BARGAINING, Announcements, Events, and Updates July 3, 2017

Table of Contents:

  • CO-PRESIDENTS’ MESSAGE
  • ANNOUNCEMENTS
    • Seventh Bargaining Session
      • Ways to be Involved with Bargaining
      • Call for Testimonials
    • Call for RAs Interested in Organizing
    • NTFC is Hiring a Part-Time Office Manager
    • GEO is Moving
  • EVENTS
    • Wear It Wednesday
    • Call Your Heather!
    • Healthcare Town Hall
  • COMMITTEE UPDATES
    • Grievance Committee
    • Stewards’ Council
    • Communications Committee
    • Solidarity Committee
    • Coordinating Committee
    • Health Care Working Group
  • CONNECT WITH GEO

 

————–

CO-PRESIDENTS’ MESSAGE

 

Greetings GEO Family,

Thanks to all of your energy, presence, and participation, we continue to have a powerful summer. While your energy and participation pressured the Administration to start bargaining with us, we have successfully moved the GEO office to the Geneva Room in the McKinley Foundation building, which you can read more about further down under announcements.

Bargaining has also been valuable for us members to learn about our experiences as graduate employees. Being together and learning about each other’s cases makes us grow together as a union. We could see this clearly happening in the most-recent bargaining session, as two of our members came out and shared how access to tuition waivers is essential for them being at UIUC. In addition, we can also see how our union grows together in the work of all GEO’s committees and working groups.

The Bargaining Team has been working tirelessly to reach the best contract between GEO and the Administration. At the same time, GEO’s Stewards and members of the Communications Committee, the Coordinating Committee, the Solidarity Committee, the Health Care Working Group, and the International Students Working Group discuss graduate employees’ struggles on a daily basis to think about how we can best defend the interests of the membership. The work and commitment of all the members in our union is what makes us strong! Again, thank you all for your participation. And we hope you can make it to our next bargaining session on July 11. Let’s show the university our unity and strength.

Marília Corrêa and Augustus Wood
Co-Presidents

————–

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Seventh Bargaining Session

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

Come to the bargaining session to help us fight for a contract that protects our rights as workers!

Directions and Travel Information to the Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI):

  • Carpool: the Bargaining Team has organized a carpool for members. If want to attend and need a ride, please fill out the carpool signup form on our website. Carpools will travel between the GEO Office and IFSI. 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 IFSI lot.
  • Bike: there are at least two bike racks available in front of the IFSI main building.
  • Bus: the bus line is 1 South Yellow to Water Survey and the stop is the Water Survey building. Be sure your bus is labeled Water Survey, not Lot E-14 or Savoy Wal-Mart.

Here’s a link to the Facebook event for the seventh 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, participating in the Call Your Heather! event (see below under events), following GEO on social media, and reading GEO emails.

You can also find more information about bargaining on our website.

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 BT meeting is the best way to address them. To find out about future meeting times, check the GEO events calendar or contact us at barg@uigeo.org.

 

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’s 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 are not covered by our 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 officer3@uigeo.org.

 

NTFC is Hiring a Part-Time Office Manager

The Non-Tenure Faculty Coalition (NTFC) Local 6546 is looking for a part-time office manager to assist with the daily functions of a non-tenure track faculty union. Preferred applicants would have experience working with academics and/or labor unions. For more information and how to apply, see their job listing.

 

GEO is Moving

On Friday, July 7th, GEO will be moving to our new, bigger-and-better office space! We’ll remain in the McKinley Foundation (809 S 5th Street, Champaign) ground floor, but will be relocating from the sunroom to the Geneva Room. This new office space will provide GEO with both a larger and more efficient space, but also more opportunities to meet and organize on behalf of graduate employees across the campus.

Join us on the 7th from 1:00-4:00pm for a party to celebrate the move, or come by after to visit the office to see our new space. The Facebook event can be found here.

 

————–

 

EVENTS:

 

See a full schedule of GEO meetings and events here, and contact geo@uigeo.org 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.

 

Call Your Heather!

Do you have an issue with late appointment letters, inadequate healthcare and childcare, unaddressed microaggressions, workplace safety, lack of resources, or other problems that affect your work on campus? Join GEO as we voice our concerns to Academic Human Resources to let them know they need to work with us at the bargaining table to create systemic fixes for our problems.

WHO? All UIUC graduate employees, both on campus, and elsewhere! This is a great way to get involved and work together with the GEO to let the Administration know our needs.

