***February 5, 2018 — 175 days since our contract expired on August 15th***
Table of Contents:
- Co-President’s Message
- Bargaining Update
- ISG Resolution
- Strike FAQ, Resources, Manual
- Connect with GEO
This past week proves that we continue to grow larger and stronger because we hold two core principles in GEO: transparency and commitment. Throughout this bargaining cycle, we have been completely transparent in our objectives, motivations, and movements regarding our contract proposals and our willingness to do everything to avoid a strike. Unfortunately, we are “shocked and disappointed” that the University of Illinois administrative bargaining team, led by Provost Andreas Cangellaris, does not feel they owe transparency and commitment to the graduate workers on this campus, have forced us to work without a contract for over 170 days, and forced us to file an Intent to Strike Notice. If you or a colleague you know are as disappointed and shocked as we are, then please join us in solidarity on Wednesday morning, Feb. 7th, 8AM, to show the administration how much we care about our financial stability and resolving this contract before a strike occurs. Think of these stakes when you sign a strike commitment card and ask other members to sign strike commitment cards, because that is what it takes to win this contract and if the administration knows we all care enough to commit to strike, it is possible to resolve this contract fight at the table on the 7th.
We are also shocked and disappointed about the false narrative in the Provost’s massmail and other administrative messaging regarding GEO priorities at the bargaining table. The truth about tuition waivers on the bargaining table right now is this:
The University administration wants tuition waivers to be an OPTIONAL benefit for graduate students working. GEO believes, as do TWO separate ARBITRATORS, that tuition waivers are a substantial part of the compensation package guaranteed by our contract. The University of Illinois administration wants to make tuition waivers optional for people working in any program that they might choose or create in the future. GEO believes that any graduate student doing graduate employee work is entitled to a full tuition waiver guaranteed by the union contract. Over nearly the span of a decade, the University administration has taken at least two programs, one in Fine and Applied Arts and one in Masters in Computer Science, and turned them into self-funded programs. In effect, they forced the graduate students working in those programs to go out and find a tuition waiver from another department. GEO grieved both of these actions as violations of our contract. Two separate labor arbitrators upheld these grievances, forcing the admin to pay out over $1 MILLION to grad students. It is this practice that the admin wants to continue. To do this, the admin wants to change our current status quo tuition waiver side letter language. Obviously, the University administration can create whatever program they want to create. However, as long as there is a graduate student in that program doing graduate employee work, then that graduate student MUST be paid their full compensation, including a tuition waiver, via our contract. We, as graduate workers will NOT pay to work at this university. This is part of our priority of securing financial stability for our members in this contract. If a strike occurs, it will be about preserving our tuition waiver protection and obtaining more money to better our financial conditions as workers and students.
Wednesday, February 7th will be a defining moment for the Graduate Employees Organization. We need every single GEO member and ally to be at the Fire Services Institute at 8AM to win this contract next week. Our bargaining team is willing to negotiate at anytime and anyplace to avoid a strike. That is the type of transparency and commitment it takes to fight for and win financial stability and better working conditions for graduate workers at UIUC. Thank you all!
Gus Wood & Marilia Correa
Graduate Employees Organization Local 6300 UIUC
At our last bargaining session on January 30th, our membership turned out in force to line the hallways of the Fire Services Institute to show the Administration our commitment to winning this contract fight. Because of our actions, we were able to reach an agreement in principle with the Administration on Appointment Terms, which would provide any employee who received a late appointment letter $50 in compensation. Full recap of the session is available here.
Our next session, on Wednesday, Feb. 7th, is going to be crucial, as it is the last session scheduled before we can legally strike. We’re asking all members that are able to turn out for the beginning of the session again to show the Administration we mean business. You can check out a Facebook event for this work action here. Be sure to invite all your friends and colleagues!
At their meeting on Wednesday, January 31, the Illinois Student Government (ISG) passed a resolution supporting the GEO’s fight for a fair contract. The resolution recognizes that our proposals reflect the needs of our membership, calls upon the University administration to bargain fairly with us, and notes that movement on behalf of the University will help avoid a strike. The resolution passed with an overwhelming majority, with 24 in favor, 3 opposed, and one abstention. Various student senators voiced their support for graduate workers on campus, citing their positive experience with us as teachers, mentors, and colleagues, and the importance of our work for the prestige of the University.
The UIUC ISG is one of the few student senates that represents undergraduate as well as graduate students. There are currently multiple open graduate student seats in the senate; if you’re interested in getting involved, we encourage you to learn more at https://isg.illinois.edu/view/7038/396488
Strike FAQ, Resources, and Manual
On our website, we have resources to help inform and answer questions about a strike. Our FAQ includes information on how to talk to faculty and students about the strike, information about retaliation (which is illegal), and a link to our detailed Strike Manual. If you have other questions, talk to your steward or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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.