BARGAINING: Seventh Session Summary July 11, 2017

***July 11, 2017 — 35 days until our contract expires***

Today, the GEO Bargaining Team (BT) and the UIUC Administration held their seventh 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 25, 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:

  • We presented the Administration with a package counter-proposal on several items, focusing on nondiscrimination. They refused to sign it. The Administration always says that “Illinois cares,” so why are they so resistant to protecting our membership from discrimination and harassment? They said that they’ll come back with a counter at our next session.

  • Three members presented testimonials related to our proposal on Immigration and Visa Leave. The Administration continues to say that they (and their “experts”) don’t know anything about immigration issues that could impact graduate employees’ work. They continue to ignore our lived experiences.

  • The Administration claims that the state budget is to blame for why they cannot give us any sort of financial increase in our proposals relating to wages and healthcare or accept our childcare and fee waiver proposals. This is despite the fact that only a small percentage (~12%) of their overall budget comes from the state budget. The fact is, according to the most recent publicly available budget info, the university has more money than ever before.

  • The Administration still has not responded to a healthcare information request we submitted to them at the third bargaining session on May 2nd. They keep coming up with excuses for why they cannot provide us with this information, but after three months, it’s clear they are stalling the bargaining process. We need this information to bargain!  

Our contract expires on August 15, 2017, and we still haven’t gotten to the more contentious items like wages, tuition waivers, and healthcare. How long are they going to keep stalling?

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.

What Comes Next:

Members, we need all of your participation for this struggle!

Our next big event is the “Call Your Heather” event, Thursday July 13, 1:00-4:00pm at our new office in the Geneva Room. See the Facebook event here, and don’t forget it’s easy to participate remotely via phone or email.

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

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.

 

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.

 

BARGAINING, Announcements, Events, and Updates June 15, 2017

Table of Contents:

  • ANNOUNCEMENTS
    • Sixth 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
  • EVENTS
    • Wear It Wednesday
    • Healthcare Town Hall
  • COMMITTEE UPDATES
    • Grievance Committee
    • Stewards’ Council
    • Communications Committee
    • Solidarity Committee
    • Coordinating Committee
    • Health Care Working Group
  • CONNECT WITH GEO

 

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ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Sixth Bargaining Session

GEO’s sixth bargaining session with the UIUC Administration will be on Tuesday, June 20, 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 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 sixth 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.

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 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.

 

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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.

 

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.

 

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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 Tuesday, June 20, 7:00-8:00 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 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 June 15, 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 and ordering and designing new t-shirts and other swag for GEO. 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 Friday, June 30, 1:00-3:00pm, 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. The next meeting is on Friday June 16, 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 Co-Presidents at cc@uigeo.org with any questions about the meeting. The next CC meeting is on Thursday, June 15, 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. For more information about meeting times and other information, please contact geo@uigeo.org.

 

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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

 

The Importance of Organizing as a Graduate Student: A GEO Informational Event on June 14th

 

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.

Contact Zoe MacDowell Kaswan at officer3@uigeo.org with any questions about the event.

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.

 

 

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

 

Table of Contents:

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

 

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CO-PRESIDENTS’ MESSAGE

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
Co-Presidents,
Graduate Employees’ Organization, Local 6300 IFT/AFT AFL-CIO

————–

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

 

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 barg@uigeo.org. 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 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.

 

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 officer3@uigeo.org.

 

The Nurses’ Union is Hiring!

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

Online application for Union Staff: http://bit.ly/1Op5e1F

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 http://goo.gl/5nNRB7 as well as researchers http://goo.gl/lEJtkq.


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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.

 

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.

 

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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 Tuesday, June 6, 7:00-8:00 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 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 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 commcomm@uigeo.org 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 solcomm@uigeo.org 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 cc@uigeo.org 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 geo@uigeo.org.

