FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: GRADUATE EMPLOYEES ORGANIZATION (GEO) OF UIUC RALLIES AT ALMA MATER AFTER FILING UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICE CHARGE AGAINST UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS ADMINISTRATION FOR FAILURE TO BARGAIN WAGES

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

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Bargaining: 20th Session Summary

***Jan 7, 2017 — 145 days since our contract expired on August 15!***

On January 5th the GEO Bargaining Team (BT) and the UIUC Administration held their twentieth bargaining session / eighth mediation session, which lasted 8 hours. GEO would have stayed longer, but Administration notified us during the session that they were only available until 5 pm.

The Bargaining Team began the session by providing feedback on and raising concerns with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) proposed by the Administration at the very end of the previous session. The MOU is designed to begin to fix the Administration’s difficulty with sending appointment letters on time, and would establish a committee comprised of GEO and Administration members who would work to remedy the issue. Currently, over 95% of appointment letters are sent late in violation of our contract. This causes serious problems for GEO members who require timely notification of employment to secure housing and get visas.

After hearing our concerns, the Admin asked us to craft a counter-proposal, which we sent to them at 1:00. The Admin sent us back a counter at 4:45, meaning that we wouldn’t have time to respond before the session ended at 5:00. Regrettably, the Admin’s counter proposal was actually worse than the previous one they had sent us, despite the fact that we believed we were making progress towards reaching a mutually agreeable memorandum. The fact that the Admin would move further away from our position at this point shows that we need everyone to come together to continue to build on the awesome momentum we generated last semester–it’s going to take mass action outside the room to get a fair contract. We’ve already spent over 18 hours in mediated bargaining sessions working on this MOU, and it doesn’t even cost the Administration any money!!!

What Comes Next:

Join us in fighting for a fair contract!

New TA Orientation

Join GEO as we introduce our union to new graduate teachers at New TA Orientation on January 10th from 7:45am–4:45pm and January 11th from 7:45am–1:00pm at Wohlers Hall. GEO’s strength is its members, and you are all the best people to encourage new TAs to join the fight for a fair contract. If you can help out, please add your name to the sign-up sheet. Don’t feel like you need to be a GEO expert to participate. The Stewards’ Council will be facilitating a training on organizing conversations on January 9th at 4:30pm in the GEO office, and we will also have written talking points prepared. We hope you’ll be able to join us!

NEXT BARGAINING SESSION:

The session is tentatively scheduled for Jan 30th, but we’re trying to schedule an additional meeting before then.  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 barg@uigeo.org.

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 geo@uigeo.org 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 geo@uigeo.org.

Follow GEO Online:

Website: www.uigeo.org

Twitter: @geo_uiuc

Facebook: @uigeo @geosolcomm

Instagram: @geo_uiuc

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 Street

McKinley Foundation, Geneva Room

Champaign, IL 61820

Email: geo@uigeo.org

 

Bargaining: 19th Session Summary and Tutor-In Action

***Dec 13th, 2017 — 120 days since our contract expired on August 15!***

Today, the GEO Bargaining Team (BT) and the UIUC Administration held their nineteenth bargaining session / seventh mediation session, which lasted 10 hours.

The Bargaining Team met with Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Wilkins at the start of the session, and worked with Federal Mediators to move forward with the Administration on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) about getting appointment letters out in a more timely fashion. The Admin has made it clear getting out appointment letters on time simply isn’t a priority for them. In fact, the Provost even said, “We know it’s a problem, but I don’t know why we agreed to that in the first place.” Nevertheless, we made some progress in our conversations about the issue and hope to resolve it in our next session.  

Here are some other outlandish quotes from Provost Wilkins:

In regards to the tuition waiver tax designation, Wilkins stated, “Our intent is to mitigate the impact of the bill.” This may sound good, but he wouldn’t provide any specifics as to what they had in mind.

In regards to graduate employees, Wilkins stated that “graduate students are a priority, but there are other priorities, such as building restoration” and “faculty salaries” that are making us less competitive with institutions.

