Explanation of the GEO Budget
Why do we pay the IFT, AFT, and AFL-CIO?
The GEO is part of the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and the AFL-CIO. The money we pay to these organizations allows the GEO to utilize resources that are shared by all affiliated local unions. Examples of how our affiliates have helped include:
- Bargaining support: We have an IFT negotiations expert at every bargaining session with the UI administration. S/he helps train our bargaining team and provides valuable insight during the process.
- National Influence: Through the AFT, graduate unions are working with a coalition of other organizations to defend academic freedom and to promote shared governance on campuses across the country.
- Legal: The GEO has repeatedly used the IFT legal counsel to secure collective bargaining rights. Furthermore, IFT has filed unfair labor practices with the Labor Board on GEO’s behalf.
- Legal / Contract Enforcement: GEO has a legal obligation to represent all employees in grievances regardless of their membership status. All employees in the bargaining unit can file grievances, some of which may be heard in third party arbitration. Arbitration is an expensive process but it is a step we need to be prepared to take when necessary. As a member of the IFT Local Legal Trust, our arbitration costs are fully funded.
- Lobbying: The IFT helped to pass a bill through the state legislature to ensure collective bargaining rights for grad employees at public institutions in Illinois. The state AFL-CIO helped change state law to allow the spouse or dependent of international students/employees to obtain drivers licenses. This directly affects a number of GEO members.
- Recognition fight: The IFT supported the GEO through its decade-long struggle to unionize this campus. They provided us with vital financial, legal, and political resources. The IFT paid all legal fees when the GEO took its recognition suit to the Illinois State Supreme Court! The local AFL-CIO helped organize religious leaders in the community to pressure the UI to allow grad employees to choose union representation.
- Education: The AFT finances 2 conferences per year where grad unionists can come together and share bargaining and organizing resources.
There are many aspects to a thriving union. It is critical that we have the following:
- A qualified permanent staff that can help coordinate membership drives, keep in touch with stewards, help employees with grievances, and generally coordinate GEO activists.
- Contingency Fund: The GEO sets aside funds that may be required to handle unforeseen circumstances. A dispute with the University that led to a strike might bankrupt the GEO unless we keep money ready to meet the challenge.
- Organizing: A successful union must have a strong and active membership. The GEO is well known for its fun events, but these events are not just about having fun. They serve as important avenues for increasing our membership and getting out our message.
- Office: These funds provide for the day-to-day operations of the GEO. The GEO pays rent for offices in the University YMCA. In addition, there are the regular expenses of maintaining an office: phone lines, copy toner, Internet service, etc.
- Contract Bargaining: Clearly, bargaining is a central part of this year?s activities. Training and consulting specific to bargaining as well as materials needed for contract ratification will be covered with these funds.
- Training: Maintaining a dynamic and effective union requires leadership training as well as instruction on the specific tasks such as grievance handling, financial management and coalition-building.