 

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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

 

 

 

UIUC GEO COMMEMORATES 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF FIRST UNION ELECTION WITH NOON MAY DAY RALLY ON CAMPUS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: UIUC GEO COMMEMORATES 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF FIRST UNION ELECTION WITH NOON MAY DAY RALLY ON CAMPUS

Urbana-Champaign (May 1, 2017): The Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, AFT/IFT Local 6300, is celebrating its 20th birthday on May 1, 2017. After several years of collective organizing, UIUC graduate employees voted to establish GEO as their official union representative in the spring of 1997. The University of Illinois refused to recognize the results of the election but years of organizing and civil disobedience, alongside a legal battle, culminated in an occupation of Swanlund Administration Building in 2002 and subsequent negotiations with University officials. The first contract was signed in 2003.

Since then, GEO has bargained three additional contracts, secured tuition waiver protections, won improved wages and more affordable healthcare, established a grievance procedure to protect graduate employee rights, and much more. In GEO’s official twenty-year history, it has become famous among labor organizations nationwide for its strength and commitment to democratic principles, and a 2009 strike that brought more than 1,000 people to campus picket lines.

“Regardless of our changing membership, intense repression by the Administration, and federal, state, and local policies that curtail union power, the GEO has always and will continue to sustain a powerful rank-and-file membership through a democratic structure with the material and social interests of our membership as our sole organizing force,” said GEO member Gus Wood.

GEO will celebrate its birthday as a part of the May Day (International Workers’ Day) festivities it is planning for Monday in tandem with other campus and national labor unions and organizations. All community members are invited to a rally at Anniversary Plaza on UIUC’s north quad from 12:00 to 2:00pm, to celebrate workers’ contributions to society and reaffirm their commitment to fighting for labor and immigrant rights. There will be speakers from GEO, NTFC, SEIU, AFSCME, IWW, and a number of other organizations.

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 and more accessible UIUC. With an active presence in the community, the GEO continues to work for high-quality and accessible public education in Illinois.

For more information, please contact Maria Garth, at commcomm@uigeo.org. More information can also be found on GEO’s website at www.uigeo.org.

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

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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.

The CFA Announces Push to Unionize

Yesterday, the CFA announced broad and widespread support for a faculty union, among both tenure track and non-tenure track faculty. The CFA is moving towards majority support, and hopes that by further publicizing their intentions, they can gain momentum and begin the process of becoming a union. On February 5th at 10:00 AM, University of Illinois faculty will be speaking in favor of unionization, and GEO members will be present to demonstrate their support. For over 40 years, the CFA (formerly the Union of Professional Employees) has been and will continue to be beneficial for the future of the University of Illinois.

GEO Co-President Clayton Alsup adds: “The GEO is excited to work with the CFA as they work to form a union. It sends a clear statement to the University of Illinois administration that we are prepared to stand in solidarity in order to maintain high quality education and working conditions at our university. A unionized faculty will be better able to serve both their own members and their students.”

Susan Davis, Professor of Communications and the press officer for the CFA, stated that the CFA was in part inspired by the GEO’s resolute defense of graduate student tuition waivers. The CFA hopes that by becoming a union, they will be able to defend faculty rights in a similar manner. One of the many facets of their agenda will be improving the working conditions of non-tenure track faculty, for example, by providing a firmer sense of job and wage security. The GEO is highly invested in this cause—the working conditions of the faculty have a direct effect on the working and learning conditions of graduate and undergraduate students.

Chanee Anderson, the chair of the GEO’s Solidarity Committee, explained, “like the graduate employees of UIUC, our faculty devote countless hours, resources, and sacrifices to make this the great institution that it is. Where anyone’s call of duty requires giving of themselves, their rights and voices as laborers must have a respected place.”

The CFA’s organizing affiliates are the American Federation of Teachers, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, and the American Association of University Professors. For more information about the CFA and their mission, visit their website.

Congratulations to the Chicago Teachers Union on their Victory!

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!

Members of GEO Local 6300 at a Chicago Teachers Union solidarity rally