He went on to give us reasons why the University of Illinois had budgetary issues with our economic proposals, claiming that money is “earmarked for certain things.” This is false, and the revenue generated by tuition, fees, and other sources can be allocated to wherever the University administration wants it to go. Our proposals are an incredibly small fraction of the University budget and cost a lot less than unnecessary vanity projects like the renovations to the Illini Union and the new Campus Master Plan.

Let’s show the Administration that we’re not going to accept their regressive proposals and demand better working conditions by showing up in force for the Reading Day Overnight Tutor-In! More info below.

 

What Comes Next:

Join us in fighting for a fair contract!

All Day All Night Tutor-In on Reading Day

On Reading Day (tomorrow, Dec 14th), GEO is holding an all day all night tutor-in action to show our organizing power and our dedication to our undergraduate students. Join us as we work together in solidarity all day and all night to protest for a fair contract, and offer free tutoring to our students!

  • Here is a sign up for this action – please sign up, and get as many of your grad employee friends to sign up as possible! A flyer for this event is attached.  
  • Please invite your students for tutoring! Here is a sample email and here is a flyer to advertise this event to your students. 

We will start our full day tutor-in at 12 pm on Reading Day, Thursday, December 14 in the North Lounge of the Illini Union along with our allies in the NTFC who will be hosting their end-of-semester work-in. Come work in solidarity with your fellow graduate employees, hold office hours, offer tutoring, whatever you’d like! Please come whenever you’re able to between 12 pm and 11 pm, but we ask that you prioritise the hours around 12 pm and 5 pm for the daytime tutoring. Coffee and snacks will be provided throughout the day and dinner will be at 8 pm. Childcare will be provided.

More importantly, at 11 pm, we will begin our overnight tutor-in! Whatever your availability during the day, we want as many graduate employees as possible to come at 11 pm and stay until after the Illini Union closes at midnight. We will stay in the Illini Union until 8 am the next morning and be available for free tutoring to our students all night. We did this in 2012 and the administration allowed us to stay overnight, so we expect this to go the same way. If we are asked to leave, we will leave and ask our students to leave as well.

This action is going to be crucial for showing our power to the Admin and moving the needle during bargaining–and the tutor-in allows us to do so in a way that helps our students! We hope to see many of you there tomorrow. Don’t forget to invite your students too!

NEXT BARGAINING SESSION:

The session is tentatively scheduled for Jan 5th. 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 barg@uigeo.org.

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 geo@uigeo.org 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 geo@uigeo.org.

Follow GEO Online:

Website: www.uigeo.org

Twitter: @geo_uiuc

Facebook: @uigeo @geosolcomm

Instagram: @geo_uiuc

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 Street

McKinley Foundation, Geneva Room

Champaign, IL 61820

Email: geo@uigeo.org

Bargaining: 18th Session Summary and General Membership Meeting on Thursday

***November 30, 2017 — 107 days since our contract expired on August 15!***

Yesterday, the GEO Bargaining Team (BT) and the UIUC Administration held their eighteenth bargaining session / sixth mediation session.

Please read below for more information on what happened yesterday and what comes next.

After an 11-hour bargaining session, we signed a memorandum of understanding forcing the Administration to comply with an arbitration decision from 2016 by reimbursing former graduate employees who were wrongly denied TA positions in 2014 and 2015 and thus forced to pay tuition.These students have graduated, but GEO still fought for their reimbursement–and we won over $100,000 these students were owed. The Administration had fought long and hard to not pay this money back, even refusing to respond to our Grievance Committee’s phone calls and emails, so the fact that we were able to achieve this victory today shows that our organizing efforts have paid off. Let’s keep the momentum going and win our best contract ever!

For more information about the MCS Arbitration, you can read this article in the Public i.

What Comes Next:

Join us in fighting for a fair contract!

General Membership Meeting: Work Actions and Organizing

The meeting will be today, November 30, 6:30-7:30pm, at the Channing Murray Foundation (1209 W Oregon Street, Urbana). Food and childcare will be provided. Come and help GEO get the contract you want! Here is a link to the Facebook event for the GMMs.

We encourage you to make it a priority to attend these weekly GMMs in order for us all to work together to get the contract that we want.

