Champaign, IL – On November 8, from Noon until 1, the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) will stage a rally outside of the Undergrad Library at 1402 W. Gregory Dr. on the campus of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
The message of the rally is that the GEO members, who teach 20 percent of the course hours on campus, want to continue their work and continue to be part of the quality education and research of the University of Illinois.
The GEO has been negotiating for a new contract since April, meeting with the administration twenty times. The GEO contract expired nearly three months ago. This means that more than 2,400 Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants on campus go to work each day with uncertainty about their future wages, health care, and the security of their tuition waivers.
Thursday marks the final day before the GEO negotiations will enter federal mediation, which will begin on Friday from 10 am until 2 pm, at the Levis Faculty Center, 919 West Illinois Street, on campus.
The GEO hopes that federal mediation will improve bargaining communication and facilitate agreement on the remaining issues. However, the GEO is also moving forward with preliminary plans for a work action in case it becomes necessary. These preparations include taking a formal strike authorization vote next week.
GEO representatives will be available at the rally to talk to the press about the upcoming mediation and the strike authorization vote.
The GEO recently took a bargaining survey and more than 1,200 graduate students participated. 95 percent of them said tuition waivers were their most important issue.
“The issue of tuition waivers is not going away,” said Stephanie Seawell, GEO spokesperson. “We are serious about this issue, we are committed to seeing it resolved at the bargaining table, and our membership expects that there will be serious conversations about tuition waivers on Friday.”
In 2009, approximately 1,000 GEO members went on strike and successfully won tuition waiver protection in their contract.
GEO-6300 is a member of the IFT-AFT, AFL-CIO. For more information, please contact Stephanie Seawell, at 217-722-7544 or firstname.lastname@example.org. http://uigeo.org.