After the jump are .png versions of our SEIU solidarity signs – options for students, campus labor, grad employees, general, and more!
To: the members of the Service Employees International Union, Local 73, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
From: The Members of the Graduate Employees Organization, Illinois Federation of Teachers/American Federation of Teachers, Local 6300 (GEO)
We, the members of the Graduate Employees Organization, Illinois Federation of Teachers/American Federation of Teachers, Local 6300 (GEO), stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers of the Service Employees International Union, Local 73, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (SEIU Local 73), in their struggle for a good contract.
SEIU Local 73 is asking for wage increases tied to inflation, and is trying to maintain staffing levels of full-time, permanent employees.
The Administration, claiming a difficult financial situation, wants to freeze wages, and eliminate permanent food service and facilities employees, replacing them with temporary workers or outside contractors. At the same time, the University is planning to raise students’ tuition by nearly 7% in Fall–an increase that will, if the recent past is any indication, go to funding a bloated administration.
The UIUC Administration is asking workers and students to share the sacrifice, while administrators get raises.
The GEO stands with SEIU Local 73, and calls on the UIUC negotiating team to stop the months of stalling and agree to the SEIU’s contract proposals.
We call on the University system and State of Illinois to settle their back payments issues, and fully fund education in the state of Illinois.
We say it is time for the spending priorities of the University to reflect its founding mission — “Learning and Labor” — rather than its recent unofficial attitude to its employees of “Learning to Labor for Less.”
If the UIUC Negotiating team does not bargain with SEIU Local 73, and forces SEIU Local 73 to take strike action on April 18, as the members of SEIU Local 73 have indicated they are willing to do, the members of the GEO will support the sisters and brothers of SEIU Local 73, just as members of SEIU Local 73 supported us during our strike in 2009. The GEO does not support a wildcat strike or withholding labor in any way, but GEO members will join the SEIU picket lines in solidarity in their free time.
The members of SEIU Local 73 are fighting for the future of public employees in the state of Illinois, just as hundreds of thousands did in Wisconsin earlier this year.
As GEO members stands with public employees in Wisconsin and elsewhere, we stand in solidarity with our fellow public employees here at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The Members of the GEO
IMPORTANT UPDATE: The solidarity vigil will temporarily be relocated to the *Illini Union* from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm tomorrow (Thursday, February 24).
9 a.m.- 2 p.m. Illini Union: Solidarity Teach-In, Grade-In, Meet-In, Drink-Coffee-In
Show your solidarity with workers in Madison and throughout the Midwest.
12 noon – 12:50 p.m. Publics, Unions, Movements: discussion with Monica Bielski Boris of the Labor Education Program
University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright St., Champaign, Lower Level
(SEIU supporters can head for FAR/PAR before the 1pm picket).
Join YMCA vigil participants and community members for a discussion on the legal, social and regional dimensions of unions and union building. Have questions about collective bargaining, public resources, or solidarity tools—-then this is the place for you and your allies. Professor Monica Bielski Boris (http://www.ler.illinois.edu/faculty/fp_bielski.html), from the School of Labor and Employment Relations, will introduce a series of topics and questions, including…
* What are public sector unions? How and why do they differ from state to state?
* What competing myths and realities are at work in labor and opposition movements ?
* How are organizing tactics nurtured and altered?
* What types of political strategies are either at work or stifled in the Midwest?
* What is the state of labor and social movement education on our campus and in our communities?
1-2 p.m. SEIU Picket at the FAR (Florida Avenue Residence Hall)
On College Court near the intersection of Lincoln and Florida Residence Hall —support SEIU in their contract struggle, practice your chanting, and support workers’ rights right here in Champaign-Urbana
7 p.m., Patricio Guzman’s sterling, epic documentary The Battle of Chile, parts 1 (“The Insurrection of the Bourgeoisie”, 96 minutes) and 2 (“The Coup D’Etat”, 88 minutes)
Covering workers, politics in Chile, and events leading to the coup of Salvator Allende in 1973. We will have the opportunity to think about workers’ protests in an international context, both historically and in our present moment.
As we get settled into a new academic year, keep in mind the following first-month events with the GEO – let’s all keep up the good work to protect our contract and the future of public education in Illinois!
1. First Steward’s Council meeting of the year, Wednesday, September 1 – thanks to everyone who attended a wonderfully productive meeting!
