Statement in Response to Presidential Election

November 14, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

GEO at UIUC Statement in Response to Presidential Election

Last Tuesday, we witnessed the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America. Trump’s presidential campaign was built on homophobic, Islamophobic, misogynist, racist, sexist, and xenophobic language. The condoning of such hate by election is an active threat to civil rights and civil liberties for all. We, the Graduate Employees’ Organization at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, are outraged at the election of a leader who has openly campaigned against the livelihoods and safety of their own constituents.

We, the GEO-UIUC, have fought and continue to fight for affordable child care, accessible health care, gender justice, job training, living wages, protecting employees from retaliation, reasonable workloads, tuition waivers, and workplace safety for all graduate employees regardless of race, gender, religion, ability, sexual orientation, citizenship status, department, job category, or membership in the union. We, the GEO-UIUC, strive to be an inclusive and open environment that acts in the best interests of graduate employees, and act responsibly toward the entire university community.

Most importantly, to support all graduate employees so that they can work with dignity and respect, the GEO-UIUC has fought and continues to fight for a good work environment for all. We recognize that a work environment free from hostility and discrimination is a necessary prerequisite not only for improving the quality of education and research at UIUC, but also ensuring the livelihoods and safety of all graduate employees that directly contribute to this mission.

We, the GEO-UIUC, stand in direct opposition to the hate, fear, open hostility, and violence that has been targeted at Black, Disabled, Latinx, Immigrant, International, LGBTQIA+, Muslim, Native American, Neurodiverse, Undocumented, and Women-identified peoples. We, the GEO-UIUC, stand with all peoples of these communities, as members, allies and advocates living, loving, and working in solidarity.

We, the GEO-UIUC, will continue to fight for all graduate employees’ civil rights and civil liberties to ensure a good work environment free from hostility and discrimination. It is not enough to circulate a mass-mail with truisms such as “we are a community defined by how we treat one another and by our willingness to focus on how we move forward together.” The UIUC administration needs to take action and publicly condemn acts of violence and intimidation against their constituents.

We will not back down. We will not be silent. We’ve got your backs. Every single one.

In solidarity,
GEO

Take the GEO Bargaining Survey

take-the-geo-bargaining-survey

As a graduate employee, what issues are important to you? The GEO wants to know! As we continue to get closer to bargaining, the Bargaining Research Committee is asking for signed and bargaining unit members to take the Bargaining Survey.  Letting us know your thoughts and experiences as a graduate employee helps us to fully represent the needs and wants of our members in bargaining.

Please check your email for a link. If you have not received a link,  please email geo@uigeo.org

GEO Contract Convention, October 29th.

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Register HERE!

The Information

On October 29, 2016, the GEO will come together to begin enacting our future.  Join us for a day of solidarity, training, and information, as we  prepare to bargain next semester with the administration of the University of Illinois.  During this half-day convention we will discuss our upcoming bargaining and create specific goals for our next contract; learn how to engage with our colleagues about our union and inform them about how the GEO is there for them; brainstorm on possible activities and actions we can take to leverage our position; and come together to ensure a fair and equatable work place.  Lunch will be provided.

For more information, head over to our convention page.

Welcome Back!

Hi members old and new,

Welcome to the University of Illinois, and most importantly welcome to the Graduate Employees’ Organization, your labor Union.

Whether you’ve been at the U of I for a while, or just starting graduate school, you arrive to campus at a crucial moment for graduate employees. Our current contract with the University of Illinois expires during the Fall of 2017, so we will be preparing and organizing for bargaining.

If you want to find out ways to get involved, please join us at one of the events below, email us at geo@uigeo.org, or contact one of our officers directly. There are plenty of ways to get involved!

GEO Welcome Back Party on Friday, September 2 at Pizza M (208 W. Main, Urbana) for a night of free food, free drinks, and free solidarity.  The party takes place from 9 pm to 1 am.

General Membership Meeting of the year on Wednesday, September 14, starting at 5:30 pm.  Food, drinks, and childcare will be provided.  Location:  University YMCA Latzer Hall.
Finally, don’t forget the GEO Unofficial Guide to Chambana located right HERE!

Union strong,

David and Shawn

Co-Presidents

CC Retreat was a success!

On Tuesday May 19, 2016, the Coordinating Committee and Stewards’ Council Co-Chairs spent the afternoon hashing out ideas for the 2016-2017 academic year. We have a lot of ideas, events, and activities that we can’t wait to share with you! We think it’s going to be a great year!

As always, if you have any suggestions, ideas, or concerns, please reach out to us at geo@uigeo.org or drop by the office. We’d love to hear from you!