WHAT? A collective action to show the Administration that the problems graduate employees face are real and difficult. Graduate employees will gather to call or email Heather Horn to inform her about their employment-related problems.

WHY? Heather Horn, the lead negotiator for the Administration’s Bargaining Team, stated in the bargaining room that she doesn’t know there are any problems with graduate employees’ working conditions if she hasn’t heard about them directly. Graduate employees will call or email to inform her, and the Administration, about their employment-related problems. Widespread problems require systemic fixes via a collective bargaining agreement, not individual fixes for those that come forward to Heather.

WHEN? Thursday, July 13, 1:00pm-4:00pm CST. You can also participate remotely by phone or email. Contact us at geo@uigeo.org for info on how to participate from off-campus.

WHERE? GEO’s new office! We’re still in the McKinley Foundation Building (809 S. Fifth St., C.) but now in the Geneva Room. Come warm up our new office with a work action!

ALSO OF NOTE:

    • The GEO’s Grievance Committee will be present to assist members with possible grievances. If you aren’t comfortable sharing your issues with Heather you can still join us and chat with the Grievance Committee.

 

  • YOU CANNOT BE RETALIATED AGAINST FOR PARTICIPATION IN UNION ACTIVITIES, INCLUDING THIS WORK ACTION OR A GRIEVANCE.

 

CALL OR EMAIL HEATHER HORN:

217-333-0989

hwilson@illinois.edu

 

 

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 19, 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 event for the Healthcare Town Hall.

 

————–

 

COMMITTEE UPDATES:

 

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 Thursday July 6, 3:00-5:00pm, at the GEO office.

DID YOU KNOW???

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 http://www.uigeo.org/grievances/grievance-report/. 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 want to help educate their departments about what’s happening at the bargaining table. Please contact the Stewards’ Council Chair at sc@uigeo.org 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 July 6, 5:00-7:00pm, 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. This summer we are working on developing a new media campaign around bargaining and ordering and designing new t-shirts and other swag for GEO, as well as updating GEO’s Chambana Guide in preparation for the fall orientation for new grad employees. Please contact the Communications Officer at commcomm@uigeo.org if you are interested in joining the Communications Committee. All members are welcome! The next meeting is on Thursday, July 13, 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. For information on the next meeting, contact solcomm@uigeo.org.

 

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 cc@uigeo.org with any questions about the next meeting. The next CC meeting is on Thursday July 6, 5:00-7:00pm, 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. The next meeting is Wednesday, July 5, 12:00-1:00 pm at the GEO Office. For more information, please contact geo@uigeo.org.

 

————–

 

CONNECT WITH GEO!

Twitter: @geo_uiuc

Facebook: @uigeo  @geosolcomm

Instagram: @geo_uiuc


Text the word “GEO” to 69238 to receive periodic messages concerning crucial bargaining updates and other urgent information. Msg & data rates may apply. Text STOP to 69238 to stop receiving messages. Text HELP to 69238 for more information. Terms & Conditions.


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

 

BARGAINING: Sixth Session Summary June 20, 2017

 

Today, the GEO Bargaining Team (BT) and the UIUC Administration held their sixth bargaining session. Thank you to all members who attended!

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

NEXT BARGAINING SESSION: Tuesday, July 11, 2017, 9:00am-12:00pm, Illinois Fire Service Institute (11 Gerty Drive, Champaign). All members are welcome! You can also find more information about bargaining on our website.

Key takeaways from today’s session:

  1. The Administration gave us their full comprehensive counter-proposal, including economic items. Our increased member presence and participation clearly worked to pressure them–getting a comprehensive proposal from the Administration is a MAJOR development! After three months, we can finally start bargaining our contract with all items on the table. Now the real struggle begins to secure a fair graduate employee contract.
  2. We rejected the Administration’s tuition waiver side letter proposal from June 6, 2017, with a statement that put their proposal in the context of past arbitration decisions. The Admin wants to have the right to change any of the terms and conditions associated with any tuition waiver. We think this is unacceptable because we view tuition waivers as the due compensation for our labor. You can find the statement about tuition waivers that our lead negotiators presented today here.
  3. Two of our members shared their experiences regarding the connection between tuition waivers and access and equality at this university. Hearing their personal stories and presenting these to the Administration was a powerful moment in the negotiation room. These narratives also showed how our bargaining pillars work together and cannot be considered in isolation.
  4. We had great member turnout and productive conversation among membership about what we observed in the negotiation room. Member turnout is our strongest tool to fight for our contract priorities and we encourage all members to attend a session. Thank you to all who attended–please spread the word and bring another member with you next time!