3. Labor Day Parade – Monday, September 6 – thanks to the AFL-CIO of Champaign County for organizing the parade, and to all of our drum playing, banner carrying, joyful noise-making members, as well as the parade’s Grand Marshall, Kerry Pimblott!
4. First General Membership Meeting of AY 2010-11 – Thursday, September 9, 5:30 pm in the YMCA, 1001 S. Wright Street in Champaign. We’ll be discussing organizing plans for the coming year, and in particular continuing to build on the strategies to combat the contract violations around FAA tuition waiver policy that members began to develop at the tuition waiver forum in July.
5. Stay tuned for upcoming GEO organizing around the Board of Trustees meeting in Urbana on September 22 and the second National Day of Action to Defend Public Education on October 7th.
The Graduate College has taken away full tuition waivers in several programs and replaced them with only base-rate (in-state) tuition waivers. Incoming students in these programs may have to cover the almost $14,000 difference out-of-pocket. During our strike, the administration promised that they would not do this. THEY LIED.
We went on strike in November precisely to guard against this kind of change in waiver policy, and because of all of your efforts and sacrifice we won language protecting GA’s and TA’s tuition waivers. The union will utilize every tool at its disposal to ensure that the rights and benefits of all graduate employees are protected. However, as past struggles for tuition waiver security have demonstrated, the single best way to ensure that access does not become delimited is to organize collectively and apply pressure to the University through protest and direct action.
Help defend the Arts at UIUC! Join us for an emergency Tuition Waiver Forum on the evening of July 19, 5:30 pm.
Join the Facebook Event page here.
An Open Letter to top University of Illinois Administrators
From the Graduate Employees’ Organization
April 19, 2010
Dear Sirs and Madams,
As you know, the State of Illinois owes the University of Illinois system about $500 million, with a significant portion of that amount due to the Urbana campus. As the budget crisis has come to a head, we of the Graduate Employees’ Organization will continue to contribute our efforts to ensure the future of accessible and high quality education at the University of Illinois.
We are committed to ensuring that the University of Illinois remain true to its mission as a public land grant institution to provide education that is truly accessible to all, regardless of economic background.
Quality and accessible education at our University is under siege—class size is growing to untenable proportions, faculty are being furloughed, and budget cuts are affecting the education we are able to provide our students. Meanwhile, Interim President Ikenberry told the Daily Illini that a tuition increase of at least 9% may be necessary, indicating also that the university may not be able to maintain its status as a top institution.
Rather than accept the necessity of making this institution even less accessible to working class students in Illinois, we’re renting buses and going to Springfield with other members of the UC United Coalition, the same consortium of labor unions and student activist groups that brought us the March 4th rally to defend public education.
The GEO and UC United will join thousands of education employees to not only ask for the money currently owed this university by the state, but to demand that state lawmakers recognize the importance of funding public education in Illinois. And we are saving you a seat on the bus.
So will you join us on April 21 to lobby in Springfield for accessible public education and fair treatment of University employees, and help us keep the University of Illinois at the top?
Let us know – we can be reached at email@example.com, or 217-344-8283.
Co-Presidents, Graduate Employees’ Organization, AFT/IFT Local 6300, AFL-CIO.
GEO SENDS OPEN LETTER TO UIUC ADMINISTRATION ASKING TOP ADMINISTRATORS TO JOIN EDUCATION EMPLOYEES TO LOBBY FOR STATE SUPPORT
Urbana-Champaign (April 19): On April 21, about 50 members of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) will join the UC United Coalition at the Illinois state capitol to lobby for increased support for public education.
The UC United Coalition, a consortium of labor unions and student activist groups at UIUC, has prepared a legislative action platform for its members to take to Springfield.
The platform includes support for tax increases that will support public education in Illinois, opposition to a bill that would strip 50% tuition waivers for children of University employees, principled opposition to furloughs for civil service employees, and a bill that would eliminate the ability of politicians to nominate persons for General Assembly scholarships.
GEO members have been preparing for “lobby day” for several weeks. “Our members are highly educated about our platform, and we look forward to productive conversations with state lawmakers,” said Stephanie Seawell, GEO Co-President and co-chair of the GEO’s lobbying and legislative action committee.