NEXT BARGAINING SESSION:

The session is tentatively scheduled for  Dec. 12th. 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 barg@uigeo.org.

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 geo@uigeo.org 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 geo@uigeo.org.

Follow GEO Online:

Website: www.uigeo.org

Twitter: @geo_uiuc

Facebook: @uigeo @geosolcomm

Instagram: @geo_uiuc

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 Street

McKinley Foundation, Geneva Room

Champaign, IL 61820

Email: geo@uigeo.org

Bargaining: 17th Session Summary and General Membership Meeting on Thursday

***November 7, 2017 — 83 days since our contract expired on August 15!***

Today, the GEO Bargaining Team (BT) and the UIUC Administration held their seventeenth bargaining session / fifth mediation session. Once again, the Administration refused to make substantial movement toward our proposals.

Please read below for more information on what happened today and what comes next.

  • The Administration still wants us to reduce our financial proposals, especially wages, but we refused. They want us to reduce our own proposals rather than giving us meaningful proposals of their own. We’ve provided extensive rationale and data for our proposals justifying our proposals, but they haven’t done the same for us. 
  • The Administration finally indicated some willingness to honor an arbitration decision from January 2016 and pay back some MCS graduates who were denied access to tuition waivers. They are still not willing to pay back all affected graduates, but this is a positive step. We are working to resolve this for as many graduate employees as possible to make sure they get the money they are owed. If you’re interested in learning more about the MCS arbitration, check out this article published in the Public i. 
  • After initially proposing deep cuts to our current language on appointment terms, the Administration has begun to move back towards status quo. However, a lot of work still needs to be done to reach an agreement. The Administration is still pushing us to abandon our ability to grieve late appointment letters. 
  • The Administration is still refusing to acknowledge the importance of our tuition waivers. They have again proposed their earlier side letter that would allow them to reduce tuition waiver protections and undercut our bargaining unit.

What Comes Next: Join us in fighting for a fair contract!

General Membership Meeting: Strike Planning and Mediation Update

The meeting will be on Thursday, November 9, 6:30-7:30pm, at the Channing Murray Foundation (1209 W Oregon Street, Urbana). Food and childcare will be provided. Come and help GEO get the contract you want! Here is a link to the Facebook event for the GMMs.

We encourage you to make it a priority to attend these weekly GMMs in order for us all to work together to get the contract that we want.

NEXT BARGAINING SESSION:

The session is tentatively scheduled for November 16th. 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 barg@uigeo.org.

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 geo@uigeo.org 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 geo@uigeo.org.

Follow GEO Online:

Website: www.uigeo.org

Twitter: @geo_uiuc

Facebook: @uigeo @geosolcomm

Instagram: @geo_uiuc

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.

 

16th Session Summary, Rally, and Strike Vote at General Membership Meeting on Thursday

***October 31, 2017 — 77 days since our contract expired on August 15!***

Today, the GEO Bargaining Team (BT) and the UIUC Administration held their sixteenth bargaining session / fourth mediation session, which was the longest session yet. Once again, the Administration refused to make substantial movement toward our proposals. Now it’s time to get organized to take serious action to show them we mean business–including gearing up for a strike.

Please read below for more information on what happened today and what comes next.

  • We stayed to bargain; the Administration left. We are ready to bargain anywhere, anytime, but a little after 5pm, the Administration said they were done for the day rather than responding to the latest proposal we sent them.

  • We made movement on multiple issues, but the Administration did not respond in any substantive way. Our proposal included health care, child care, appointment terms, and fee waiver. The Administration’s response fails to address the working conditions and financial reality that graduate employees face. Their proposal ended up the same as last week’s except for a tiny $50 increase to already flawed health care language after 8 hours of bargaining. It does not guarantee tuition waivers, offers only a 1% raise in the first year of a five year contract and no guaranteed raises after, and leaves graduate employees paying more for their health insurance in the long term. It offers no stipend for parents, no fee waiver or guarantee that the cost of fees won’t go up, and takes away any deadline for the Administration to send appointment letters. What they are offering not only doesn’t provide us with any gains, it takes away rights from our current contract.