CC Retreat

Another Successful GEO Party

This year we had another great GEO party, but it couldn’t have happened without the help of a lot of people.

A huge thank you to Pizza-M for your service last night. We greatly appreciate your time, dedication, and professionalism. You help make our parties great. GEO members, next time you see the good people at Pizza M, be sure to tell them thank you.

To all the volunteers, thank you, especially the Stewards Council Co-Chairs past and present (Shawn Fields, Sara Roncero-Menendez, Xander Hazel, and Christian A. Millan Hernandez). Your work made the party possible. Juan Andrés Suárez thank you for keeping us entertained all night with your playlist.

To our staff, we couldn’t do this without you. Members, next time you seeAndrea Herrera Orrala, Anna Machalski, Chey Teresi, and Paul, please tell them how much you appreciate their work on this event and everything else. Although Natalie Uhl Nagel couldn’t make it to the party, she deserves a shoutout for all the work she does to make this union run.

Finally, last but not least, thank you, members. Thank you for the work you do for the university, for your students, for your departments, and for your Union. This is all for you.

 

volunteers Sarah & Ben Party pic 1 party 2 party 3 party 4 party 5 party 6

An Open Letter to President Killeen

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Dear President Killeen,

I was struck by your decision to stop by and visit with the NTFC members working outside your office. You may be wondering why the NTFC members are striking again. After all didn’t negotiations just start today? Being from SUNY and new to UIUC, you may not be familiar with our history with crooked administrators.

Former UIUC President Michael Hogan raised his salary to more than $100,000 dollars more than his predecessor. He alienated faculty by increasing the role of University administration. Hogan resigned in 2012 after over 200 professors, including endowed chairs and distinguished professors called for his removal. He was followed by Robert Easter, known as “the accidental president.”

Our troubles didn’t end there. Last year, Phyllis Wise resigned amid a controversy over the use of her personal email for University-related communications, in violation of Illinois law. This was following “external issues” that had plagued the end of her tenure. Steven Salaita had been preparing to move to Illinois to join the faculty at UIUC, but was informed by Chancellor Wise in August of 2015 that his position would not be recommended for approval by the Board of Trustees. This resulted in censure by the American Association of University Professors and national embarrassment.

The Athletics Department has also been subject to scandals. Former head coach Matt Bollant was accused of abusing female basketball players verbally and harassing them. Although parents submitted letters describing the abuse, the Office of Diversity, Equity, Access, and Human Resources found no violation of laws or University policy. Similarly, after allegations of abuse by players, former football coach Tim Beckman was fired. Although Beckman was fired for forcing injured players to play, UIUC had to pay him $250,000 because he was “wrongful[ly] terminated.”
These scandals aren’t only present at the executive level. The GEO has been meeting about two different arbitrations this year. In one of the arbitrations, the arbitrator ruled that the University needed to provide the GEO with reasons why appointment letters were sent beyond the deadline in the contract. However, in a meeting with the GEO, Craig Hoefer, a University counsel, stated, “Even if we were able to issue you all the letters there’s not going to be much in the way of damages.” Late appointment letters mean that graduate employees face months of uncertainty about their employment, leading to stress; however, all Hoefer sees it is a financial decision that affects the University’s bottom line. Late appointment letters also make it difficult to make financial decisions like signing a lease and may make it difficult for international students to get a visa.

Similarly, NTFC is asking for multi-year contracts for stability for their members and their families, as well as their students. Although the University claims that multi-year contracts are already University policy, most NTFC faculty who are eligible do not have multi-year appointments. Likewise, the GEO contract specifies when departments should send appointment letters to graduate employees, yet the University does not want to abide by the agreement. University officials at all levels seem to balk at anything beyond discussing “principles.” If the University can’t make strides to abide by policies already in place, why should we trust administrators?

President Killeen, I think you’re a trustworthy administrator, but it’s hard to trust you because we know the people you work with. Despite the teaching and research done by NTFC and GEO members, the administration doesn’t honor agreements already in place. It’s hard to trust people who don’t respect your work. If your administration respects our work, then they need to show us.

Describing an interaction between a scientist and a member of the public, Stephen Hawking stated, “A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: ‘What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.’ The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, ‘What is the tortoise standing on?’ ‘You’re very clever, young man, very clever,’ said the old lady. ‘But it’s turtles all the way down!’” Right now, the evidence shows us that the administration is crooked administrators all the way down. Maybe this isn’t true, but we have no reason to believe otherwise. All the evidence shows that the administration does not respect us. They are late to meetings. They do not respond to emails for days or weeks. They claim that University policy works when the evidence shows that it doesn’t. If you want us to trust you, you need to give us a reason.

Sincerely,

A concerned graduate student and member of the University community