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.

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.

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.

 

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

The next BT meeting is on Wednesday, June 21, 7:00-9:00pm, at the GEO Office. Contact barg@uigeo.org with any questions. All members are welcome!

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 on 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.

 

Follow GEO Online:

Website: www.uigeo.org

Twitter: @geo_uiuc

Facebook: @uigeo @geosolcomm

Instagram: @geo_uiuc

 

Text the word “GEO” to 69238 to receive periodic messages concerning crucial bargaining updates and other urgent information. Msg & data rates may apply. Text STOP to 69238 to stop receiving messages. Text HELP to 69238 for more information. Terms & Conditions.

 

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

 

Text the word “GEO” to 69238 to receive periodic messages concerning crucial bargaining updates and other urgent information. Msg & data rates may apply. Text STOP to 69238 to stop receiving messages. Text HELP to 69238 for more information. Terms & Conditions.

 

 

May Day, GEO 20th Birthday, Bargaining, Announcements, Updates, and Events

Table of Contents:

MAY DAY HISTORY
HAPPY BIRTHDAY GEO
MAY DAY RALLY

ANNOUNCEMENTS
Third Bargaining Session
Call for Testimonials

COMMITTEE UPDATES
Grievance Committee
Steward’s Council
Communications Committee
Solidarity Committee
Coordinating Committee
Healthcare Working Group

EVENTS
Wear It Wednesday
Physics Grads: GEO Bargaining Updates & Work Actions
Coffee Cart

 
 

May Day Email Banner

MAY DAY HISTORY

On May 1, 1886, workers took to the streets in a general strike throughout the entire country to force the ownership class to recognize the eight-hour work day. Over 350,000 workers across the country directly participated in the general strike, with hundreds of thousands of workers joining the marches. On May 3rd in Chicago, the city police opened fire on the unarmed striking workers at the McCormick Reaper Works, killing six workers and wounding countless others in the Haymarket Massacre. On May 4th, workers across the nation quickly rose up, particularly the Chicago anarchists of the IWPA (International Working Peoples’ Association), who organized a rally of several thousand workers at Haymarket Square to protest the continuing police violence against striking workers on the South Side. As the last speaker finished his remarks, 180 armed police marched forward and demanded the workers to disperse. Then, deep within the police ranks, a bomb exploded, killing seven officers. The police opened fire on the unarmed workers. Eight anarchist workers were convicted of murder and inciting a riot. Only one of the eight men accused was present at the protest, and he was attempting to address the crowd when the bomb went off.  No evidence was ever produced to uphold the accusations. Four of the prisoners – Albert Parsons, August Spies, George Engel and Adolph Fisher – were executed while Louis Lingg committed suicide and the three remaining were pardoned due to immense working class uprisings. On May 1, 1890, in accordance with the decision of the Paris Congress (July 1889) of the Second International to commemorate the Haymarket martyrs, workers organized mass demonstrations and strikes across multiple continents. The workers put forward the demands for an 8-hour workday, better health conditions, and further demands set forth by the International Association of Workers. Workers symbolized the red flag as a working-class commemoration for those lost through exploitation and oppression. From that day forward (starting in 1891 in Russia), workers throughout the world began to celebrate the first of May as a day of international worker solidarity, fighting for liberation, celebrating the past, and building our future without the oppression and exploitation of the state.

Today, unions like GEO continue to be on the forefront of fighting for workers’ rights and fair working conditions.

 

GEO Birthday Flyer

HAPPY 20TH BIRTHDAY GEO!

This spring, GEO is celebrating its 20th birthday! UIUC graduate employees voted to establish GEO as their official union representative in the spring of 1997, after several years of organizing. Since then, we’ve bargained four contracts, secured tuition waiver protections, won improved wages and more affordable healthcare, established a grievance procedure to protect our rights, eaten a LOT of pizza, and much more. In our twenty-year history, we have become famous among labor organizations nationwide for our strength and commitment to democratic principles. We hope you’ll come out and celebrate with us at the May Day rally on May 1st (details below). Here’s to many more years and victories!

 

May Day Rally Banner

MAY DAY RALLY

Join us at the May Day rally to celebrate campus labor and social justice, and GEO’s birthday! Workers from several campus labor unions will speak at the rally on Monday, May 1, 12:00pm, at Anniversary Plaza. Here is the Facebook event link for the May Day Rally.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Third Bargaining Session:
GEO’s third bargaining session with the UIUC administration will be on Tuesday, May 2, 9:00am-12:00pm, at the McKinley Foundation (809 S 5th St, Champaign, IL) on campus. All members are welcome to attend this bargaining session. Refreshments will be provided for members in attendance.