  • We wanted to talk about appointment letters and how 95% of them are late, but the Administration refused to have meaningful conversation about it. They stuck to their assertion that it was “operationally difficult” for them to fulfill the agreement they made with us. We offered a compromise through a letter that would notify employees if their appointment letter was going to be late, but even that letter was deemed “operationally difficult.” Not only are they unwilling to tell you the specifics of your job 60 days in advance, they’re not willing to tell you if you’ll have a job at all.

What Comes Next:

General Membership Meeting: Strike Vote Results

Our General Membership meeting this week is CRUCIAL, as we’ll be providing information about the Admin’s proposal and presenting the results of our strike vote. The meeting will be Thursday, 6:30-7:30pm, at the Channing Murray Foundation (1209 W Oregon Street, Urbana). Food and childcare will be provided. Come and help GEO get the contract you want! Here is a link to the Facebook event for the GMMs.

In addition to discussing the strike vote, we will also discuss the logistics of preparing for a strike and how to talk to your department about a potential strike.

We encourage you to make it a priority to attend these weekly GMMs in order for us all to work together to get the contract that we want.

NEXT BARGAINING SESSION: Tuesday, November 7, 2017, at 9:00am. We have not decided on an end time, but plan to go several hours longer than our usual end time of 1:00pm. The session location has yet to be finalized. 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 barg@uigeo.org. You can also find more info about bargaining on our website.

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 geo@uigeo.org 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 geo@uigeo.org.

Follow GEO Online:

Website: www.uigeo.org

Twitter: @geo_uiuc

Facebook: @uigeo @geosolcomm

Instagram: @geo_uiuc

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.

McKinley Foundation, Geneva Room

Champaign, IL 61820

Phone: 217-344-8283

Email: geo@uigeo.org

What You Need to Know About A Possible Strike, October 31, 2017

***October 31, 2017 — 77 days since our contract expired on August 15th***

Strike Authorization Voting Information

At our last General Membership Meeting (GMM) we began a strike authorization vote. Should this vote pass, that does not mean we have to go on strike–but it empowers our Strike Committee to make that decision if necessary. We need all members to make their voice heard! You can vote in person or online. If you haven’t received an online voting link, please email geo@uigeo.org. If you vote online, do not vote at a polling place, and vice versa. Only vote once! We’ll announce the results at our next GMM, Thursday, from 6:30pm-7:30pm.

Additionally, polling stations will be open from 9:00am-5:00pm on Tuesday and Wednesday at the following locations:

  • GEO Office (809 S 5th St, Geneva Room, Champaign)

  • English Building (608 S Wright St, Urbana, Mary Kay Peer Lounge, in building basement)

  • Loomis Laboratory (1110 W Green, Champaign, front lobby outside Room 141)

  • Education Building (1310 S 6th St, Champaign, 1st floor lobby)

There will be pop-up polling places too:

  • Beckman Institute, Room 1005, Tuesday from 4:00pm-6:00pm

  • Lincoln Hall, Department of Sociology, 702 S Wright St, 3rd floor, Tuesday 3:00 to 5:00pm

If a strike is authorized, will I be compelled to go on strike?

The GEO will not compel anyone to go on strike but we hope that you will join us, since these negotiations affect all of us and it will take all of us to be successful this bargaining cycle.

Link to the Strike Manual

In the event of a strike, the strike manual outlines how the strike will function, what your role would be, and what plans the GEO has in place to help striking workers should their wages or health insurance be impacted. Since retaliation is often a major concern for striking workers, we have outlined below how you can prevent retaliation and what steps to take if it happens to you–all this info and more is in the manual!.

Retaliation

What is retaliation? Any instance where your employment conditions are changed or decisions about your employment are made in retribution for activity with a union is considered retaliation. All forms of retaliation are illegal, with the exception of the withholding of pay for the time in which you withhold your labor.

Will my wages be withheld if I strike? The University Administration has the legal right to withhold wages from employees who are withholding their labor on strike. Many departments do not keep track of who goes on strike and will not reporting striking members to the Administration, though we can’t guarantee that all departments will do so. It’s a good idea to talk to department heads ahead of time to ask for support during the strike–you should reach out to your department steward to see if this has been done.

