5th Bargaining Session Summary June 6, 2017

Today, the GEO Bargaining Team (BT) and the UIUC Administration held their fifth bargaining session. Thank you to all members who attended! We filled the room–making a strong statement to the Administration about our commitment. There was even a baby present!

Please read below for more information on what happened today and what comes next.

NEXT BARGAINING SESSION: Tuesday, June 20, 2017, 9:00am-12:00pm, Illinois Fire Service Institute (11 Gerty Drive, Champaign). All members are welcome!

Key takeaways from today’s session:

  1. GEO Co-President Augustus Wood presented a powerful statement about the importance of tuition waivers to GEO members.
  • At the last session, the Administration told us that they intended to “clarify” the side letter but didn’t state when they would do so or why, so we prepared a statement about why tuition waivers are important to us, the members. We presented the statement (attached) and asked the Administration for a response today.
  • The Administration was initially unwilling to respond to our statement, acknowledging only that it had taken place. When pressed by the lead negotiators, they agreed to caucus and returned with a proposal for a new side letter on tuition waivers.


  1. The Administration presented us with a new side letter on tuition waivers that showed their intent to change our tuition waiver protections!
  • For the first time in this bargaining cycle, we received an economic proposal from the Administration. We have been asking to see their economic proposal(s) since the first day of bargaining on March 30th. This is a big development, and it only happened because we demanded it. Now we know how they intend to reduce tuition waivers. Now we know what we’re fighting against.
  • This new side letter includes language which limits tuition waivers at the Administration’s discretion and introduces a NEW “base-rate” for tuition waivers. They did not clarify what this means, despite being asked to do so repeatedly. We will not know for sure until the Administration defines exactly what they mean–something we will continue to push them on.
  • They suggested that current members would not be affected, only incoming students–and only in select programs. This would drive a wedge into our potential membership. They seem to assume that we don’t care about future members. They’re wrong! Furthermore, their proposal contains vague language that may, despite the Administration’s claims, also leave current graduate employees at risk for having their waiver reduced or removed, in certain situations.
  • To see our current contract and side letter, you can visit our website.


  1. STILL no comprehensive proposal.


  • Why is this important?
  • We can’t bargain until we know what their full economic comprehensive proposal contains. Without seeing their full comprehensive proposal, we don’t know what’s on the table or what the Administration’s priorities are.
  • They are asking us to sign partial agreements on non-economic proposals without showing us their full proposal, and this is unacceptable–would you agree to buy a house without knowing how much it costs?!



  • GEO’s Response
  • We’ve continued to reject their piecemeal proposals on individual non-economic articles. As a part of these rejections, we’ve explained how these proposals don’t meet our needs and why we can’t fully consider them until we see their full comprehensive proposal.


  • We need the Administration to WORK WITH US and show us their full comprehensive proposal, which includes economic components!


What Comes Next:

Members, please attend the next bargaining session: we need you!

The Bargaining Team represents members at the table. We look to you, the members, for input when we go to break out sessions. The more members in the room, the better informed our decisions at the table.

Attending bargaining sessions is the best way to actively engage in the negotiation of your wages, healthcare, and other protections. It is perfectly acceptable to come late or leave early from a bargaining session if you can’t stay the entire time. Just being present demonstrates our unity and strength to the Administration. You can even bring your work if you want. Coffee and food will be provided.

The BT and the Administration agreed to meet for our next bargaining session on Tuesday, June 20, 2017, from 9:00am to 12:00pm at the Illinois Fire Service Institute (11 Gerty Drive, Champaign). All members are welcome! Fill out the carpool signup form if you need a ride.

The next BT meeting is on Friday, June 9, 1:00-3:00pm, at the GEO Office. Contact barg@uigeo.org with any questions. All members are welcome!

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.

More Ways to be Involved with Bargaining:

  • Talk to your GEO department Steward
  • Attend a Bargaining Team meeting
  • Attend bargaining sessions
  • Talk to your GEO colleagues

If you have questions about bargaining or the BT’s proposal, attending a meeting is the best way to address them. You can reach us at barg@uigeo.org. You can also find more info about bargaining our website.

See the GEO event calendar for future Bargaining Team meetings, bargaining sessions, and other events. Add it to your Google calendar by searching for geo@uigeo.org. Bargaining Team meetings and bargaining sessions are open to all members. Please contact the Bargaining Team (barg@uigeo.org) 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 barg@uigeo.org 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.

Follow GEO Online:

Website: www.uigeo.org

Twitter: @geo_uiuc

Facebook: @uigeo @geosolcomm

Instagram: @geo_uiuc


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