The GEO recognized the Fire Services Institute as unsuitable for member attendance and prioritized securing a more accessible space for bargaining. As a result, the GEO successfully moved the third bargaining session to the member-friendly McKinley Foundation. Securing a negotiated, member-friendly campus space for bargaining not only serves to increase member attendance and participation in bargaining, but also significantly shifts the power dynamics (control of our bargaining) in our favor. With this early victory, members can be assured that the Bargaining Team will stand firm on all contract proposals to advance the material and social condition for all workers!

Here’s a link to the Facebook event for the third 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 is a summary of the second bargaining session (April 17), and a summary of the first bargaining session (March 30).

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

Join the Bargaining Team at their next meeting on Thursday, May 4, 3:00-5:00pm, 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 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.

 

COMMITTEE UPDATES:

Grievance Committee:
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. We meet every Tuesday at 7pm at the GEO Office.

DID YOU KNOW???

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 http://www.uigeo.org/grievances/grievance-report/. 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 sc@uigeo.org 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 Tuesday, May 9, 5:00-7:00pm, 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 Communications Committee at commcomm@uigeo.org if you are interested in attending. The next meeting is on Thursday, May 11, 2:00-4:00pm, 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 at solcomm@uigeo.orgThe next meeting is on May 5, 6:00-8:00pm, at the GEO Office.

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 Coordinating Committee at cc@uigeo.org with any questions. Meeting times for the CC can be found on the GEO Calendar.

 

Healthcare Working Group:
The Healthcare 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 contact geo@uigeo.org. The next meeting is on Wednesday, May 10, 3:30-4:30 pm, at the GEO Office.

 

EVENTS:

See a full schedule of GEO meetings and events here, and contact geo@uigeo.org 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.

Physics Grads: GEO Bargaining Updates & Work Actions
Monday, May 1st, 6:00-7:30pm in Loomis 222. We will start this session with an overview of our contract proposal and updates on bargaining by the Bargaining Team. After this, the Work Action Group will talk about how you can support the GEO during to contract negotiations: one way is taking collective action to get a fair contract.

Food and drinks will be provided. You don’t have to be in the physics department to attend. Facebook event can be found here.

Coffee Cart
The GEO coffee cart is coming to you! Grab a free cup of coffee, some GEO swag, and chat with GEO members as the cart makes its way around the quad and into nearby buildings on Wednesdays from 11am to 1pm.

 

CONNECT WITH GEO!

Twitter: @geo_uiuc
Facebook: @uigeo  @geosolcomm
Instagram: @geo_uiuc


Text Updates: text the word “GEO” to 69238 to receive periodic messages concerning crucial bargaining updates and other urgent information. Msg & data rates may apply. Text STOP to 69238 to stop receiving messages. Text HELP to 69238 for more information. Terms & Conditions.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

 

 

April 1st Work-in/Teach-in: “Tuition Waivers Matter!”

