO members and supporters who arrived early this morning to line the halls of the Fire Services Institute before the bargaining session began. Over 100 people showed up, including people who brought their children, to look the Administration in the eye before administration sent their comprehensive proposal response. Chanting from GEO members and supporters echoed in the halls for a few minutes. The Administration’s bargaining team called the police to report us as a noise nuisance, stating they could not focus on their discussion. Apparently the Administration did not do their homework in preparing a proposal for us to start today’s session, so they needed almost 45 minutes to give us a response to our proposal from the last session.
The Administration’s initial proposal included:
- a wage increase that does not keep up with the cost of living or provide our members with the economic stability they need (1.5%-2% for the first year, 1% for the second, and 1.5% for the third, nothing for the final two contract years).
- an article on appointment terms which provided no remedy for late appointment letters while shortening the definition of ‘late.’
- no fee waivers
- a cap on their own expenses for healthcare while leaving us on the hook for the rest, even as our healthcare costs continue to increase.
- the same child care informational link that they have proposed before
- a horrendous Tuition Waiver Side Letter that undermines our access to tuition waivers
Together this proposal makes education unaffordable and inaccessible for graduate employees!!
We waited for weeks for the administration to respond to our information request about fee waivers, and today the administration finally gave us information about where our fee money goes. With this information, we were able to start discussions through the mediator about moving toward a new agreement. In a substantial show of movement on our part, we even signaled a willingness to pay certain fees that cover services that directly benefit graduate employees: the transportation fee and the student initiated fees. The Administration did not respond.
We also discussed appointment terms today, specifically, what remedy we could agree on for the many graduate employees whose appointment letters are late. Almost a year ago, we proposed financial compensation for the stress caused by late appointment letters. The Administration claimed that would be too burdensome for them, but consistently refused to suggest any ideas of their own. We maintained that we needed a financial remedy. Finally, today the Administration returned with a compromise we think benefits our members: the timeline for receiving appointment letters will be shorter, but employees who receive their appointment letters late can be awarded financial compensation. GEO agrees to this in principle and we are looking forward to including this in our future economic proposals.
We were only able to get this movement from the Administration because of our member actions. After essentially ending our session early last time, they stayed for almost twelve hours today–a direct testament to our member mobilization. By filing our Intent to Strike paperwork and then having so many members show up for the bargaining session, we showed the Administration that we are serious about winning a better contract for GEO, and are prepared to do whatever it takes.
What Comes Next:
Join us in fighting for a fair contract!
Strike Committee Meeting
The Strike Committee will be meeting on Saturday, 2/3, at 2pm 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, February 1, at 6:30pm in the Channing Murray Foundation (1209 W Oregon St, Urbana)
NEXT BARGAINING SESSION:
The date of the next session has not yet been announced, but we will publish that information once a date has been set. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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