At 10:05 pm, Provost Easter of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign issued a massmail spreading further misinformation about the GEO’s imminent strike. The GEO will officially respond here – please distribute widely. Also, our press release in the post just below this contains a more detailed response to Easter’s misleading claims.
In his email, Easter says that:
“The university community is committed to providing the most competitive tuition waivers possible.Contrary to GEO assertions, the university has no plans to change current policy on tuition waivers. Tuition waivers are governed by the General Rules established by the Board of Trustees. The university has assured the GEO it will bargain the impact of any change to the fee waiver policy in the unlikely event that a change is proposed.”
As we demonstrate in the press release below, Easter’s claims are misleading at best. The BOT rules only protect in-state tuition waivers. If the University is “committed to providing the most competitive tuition waivers possible,” then what possible reason could they have for rejecting the GEO’s proposed side letter on waivers?* The last contract proposal from the University administration would provide no protection for waivers if the University administration moved to change some or all of out of state waivers to in-state tuition. Failure to accept the GEO’s much more explicit wording, which would protect tuition waivers as they currently exist, demonstrates a distressing lack of commitment on the part of the University administration to the U of I’s mission as a public, land grant university that provides high quality, acceptable education.
Easter also says that
“We are hopeful that the union members will accept the university’s offer, which represents the best possible package for graduate students within the difficult financial constraints we currently face.”
What Easter fails to mention is that sufficient protection for tuition waivers, the only issue that the GEO will go on strike over, represents zero additional cost to the University administration.
When members of the GEO and their allies walk the picket lines tomorrow morning, they will do so because they refuse to allow this sort of misinformation to sway them from their goal of earning a fair contract and finally holding the administration of the University of Illinois accountable to its duties as the leadership of a public, land grant, Research 1 University.
The University’s proposed side letter on waivers states that the “university will bargain the impact of any change by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois to the graduate assistant tuition waiver policy set forth in Article IV, Section 5, of the General Rules Concerning University Organization and Procedures.” Article IV, Section 5 only guarantees in-state tuition waivers. Thus, the administration side letter only promises to bargain the impact of eliminating in-state tuition waivers. The full text of this article is below.*
The GEO’s proposed side letter reads: “The Union recognizes the Board of Trustees’ right to set tuition waiver policy in accordance with its practices of shared governance. During the term of this Agreement, the University will bargain in good faith with the Union any changes in the tuition waivers of any bargaining unit member or members.”