Who will help me if my wages are withheld? In the event of a strike, GEO members can vote to set aside money from the general budget for a strike fund, part of which would be used to help pay back a percentage of lost wages in the event wages are withheld, in exchange for walking the picket line. GEO would also ask its parent union, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), to subsidize small loans for striking members.

Will I be fired for withholding my labor? Members participating in a legal work action can’t be fired as long as a contract settlement is reached. In the case of a lock out, the Administration is legally required to rehire workers when negotiations are complete. The Administration is allowed to fire the entire bargaining unit and hire new adjunct workers under a new contract, but this is very unlikely given that adjuncts are paid more than grad workers, and it would be difficult to find 2,500 people with our same specializations.

What about international students? International students have the same legal protections as all other members of our bargaining unit. They are protected from illegal acts of retaliation and have the same ability to file grievances as domestic students.

What can be done to prevent retaliation? If retaliation does occur it will likely be at the departmental level. To prevent this, it is important to reach out to faculty and staff prior to a strike. Even the act of threatening to retaliate is illegal, so please document any instances of this thoroughly and report it to the GEO Grievance Committee (grievance@uigeo.org).

What if retaliation occurs? In the event that illegal acts of retaliation occur against striking grad workers the GEO can file an Unfair Labor Practice Charge with the state Labor Board. These procedures can take time, but act as another deterrent against retaliation behavior.

What should I do if I believe that I am being retaliated against? First, document everything as thoroughly as possible: take notes, ask for written statements from the supervisor that is making the decision, including an explanation of why this decision was made; and request a witness, preferable a union representative, for conversations concerning the action. Second, contact the union and discuss this situation with the grievance committee. The sooner this happens, the easier it is to right any wrongs committed against you.

How to talk to Faculty about a Strike

Make sure they know the basics. Make sure faculty know what the GEO is, that we are negotiating our contract, and what our four pillars are (Living Wage, Health Care, Access and Equality, and Protection for Tuition Waivers).

Make sure they know the numbers. Make it clear that the University is NOT broke, and that their misplaced priorities are hurting both students AND faculty. Additionally, point out that we are asking for a small raise to keep up with the rising cost of living in Champaign-Urbana, and explain to them the burden imposed on us by fees, health care costs, and child care costs. If they do not already know, tell them why tuition waivers are important for students and for the prestige of their own departments. Likely, they understand that tuition waivers are used to compete for the best students.

If your faculty members seem supportive, let them know there are ways that they can help. Here is a link to a template letter (which they can modify) you can ask faculty and other supportive parties to sign and send to the Provost expressing their support for the GEO. Faculty can also help by supporting the GEO on the picket line, wearing GEO buttons, and moving their classes out of targeted buildings in the event of a strike. You can also tell them to talk to other faculty and explain why they should support the GEO.

How to Talk to Your Students

Do not tell them about union activity during class time. This could be construed as an ethics violation. You are certainly welcome to make an announcement that for any students who are interested in learning about a possible strike and what’s going on, you would be happy to speak to them after class.

Tell them about our financial situation. Many students simply don’t know what the financial reality of graduate employees is, and are sympathetic when they learn.

Remind them that our working conditions are their learning conditions. We can’t be the best teachers we can be if we are stressing about our ability to make ends meet, or are putting off taking care of our health because we can’t afford to go to the doctor. Besides, a more competitive contract means we can attract the best graduate employees to campus, so they’ll have the best possible teachers.

Remind them that we care about them and have done everything possible to avoid a strike. Our proposals are reasonable and backed up by research and rationale. We’ve shown ourselves to be willing to compromise and work with the Administration. But if a strike is the only way we can be heard by the Administration and protect our membership, we have to be prepared to do so.

How to Get Involved

If you haven’t had much time to get involved with GEO in the last few months, now is the time to join in! In the event of a strike we will need hard commits from people to serve as picket captains and to sign up for shifts on the picket line. If we strike, we need as many people as possible out to show the Administration our strength and that we won’t back down until we get a fair contract.