Throughout our union’s history, GEO members have consistently fought to protect tuition waivers in the face of repeated attempts by UIUC to diminish them. Tuition waivers are a benefit of employment for graduate employees. Tuition waivers keep graduate and undergraduate education high quality. If only those students who could afford graduate school could attend graduate school, then more qualified candidates might take better offers from other institutions. This impacts the quality of graduate student research, the quality of graduate student courses, and the quality of undergraduate courses taught by graduate students.
Over 1,000 GEO members went on strike on November 16-17, 2009 to win tuition waiver protection in our collective bargaining agreement. Almost immediately (January, 2010) the University took away tuition waivers from incoming graduate employees in the College of Fine and Applied Arts.
In 2011, the GEO won an arbitration regarding changes in tuition waiver policy in Fine and Applied Arts; the arbitrator agreed that the University could not change tuition waivers for graduate employees already at the University. The University owed the FAA students the tuition they had paid. However, the University refused to comply with the arbitrator’s decision until the GEO threatened to strike in 2012. In early 2013, University finally paid FAA graduate students nearly half a millions dollars for tuition they were forced to pay.
TAs and GAs across campus work to make UIUC great! Graduate students cannot be made a source of revenue.
TAs & GAs across campus make UIUC great! The University works because we do!
In 2013, Masters in Computer Science (MCS) students and MA students in Statistics were informed that they could not hold waiver-generating appointments. The two departments agreed to reverse their stance on assistantships after meeting with GEO.
In 2014, incoming MCS students were informed that the Computer Science department would not allow them to hold assistantships in CS and would seek a cash sum as tuition reimbursement for all MCS students who received waiver-generating appointments outside of CS. As a result of this policy change, most MCS students were hired as hourly employees. Hourly employees do the same work as Graduate Assistants and Teaching Assistants, but are not awarded tuition waivers. We went to arbitration in August 2015. On January 26, 2016, the GEO was notified of the arbitrator’s decision. An arbitration is a legally binding decision. In this case, it is possible that affected students could be paid back their tuition by the University. The arbitrator ordered the University and GEO to meet to determine the remedy.
The GEO has been attempting to contact the University’s lawyer, Craig Hoefer, multiple times to schedule a meeting with the University to determine the remedy for the MCS arbitration, as ordered by the arbitrator. FinallyThe GEO and the administration will be meeting on April 1 at 10 am in the Henry Administration Building. We need to show the University that grad students aren’t willing to compromise on tuition waivers. The reimbursable policy threatens grad student employment because a grad student’s home department can ask a graduate student’s employing department to pay their tuition. The arbitrator ruled in our favor in January, stating, “The MCS action upsets the full panoply of assumptions that underlie the University framework of support for graduate students. It reduces the value of the tuition waiver, when it imposes the costs of the tuition waiver on the employing unit, the unit granting the assistantship. The tuition waiver is transformed from the primary form of compensation to a competitive disqualifying cost.” (p. 27). According to the Grad College Handbook, nearly every department is classified such that they can ask for reimbursement; the reimbursement practice is a threat to graduate employment across campus. It must be stopped. 
Bring your work, office hours and classes to the quad!
Bring your work, office hours and classes to the quad!

We need to remind the University that “the University works because we do,” and we need tuition waivers to work. Show up to work or teach in front of the Henry Administration on the Quad side whenever you can between 8:30 and 11am. GEO will have tables and chairs set up, as well as blankets. Coffee will be provided.
We need your help. If you can, attend RSVP to the event on Facebook or email GEO.
The University works because we do.

FAQ: What is an arbitration?

GEOFAQ
As you may have heard, the GEO is holding a rally and asking for signatures on petition in an effort to get the University to meet with us to determine the remedy on a recent arbitration decision.
You may be asking yourself, “What is an arbitration?” “Do they have to comply?” “Can they just take their time?”
Let’s begin by discussing what an arbitration is. The arbitration is the final stage of the grievance process, as described in Article XVIII of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the GEO and the University. In 2014, students in the Masters of Computer Science (MCS) program made the GEO aware that their department was asking departments that employed them to pay their tuition. GEO grieved this as a violation of the tuition waiver side letter attached to the CBA. The University denied the grievance at every level, thus the grievance remained unresolved. The GEO chose to arbitrate because of the importance of tuition waivers to members of the GEO.
MCS students standing strong
MCS students standing strong
When the GEO goes to arbitration, the GEO’s and the University’s lawyers must choose an arbitrator. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services (FMCS) or the American Arbitration Association (AAA) submits 5 possible arbitrators who are members of the National Academy of Arbitrators. The GEO’s and University’s lawyers each eliminate 2 arbitrators; the remaining arbitrator will serve as arbitrator. The University, the GEO, and the arbitrator then select a date and location for the arbitration; in the case of the MCS arbitration, the arbitration was held in August 2015, a year after the initial grievance was filed, at the iHotel.
In the arbitration, the arbitrator essentially serves as the judge. The lawyers make oral arguments during the arbitration. The arbitrator asks clarifying questions of the lawyers and any witnesses brought forth. The GEO and the University also provide evidence for the arbitrator to consider when making the decision. After the oral arguments, the lawyers submit written briefs stating their case to the arbitrator; the University’s lawyers delayed in submitting the brief and did not submit it until mid-November 2015. After receiving both briefs, the arbitrator determines which party wins and any remedies. An arbitration decision is a legally-binding decision, meaning that the University must comply with it.
In the case of the MCS arbitration, the arbitrator determined on January 26, 2016, that the GEO had won. The arbitrator did not determine the remedy, but instructed the GEO and the University to meet to determine the remedy. That meeting is happening Wednesday, April 1st and we want members and the community to show up outside of Henry Administration building to demonstrate just how much this meeting means to us!
A previous arbitration decision determined that Fine and Applied Arts students were owed money for tuition paid. After that arbitration, the University waited years to comply with the remedy. The remedy was only met when the GEO agreed to sign the CBA in 2012. We cannot let that happen again.
The University works because we do.
Bring your work, office hours and classes to the quad!
Bring your work, office hours and classes to the quad!
11951263_10153274146009398_5470676221402301556_n

TBT: Tuition Waivers Under Attack in 2010, Still Are Today

This TBT takes us back to a 2010 GEO struggle for tuition waivers for graduate students in Fine and Applied Arts departments

Watch the video to see how the 2009 contract was violated in 2010.

