BARGAINING, Announcements, Events, and Updates June 1, 2017


Table of Contents:

    • Fifth Bargaining Session
      • Ways to be Involved with Bargaining
      • Call for Testimonials
    • Call for RAs Interested in Organizing
    • The Nurses’ Union is Hiring!
    • Wear It Wednesday
    • The Importance of Organizing as a Graduate Student: A GEO Informational Event
    • Healthcare Town Hall
    • Grievance Committee
    • Stewards’ Council
    • Communications Committee
    • Solidarity Committee
    • Coordinating Committee
    • Health Care Working Group




Greetings GEO Family,

As summer commences, we face many challenges at the national, state, and local level that require our full membership’s attention. The federal government proposed to cut $9.2 billion dollars from public education while Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner refuses to implement a state budget, holding the income, health, and lives of millions of workers at stake. Concurrently, the University of Illinois administration has refused to offer us a full comprehensive proposal in bargaining and explicitly stated their desire to alter our tuition waiver protection language in the upcoming contract. We must organize around the reality that these three struggles inform one another and provide a harrowing portrayal of anti-education and anti-worker policy and discourse at every level of our society.

GEO family, only we, in solidarity with other workers and community members, can effectively counter all attempts to regress our social and material conditions. In order for us to strengthen our union and protect our ability to survive as graduate employees at the University of Illinois, we must continue to have deep discussions regarding this threefold attack and empower each other to share ideas and actions with our various GEO committees. These organizing methods strengthen both our power as graduate employees and worker power statewide while also demonstrating to the UIUC administration that we will not allow any regression of our working conditions. As we continue bargaining, we will insist on the expansion of our rights, particularly the elimination of fees, quality health care, and the promotion of access and equality. We must hold each other accountable and commit to fight so that the university recognizes  graduate employees as instrumental to the operations of our school and communities. Remember GEO family: The University ONLY exists and works because WE DO.

A Luta Continua (The Struggle Continues),

Marília Corrêa and Augustus Wood
Graduate Employees’ Organization, Local 6300 IFT/AFT AFL-CIO




Fifth Bargaining Session

GEO’s fifth bargaining session with the UIUC administration will be on Tuesday, June 6, 9:00am-12:00pm, at the Illinois Fire Service Institute (11 Gerty Dr, Champaign, IL). All members are welcome! Refreshments will be provided for members in attendance.

Come to the bargaining session to see how the Administration responds to us!

Directions and Travel Information to Fire Service Institute (FSI):

  • Carpool: the Bargaining Team has organized a carpool for members. If want to attend and need a ride, please email Carpools will travel between the GEO Office and FSI. Please let us know a few days in advance if you’d like a ride.
  • Parking: it is free to park in the designated visitor section of the FSI lot.
  • Bike: there are at least two bike racks available in front of the FSI main building.
  • Bus: the bus line is 1 Yellow and drops off in front of the Water Survey building.

Here’s a link to the Facebook event for the fifth bargaining session.

If you can’t make it to the bargaining session, you can still keep up with bargaining updates by attending GEO committee meetings and general membership meetings, following GEO on social media, and reading GEO emails.

Here are summaries of our fourth (May 23), third (May 2), second (April 17), and first (March 30) bargaining sessions.

Join the Bargaining Team at their next meeting on Thursday, June 1, 5:00-7:00pm, and on Friday, June 9, 1:00-3:00pm, at the GEO Office. All members are welcome!

See the GEO event calendar for future Bargaining Team meetings, bargaining sessions, and other events. Add it to your Google calendar by searching for Bargaining Team meetings and bargaining sessions are open to all members. Please contact the Bargaining Team ( with any questions.


Call for Testimonials

One powerful tool in bargaining is member stories, and we want to hear from you! If you have a story related to our contract, email to share it with the Bargaining Team.

Our pillars of bargaining are protecting tuition waivers, raising wages and eliminating fees, ensuring quality healthcare, and promoting access and equality, which includes creating childcare support, strengthening our nondiscrimination statement, and expanding parental, bereavement, and visa/immigration leave. If you have an experience to share about these (or other!) issues, please consider coming to the bargaining sessions and voicing it. If you do not feel comfortable speaking in the session, that is OK too. With your permission, someone else can read your written statement without mentioning you as the author. You can indicate to the Bargaining Team how you want your story shared.


Call for RAs Interested in Organizing

We are looking to form a group of research assistants (RAs) interested in organizing! Although RAs are legally excluded from GEO’s bargaining unit, and thus contract with the university, they can still be GEO members — and by working together, improve conditions for RAs across the university. If you are an RA interested in researching ways to organize and create change at the university, please contact Zoë MacDowell Kaswan at


The Nurses’ Union is Hiring!

Immediate Openings: California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU)

Online application for Union Staff:

CNA/NNU is now hiring committed staff for ground breaking organizing campaigns and dynamic representational efforts nationwide. The National Nurses United has been recognized as the most valuable national union by the Nation Magazine’s John Nichols for fearless social unionism that gets results. Help transform the market-driven healthcare industry in the United States into a health care system based on patient need by building a national movement for Registered Nurse power. NNU is a social movement union committed to building a movement of nurses and community to win social and economic justice through our Main Street Campaign and Robin Hood Tax (a federal bill sponsored by Bernie Sanders and Keith Ellison).