The GEO has also published an open letter to top University of Illinois administrators, urging them to join the UC United Coalition on lobby day. “Clearly, the University is facing a crisis in state funding, and President Ikenberry has been vocal in demanding more money from the state,” said Natalie Uhl, GEO Communications Officer. “We see lobby day as an excellent opportunity for President Ikenberry and top UIUC administrators to join campus workers and students to demand that Springfield recognize the benefits of adequate public funding for higher education.” A copy of the open letter is available on the GEO website.
The GEO and the UC United Coalition call on President Ikenberry to follow the example of Southern Illinois University President Glenn Poshard and pledge not to increase tuition. “Ikenberry’s statements about how the University should respond to the state budget shortfall signal a privatized U of I that will only be accessible to the wealthy,” said Peter Campbell, GEO communications committee member.
“Public funding for higher education pays dividends for the state economy,” said Uhl. “We hope that top U of I administrators join us in Springfield to send the message that for our flagship public institution, tuition increases, layoffs and furloughs are not an acceptable substitute for state funds.”
The Graduate Employees’ Organization, AFT/IFT Local 6300, AFL-CIO, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, represents approximately 2700 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 events like lobby day, the GEO continues to work for high quality and accessible public education in Illinois.
For more information, please contact Natalie Uhl, GEO Communications Officer, at 317-652-7298 or firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can also be found on our website at uigeo.org.
As outlined in the following press release, the University of Illinois at Chicago Graduate Employees’ Organization has voted overwhelmingly to call a strike against the Board of Trustees at the University of Illinois. Members of the UIUC GEO are taking a van of supporters up north on Tuesday, April 6, at 7 am – currently we have space for four additional members, and possibly more. If you are interested in going up north to support our sisters and brothers in the UIC GEO and would like space in the van, you need to contact Amy Livingston at amy.l.livingston by 4 pm TODAY, Monday, April 5th.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
GEO, UNION REPRESENTING 1400 TEACHERS AND RESEARCHERS AT UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS-CHICAGO, OVERWHELMINGLY VOTES TO STRIKE
Over the last two days, 84% of the Graduate Employees Organizations (GEO) members voted to call a strike against the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. GEO members will hold a rally on Monday, April 5, in support of their last scheduled federal mediation session with the UIC administration.
The GEO’s first agreement expired in August 2009, and GEO members have been negotiating a new contract since April 2009. After a year of negotiations, GEO members are on the verge of a strike because the UIC administration refuses to secure tuition waivers or address tuition differentials.
“All TAs and GAs currently receive a tuition waiver,” said Charles Moss, GEO President, “so the fact that the university wants the freedom to discontinue this benefit is unacceptable.”
Many GEO members earn less than $15,000 per year, but because of “Tuition Differential Fees,” imposed by UIC, pay up to $11,000 per year in fees back to the university. “We are being gouged by TD fees which increase every year without warning,” said Sarita Heer, Teaching Assistant in Art History. “All we want is to have input and know why these fees keep increasing. Isn’t it fair for UIC to tell us where our money is going?”
The GEO and the university will hold their final scheduled contract negotiation session with the help of a federal mediator on Monday, April 5, and will hold a rally outside Student Center East, 750 S. Halsted, Chicago, IL at 8:00 AM.
“So far, organizations at UIC representing more than 25,000 students and dozens of faculty have issued statements of support,” said Gina Gemmel, Teaching Assistant in English and GEO Communications Chair, “so we expect Monday’s rally to be massive, and we remain committed to reaching an agreement on Monday which includes tuition waiver security and gives us a say in Tuition Differential fees.”
The Graduate Employees Organization, AFT local 6297, AFL-CIO, is the labor union representing more than 1400 Teaching and Graduate Assistants at UIC who teach undergraduate classes, grade papers, work in offices, design websites, maintain databases, and perform other work crucial to the teaching and research missions of the university.
GEO Officer Elections for 2010-11 will be held this week from April 7-9, beginning at a General Membership Meeting April 7 at 5:30 pm in the YMCA, 1001 S. Wright Street in Champaign, and continuing throughout the day on April 8 and 9 in the GEO office (2nd floor of the YMCA, 1001 S. Wright Street). The ballot is available after the jump – many of these candidates have posted information about their candidacy to the Steward’s Council list. Contact email@example.com if you need them forwarded to you. If you are interested in running, but did not request to be on the ballot by the April 1st deadline, you are welcome and encouraged to do so as a write-in candidate. Your write-in candidacy can be posted to the website and announced over the Steward’s Council list in advance of the meeting – just contact firstname.lastname@example.org.