The Administration’s Spin on Negotiations

On the University’s Human Resources website, the Administration’s bargaining team has been creating little blurbs to document contract negotiations. Their summaries of negotiations are, of course, framed to show the University in the best light. For example, one of their posts celebrates that we were able to reach an agreement on non-discrimination language. What it doesn’t say is that they fought for weeks against expanding our non-discrimination clause, and refused to consider adding certain protected categories to our contract. This website also tries to make it appear that graduate employees are much better off financially than is the case, by, for example, obfuscating the numbers or counting the cost of our waived tuition as part of our wages. The fact remains that the minimum annual salary for a graduate employees at a 50% appointment is $16,360.

These updates are on the website in order to put the University in the best light possible and make us seem unreasonable. When faculty and staff learn of GEO’s efforts, they may be tempted to visit this website and take the Administration at their word. Given this, we must be ready to clarify the reality of the situation when our departments reference these summaries.

CONNECT WITH GEO!

Website: www.uigeo.org

Twitter: @geo_uiuc

Facebook: @uigeo  @geosolcomm

Instagram: @geo_uiuc


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

Strike Authorization Voting Information | October 29, 2017

***October 29, 2017 — 75 days since our contract expired on August 15th***

At our last General Membership Meeting (GMM), in response to the Admin’s proposal on Tuesday which would not provide wages increases that would keep up with inflation; would make our healthcare much more expensive; would make grad employees continue paying around $1,000 a year in fees, with no guarantee they wouldn’t go up; offers no child care resources for parents; and opens the door for the reduction or elimination of tuition waiver programs, we began a strike authorization vote. Should this vote pass, that does not mean we have to go on strike–but it empowers our Strike Committee to make that decision if necessary. We need all members to make their voice heard!

How long is the strike authorization voting?

Strike authorization voting will continue through 5:00pm on Wednesday, November 1, 2017.

Who is eligible to vote?

All GEO members are eligible to vote. If you are not a card-signed member of the GEO, you can sign a membership card at a physical voting location or at the GEO office and immediately become eligible to vote.

How can I vote?

Voting is online and at physical locations around campus and at the GEO office. If you’re a member then you should have received a link to vote, but if you didn’t, please email geo@uigeo.org for a link to the online voting form. If you vote online, do not vote at a polling place, and vice versa. Only vote once!

Polling places will be open from 9:00am-5:00pm Monday through Wednesday at the following locations:

  • GEO Office (809 S 5th St, Geneva Room, Champaign)
  • English Building (608 S Wright St, Urbana, Mary Kay Peer Lounge, in building basement)
  • Loomis Laboratory (1110 W Green, Champaign, front lobby outside Room 141)
  • Education Building (1310 S 6th St, Champaign, 1st floor lobby)

Additionally, there will be pop-up polling places:

  • Beckman Institute, Atrium, Tuesday from 4:00pm-6:00pm
  • Foreign Language Building, Atrium, Monday 9:00am-5:00pm
  • Chemical and Life Sciences Laboratory, Check GEO’s social media for poll time and location or email geo@uigeo.org.

When will the results be announced?

The results of the strike authorization vote will be announced to members at the GMM on Thursday, November 2, 6:30-7:30pm, at the Channing Murray Foundation (1209 W Oregon Street, Urbana). Food and childcare will be provided. Come and help GEO get the contract you want! Here is a link to the Facebook event for the GMMs.

What is involved in striking? Who can strike? I have a lot of questions about striking!

We will send an email to members later this week with more information about what a strike would look like, should we choose to go on strike. We’ll also make our Strike Manual available soon. Check your email and our website in a few days! If we choose to authorize a strike, then we will also discuss the logistics of a strike at the GMM on Thursday, November 2, 6:30-7:30pm, at the Channing Murray Foundation (1209 W Oregon Street, Urbana). Food and childcare will be provided. Here is a link to the Facebook event for the GMMs.

 


 

CONNECT WITH GEO!

Website: www.uigeo.org

Twitter: @geo_uiuc

Facebook: @uigeo  @geosolcomm

Instagram: @geo_uiuc


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

Phone: 217-344-8283

Email: geo@uigeo.org