July 2010: The GEO submitted a complaint to university regarding graduate employees in Fine and Applied Arts (FAA). Instead of providing first year employees the usual full tuition waiver, FAA issued in-state tuition waivers plus scholarships. However, the scholarships fell short of the whole difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition, and FAA grads had to pay the difference ($1,050/yr on a $7,000 – 9,000/acad yr income).

What is more, the College refused to guarantee the scholarships. This means they could disappear after 1 year and depts. could have charged the in-state and out-of-state tuition difference (almost $14,000/yr). This is yet another example of flawed budget priorities; the most vulnerable members of the University community are frequently asked to shoulder the burdens of budget shortfalls.

The GEO filed a grievance to address this violation before first year students even arrived on campus. We’ve worked through the three levels that are internal to the university and a binding arbitration. The arbitration is like a court hearing, except the judge’s decision is final; it cannot be appealed.

July 2011: The GEO won the arbitration, but the University did not abide by it at that time.

November 2012: During bargaining, the administration agreed to GEO’s new tuition waiver language and to abide by the arbitrator’s decision as part of the new contract. GEO accepted smaller wage increases and a 5 year contract, instead of a 3 year contract, in return for the continued waiver protection and the pay out of the arbitration decision.

Spring 2013: 266 FAA grad employees received tuition refunds plus interest
The struggle was long but GEO stood by FAA graduate employees and GEO members helped put pressure on the administration by circulating the facts of the contract violation. GEO is in the middle of another grievance for Masters in Computer Science students. Learn more about this grievance and help pressure the University to honor their contracts and respect their graduate students.

Tuition Wiavers Frontline After a Level 3 Grievance Meeting in December of 2014, MCS students and GEO Grievance Committee members
Tuition Wiavers Frontline
After a Level 3 Grievance Meeting in December of 2014, MCS students and GEO Grievance Committee members

 

MCS students standing strong
MCS students standing strong

For more information, please contact Becky Schumann, at (703)973-7486 or rebeccanne16@gmail.com.

UIUC Graduate College Reduces Tuition Waivers, Then Backs Off Under Pressure From GEO

Since 2009, GEO labor contract negotiations have protected the tuition waivers of graduate assistants. This fall, three masters programs in Statistics and Computer Science changed their designations to “self-supporting,” in violation of the contract.  As a result of this change in policy, students in these programs were not allowed to apply for assistantships in their own, or any other departments, and thus became ineligible for tuition waivers.

Under pressure from the GEO, the Graduate College has rescinded the policy change, and now states that graduate students in the three affected programs are eligible to receive assistantships and tuition waivers.  The initial modifications to the financial aid policies in these departments (Computer Science MCS, Statistics MS, and Statistics MS Masters with Analytics Concentration) were a clear violation of a contract side letter.  In response to this violation, the GEO Grievance Committee immediately contacted the university administration to protest.

Members of the GEO Grievance Committee met with representatives from Academic Human Resources (AHR), who in turn, met with the Deans of the College of Engineering and the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.  Following these meetings, representatives from AHR informed the Grievance Committee that the “self-supporting” designation had been reversed. Effective immediately, all graduate students in the three affected masters programs may hold assistantships that provide them with tuition waivers, approximately $1000 a year in health care subsidies, and a minimum wage set by the GEO contract.

Although the changes are effective immediately, final approval has to come from a committee in the administration to ensure that the new designations are permanent.

If the GEO had failed to notice this change, and AHR and the Graduate College had not reversed their decision, graduate students in the affected departments would only be eligible to hold hourly appointments, and would have been denied the safeguards on minimum standards of living wage and benefits guaranteed them by the 2009 collective bargaining agreement.

Administration puts price tag on basic contract rights: rally for Access and Equality August 16!

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!

Solidarity!

*GEO members: see the GEO-L today (8/3) for more information on the bargaining team’s proposed TA language