GEO members: come for a vital discussion of how we can win protection for tuition waivers in our new contract!
GEO Local 6300 sends our congratulations to the Chicago Teachers Union on their tentative contract agreement! Faced with a contract that would have devastated public education in Chicago, Chicago’s public school teachers walked out of the classroom and onto the picket lines. The House of Delegates has voted to adopt a tentative agreement, and CTU members will now vote on whether to ratify the contract.
The tentative agreement is a resounding victory for education justice in Chicago’s public schools.
The Chicago Teachers Union strike means that more students in more neighborhoods have better access to the education they need.
Because of the strike, working class and poor students in Chicago’s public schools will see: more expert health and other support staff, textbooks available to all students on the first day of classes, fewer great teachers pushed out of public education because of racist and classist standardized testing policies, and fair compensation for the teachers that work hard each and every day for their students.
Check out the full list of contract gains in the tentative agreement here–in this easy to read side by side comparison. And, here are English and Spanish language versions of a flyer explaining what the strike has meant for Chicago’s students.
The GEO knows what a feat it is for teachers to successfully withhold their labor in defense of fundamental necessities for just and accessible public education–necessities like basic support for neighborhood schools; and tuition waivers for graduate employees working in public universities.
We join the Chicago Teachers Union in declaring:
Until We Win! Fair Contract Now!
The GEO stands with the Chicago Teachers Union as they continue to strike for public education.
In 2009, the GEO Strike Committee waited to suspend our strike until members were heard through their voices and their votes at a General Membership Meeting. The Strike Committee took this action because we are a democratic organization wherein members make the decisions. But some in the UIUC administration falsely accused the GEO of unfairly preventing its members from going back to work.
The CTU Board of Directors has made our 2009 Strike Committee’s decision on a much larger scale: given the impact the Chicago Teachers’ new contract will have on the people of Chicago and the future of public education in this country, the Board refused to suspend a strike until all CTU members were heard. Sure enough, Mayor Emanuel’s response is to falsely accuse CTU leadership of preventing its members from returning to work.
Our solidarity is our power: the bosses will always try to undermine workers’ rights to form a union. The University of Illinois Board of Trustees has spent thousands of dollars fighting the recognition of the democratically elected Faculty Association at UI Chicago. Our labor is our power: The bosses will always try to undermine the unions’ right to strike. Mayor Emanuel has so far failed in his dishonest bid to force teachers off the picket lines through the courts.
The Graduate Employees Organization at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IFT-AFT Local 6300 AFL-CIO, supports the proposed closure of Tamms Correctional Center, the Supermax Prison in Tamms, Illinois. As an Illinois local committed to social justice and human rights, we condemn the deplorable conditions imposed on the people incarcerated at Tamms Correctional Center, which includes 23-hour solitary confinement, limited access to phone calls or other connections to the outside world, and no physical contact. A significant percentage of people incarcerated at Tamms have been subject to these conditions for over a decade. Prolonged solitary confinement is a form of torture that has been linked to severe, long-term psychological damage and increased mental illness. This kind of torture has been condemned both locally and internationally. We join these voices to support working people everywhere in advocating for justice and human rights for all people.
The possible closure of Tamms Correctional Center reflects a pivotal moment for the labor movement in the current era of mass incarceration in the United States. The growth of the prison industry through rising rates of incarceration over the past three decades and the recent turn towards privatization of prisons, combine with the disproportionate sentencing of working class people and people of color to make the advent of mass incarceration in the United States not only a social justice issue, but a labor issue. Rather than support an already bloated prison system, we urge all labor unions to join us by opposing the growth of prisons and the racist and inhumane policies of mass incarceration, such as the continued funding of Tamms Correctional Center. We instead encourage the expansion of unionized employment outside of the Prison Industrial Complex into other sectors of the economy, including non-prison industries, public service, and public education.
The Graduate Employees Organization, AFT/IFT Local 6300, AFL-CIO, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, represents approximately 2,700 Teaching and Graduate Assistants on the UIUC Campus. In November 2009, over 1,000 GEO members successfully went on strike to secure a fair contract for graduate employees and a more accessible UIUC. The GEO continues to work for justice and equity in public higher education in Illinois. For more information, please contact GEO Communications Officer Ryne Leuzinger at email@example.com.
GEO Members and Campus and C-U Activists,
The GEO Rally for Access and Equality tomorrow morning–8/16, 8:45 am, Levis Faculty Center–is our most important event so far in bargaining. Our contract with the University expires today, but the administration team continues to stall in the room.
A big turnout at the rally will set the stage for our negotiations as we enter the new school year:
It will send a clear message to the admin team that as more of our members return to campus, we demand movement and fair negotiations in the bargaining room: we don’t accept the administration’s refusal to agree to reasonable, no cost contract proposals unless the GEO agrees to major financial concessions in exchange.
It will send a clear message to the admin team that when we ask for contract language that protects working parents, GLBTQ people, people of color, international students, and immigrants in our bargaining unit, we don’t accept their proposals to put a price on the rights and safety of our members.
It will provide vital support for our bargaining team as they demand, for the first time in GEO history, that the rights and protections in our contract be made available to all UIUC TAs and GAs, no matter who we are or how we love.
It will show that we as a union, a campus, and a community back the bargaining team in all of our four pillars–Access & Equality, Health Care, a Living Wage, and Tuition waivers–and that we won’t back down until we’ve won a fair and just contract for all members of our bargaining unit.