PS–If you know any PhDs who are experienced educators, they are also hiring and training talented instructors to educate nurses about healthcare restructuring and political economy as well as researchers



See a full schedule of GEO meetings and events here, and contact with any questions.


Wear your GEO shirt or pin on Wednesday for “Wear it Wednesday”! Take a photo and post it with the tag #WearItWednesday to share with us on Instagram or Twitter.


The Importance of Organizing as a Graduate Student: A GEO Informational Event
Wednesday, June 14th, 12:00pm
Roger Adams Laboratory (RAL) 116

Graduate students who work as Teaching Assistants (TAs) and Graduate Assistants (GAs) have minimum wages set, rights protected, and more, through the contract that GEO has negotiated with the University–and is bargaining to improve now! GEO’s contract also sets the standards for the contracts offered to Research Assistants (RAs), but since RAs aren’t protected by a broader contract they often face much more variable treatment by the University, their programs, and their individual advisors. This event will teach you how organizing–both within and outside of forming a contract with the university–helps to create better working conditions and raise the standard of living for all graduate students; how the GEO contract benefits you when you’re working as a TA/GA and as an RA, the current bargaining process, and how RAs can start organizing to make things better for themselves. Here is the Facebook invitation to the event.

This event is designed for STEM graduate students who primarily work as RAs and may not know much about GEO. As always, however, all are welcome to attend. Food and drink will be provided.


Healthcare Town Hall

Do you have questions about healthcare? GEO is ready to answer them! Come to our town hall meeting on University health care coverage for graduate students, Wednesday, July 19th, 4:00-6:00pm, at the Asian American Cultural Center Lounge (1210 W Nevada St., Urbana, IL 61801). Free food will be provided! Here is the link to the Facebook invitation to the Healthcare Town Hall.






Grievance Committee (GC):

A contract is only as good as our ability to enforce it. The Grievance Committee is responsible for advocating for fair labor practices at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and protecting graduate employees from abuse… and we need your help! Join the Grievance Committee for an opportunity to have a lasting impact on the lives of your peers all across campus. The next meeting is on Tuesday, June 6, 7:00-8:00 at the GEO Office.


Our Collective Bargaining Agreement protects members of the Bargaining Unit from being overworked? You can refer to your appointment letter for information on the maximum number of hours you can be asked to work per week. If you are consistently being asked to work more than your appointment letter specifies, remain calm! Complete the work you were asked to perform, but take detailed notes and contact the Grievance Committee for advice about how to raise the issue to your employment supervisor. See Article VII in the GEO’s Collective Bargaining Agreement for more information.

Don’t forget to check out our new online “Submit a Grievance” web form, which is available at Please pass this link along to your colleagues if you hear of someone that might need to speak with the Grievance Committee.

Stewards’ Council (SC):

The Stewards Council is always looking for new members who want to help organize their departments! We are especially looking for grad workers who would like to be Stewards who are planning to stay in Champaign-Urbana over the summer. Please contact the Stewards’ Council Chair at with any questions.

Stewards are a visible representative of the GEO in their departments, and representatives of their department to the GEO. They are the go-to people for fielding questions about the contract, or other issues that GEO members might be facing, and are essential for communicating problems in their department to the GEO. They also help keep membership in their departments informed and up-to-date about GEO activities. The SC plans a variety of events every year, such as happy hours, general membership meetings, and informational sessions for departments. By being a steward for your department, you can work with GEO to make events tailored to your department’s students’ needs and interests.

Our meetings are open to all GEO members. While each department has its own method for appointing stewards, any GEO member may serve as a steward. Some department have co-Stewards. The next meeting is on Thursday June 8, 6:00-8:00pm, at the GEO office.

Communications Committee (Comm Comm):

We’re looking for new members to join our committee! Our meetings are open to all GEO members and no prior experience with communications is necessary. Please contact the Communications Officer at if you have questions about the meeting. All members are welcome! The next meeting is on Wednesday, June 14, 6:00-8:00pm, at the GEO Office.


Solidarity Committee (Sol Comm):

Sol Comm is committed to working on issues of social justice and supporting them through various means such as financial endorsements, statements of support, and collaborations. To that end, the Solidarity Committee allows the creation of research groups to efficiently strategize around issues of social justice. Groups such as the Environmental Justice Research Group, the Gender Justice Research Group, and the Anti‐Police Brutality Research Group work on these issues and report to the Solidarity Committee. Please contact the Solidarity Committee Chair at regarding summer meeting times.


Coordinating Committee (CC):

The Coordinating Committee (CC) is made up of elected officers from all committees, though any member may attend meetings. The CC makes decisions about large‐scale projects, some financial decisions, and the GEO’s long‐term vision. Our meetings are open to all GEO members. Please contact the Co-Presidents at with any questions about the meeting. The next CC meeting is on Thursday, June 8, 6:00-8:00pm, at the GEO office.


Health Care Working Group (HCWG):

The Health Care Working Group works to educate graduate employees on their healthcare rights and benefits, as well as facilitating conversations about healthcare on campus between different stakeholder groups. For more information about meeting times and other information, please contact





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1 thought on “BARGAINING, Announcements, Events, and Updates June 1, 2017”

  1. Please be sure to check the final destination when bussing to FSI! Many Yellow buses stop at Lot E-14, which is a 15-20 minute walk away from FSI. Make sure the final destination is WATER SURVEY.

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