HOUSE RESOLUTION 0522

(passed November 27, 2001)
WHEREAS, The University of Illinois is a public institution, is accountable to the citizens of the State of Illinois, and has a responsibility to maintain stability and a high level of quality at our prized State institution; and
WHEREAS, The more than 5,000 graduate employees at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are indispensable members of the University as they teach nearly half of all introductory level courses, run laboratories and libraries, perform essential research that has established and maintained the University’s excellent reputation, and perform many other services vital to the University and the State; and
WHEREAS, Graduate students employed by the University as teaching assistants, research assistants, and graduate assistants formed the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) to provide a voice for graduate employees in employment policies through union representation and collective bargaining; and
WHEREAS, Graduate employees at the University have demonstrated overwhelming support for union representation, with 3,226 graduate employees signing petitions in 1996 requesting the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board to conduct a union election and 64% of those voting in a representation election conducted in 1997 by local religious leaders voting for the GEO as their bargaining representative; and
WHEREAS, The University administration refuses to recognize the results of this election, refuses to voluntarily recognize the GEO, and has spent hundreds of thousands of public tax dollars fighting a legally binding election to allow graduate students to decide whether they want union representation; and
WHEREAS, The Illinois Appellate Court and the Illinois Supreme Court both affirmed the right of graduate employees to choose union representation; and
WHEREAS, Five years after filing a petition with the labor board seeking the right to vote on whether they want union representation, graduate employees still have not had an election and the University administration continues to engage in costly legal maneuvers designed to deny most graduate employees this fundamental right; and
WHEREAS, The GEO has exhausted all legal and diplomatic channels to improve their working conditions and secure union recognition, and, as a result, graduate employees have voted to withhold their labor from the University; and
WHEREAS, A work stoppage will disrupt the normal operations of the University and will have a negative impact on undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and the University as a whole; and
WHEREAS, Respecting the freedom to form a union is essential to establishing a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship between the administration of the University and its graduate employees; therefore, be it
RESOLVED, BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE NINETY-SECOND GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, that we urge the University of Illinois administration and the Board of Trustees to respect the right of graduate employees to organize and bargain collectively; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we urge the University administration and the Board of Trustees to remain neutral and comply with the decision of their graduate employees regarding union representation and to refrain from engaging in an activity, written or verbal, designed to interfere with the free choice to join a union; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we call upon the Board of Trustees and the Graduate Employees’ Organization to meet immediately and reach agreement on the terms of collective bargaining, including, but not limited to, the parameters of a collective bargaining unit and the scope of issues to be dealt with; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we urge the University administration, the Board of Trustees, and the Graduate Employees’ Organization to bargain in good faith and in the best interests of graduate employees and the university as a whole; and be it further
RESOLVED, That suitable copies of this resolution be delivered to the University of Illinois President, Chancellor, and Board of Trustees and the Graduate Employees’ Organization.