See you tomorrow morning–until we win!
–GEO Communications Committee, Access and Equality Caucus, and Bargaining Team
FOR MORE INFORMATION on negotiations or on what the bargaining team will be negotiating tomorrow, please see our post below. For GEO members, more specific contract information is also available in the two previous GEO-Ls. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our facebook page for more information and updates. You can view and download the flyer for tomorrow’s rally by right clicking on the image below. Finally, check out the flyer for the first meeting (yay) of the GEO Access and Equality Caucus here.
RALLY TO SUPPORT THE BARGAINING TEAM’S STRUGGLE TO ENSURE ACCESS TO CONTRACT PROTECTIONS FOR ALL BARGAINING UNIT MEMBERS:
LEVIS FACULTY CENTER, 8:45 AM, THURSDAY, AUGUST 16, 2012: BARGAINING SESSION STARTS AT 9:00
Yesterday, the GEO bargaining team proposed two tentative agreements (TAs): the first on accommodations for nursing mothers (to help bring University units in compliance with state law); the second on improving our grievance procedure by better protecting grad employees who are subject to discrimination or harassment at the hands of their immediate supervisor.
These TA proposals were almost identical to language that the administration proposed just last week.* The admin team has consistently objected to our proposals for basic accommodations and support for working parents, so our bargaining team attempted to achieve movement at the bargaining table by proposing TAs on other issues that both the GEO and the admin basically agree on. But today, the administration team refused to sign mutually agreeable language on nursing mothers and grievances unless the GEO entirely drops our proposal for a Child Care Subsidy to support graduate employee parents.
The administration is stalling negotiations by putting a price tag on basic rights of access and protection for parents, women, and minority employees in the bargaining unit.
At the next bargaining session on August 16, our Bargaining Team will demand the administration respond to our specific proposals and push for historic contract language that would significantly increase recognition and access for LGBTQ persons and relationships, protect international and immigrant graduate employees, and work toward a safe and accessible workplace for queer, graduate students of color, and working parents in our bargaining unit.
The GEO Access and Equality Caucus will be staging a major rally in support of the Bargaining Team on August 16 at 8:45 am outside the Levis Faculty Center. The more of us GEO members that attend the rally, the more we will show the admin bargaining team that our union is serious about demanding a just contract for all members of the bargaining unit.
All GEO members are encouraged to attend the bargaining session immediately following the rally: let’s pack the room!
Our last round of contract negotiations ended in one of only five strikes involving at least 1,000 workers in the United States in 2009 partly because the administration team refused to respond to specific GEO proposals unless our team agreed to blanket “package deals” that would have forced the union to give up major concessions while receiving almost nothing in return.
Let’s demand an end to these 2009 stall tactics on August 16!
*GEO members: see the GEO-L today (8/3) for more information on the bargaining team’s proposed TA language
The 1,750 graduate employees, represented by Graduate Assistants United (GAU), at Southern Illinois University Carbondale have now been working without a contract for more than 480 days. They are joined by tenured and tenure-track, civil service employees and non-tenured faculty – together making up 3,500 unionized employees on the SIUC campus.
This past Monday members of GAU voted to set a strike deadline. If no agreement has been reached by 12:01 AM November 3rd, union members will walk off the job, commencing one of the largest higher education strikes in history.
Their demands are simple: a contract that guarantees quality, affordable health care to graduate employees, the option to buy coverage for spouses and children, and an end to skyrocketing fees, which have doubled over the past 5 years. Faculty are fighting to preserve tenure (the administration wants the right to lay offtenured faculty due to financial reasons) and civil service employees and those non-tenured faculty are fighting layoffs and furloughs.
It’s not too late to help our fellow graduate employees in Southern Illinois. You can email or call the SIUC administration to settle these contracts today! Help keep grads and faculty in the classrooms and offices and off the picket lines!
Ms. Misty Whittington
Executive Secretary of the Board
Office of the Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees
“The faculty union at the University of Illinois at Chicago won another victory Friday, with a ruling by the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board rejecting a request by the university to stay an order certifying the union. The union is the result of a major organizing drive conducted by the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers, which have hoped that the effort at UIC would pave the way for more faculty unions at doctoral institutions.”
Read more at the Inside Higher Ed ‘Quick Takes’ Blog.
The members of the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO), Illinois Federation of Teachers Local 6300, AFL-CIO, stand in solidarity with the members of the Graduate Assistants United and their fellow unions on the Southern Illinois University (SIU) campus as they fight to secure a freeze on fees that have gone up more than $1,000 since 2006 and adequate health care for their members and their members’ families.
Members of the GEO support the Carbondale graduate assistants as they work to find an agreement with the University and consider the need to strike in the face of insufficient bargaining progress. In 2009 the GEO held a successful strike in order to secure tuition waivers, which were a part of the contract that our members were not willing to compromise on.
We also stand in solidarity with the three other unions that are currently in negotiations with the SIU administration (the Association of Civil Service Employees, the Non-Tenure Track Faculty Association, and the Faculty Association). We are particularly concerned that the SIU administration is seeking the authority to lay off tenured professors, at the administration’s sole discretion, for financial reasons. This bypasses and undermines the tenure system. Many of us will become faculty members in the future and feel strongly that the integrity of our universities and the future of our academic careers are dependent on respecting the tenure system.
We know that labor solidarity in education
The members of the UIUC Graduate Employees Organization