Members interested in the “Occupy the Quad” rally tomorrow should go here:
You can download the flyer event organizers have created here.
The members of the Graduate Employees Organization, Illinois Federation of Teachers Local 6300, AFL-CIO, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, enthusiastically endorse the America Wants to Work National Week of Action sponsored by our parent organization, the AFL-CIO.
We stand in solidarity with the National Week of Action in two ways: first, as we enter a bargaining year, our daily, weekly, and monthly organizing efforts share the common goal of increasing access to high quality graduate employment opportunities at a major public University in the United States. In particular, our organizing efforts around increasing union membership, securing full tuition waivers for graduate employees, and insisting on fair wages and benefits have the goal of making graduate research and employment accessible to minority and working class students in the United States and Illinois.
Second, as we organize around our membership and our contract, our members continue to participate in solidarity actions with local, state, and national unions around the country. Specifically, we endorse all actions in Champaign-Urbana connected with the AFL-CIO National Week of Action, including the Occupy C-U rally in Champaign on October 15. We encourage our members to join other local unions and activists to demonstrate for the right of all working people to have access to good jobs.
Check out the Facebook Event page for Occupy CU (10/15) here: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=302100619806388
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.
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.
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.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: OVER 300 GRAD EMPLOYEES FROM ALL THREE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS GRADUATE EMPLOYEE UNION LOCALS STAGE 11/12 DEMONSTRATIONS 11/12 IN SUPPORT OF UIUC AND UIC GRADUATE EMPLOYEES’ ORGANIZATION CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS
DEMONSTRATION AT BOARD OF TRUSTEES MEETING IN SPRINGFIELD INSPIRES PUBLIC CONVERSATION BETWEEN GEO LEAD NEGOTIATOR AND TOP UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS ADMINISTRATORS
UIUC GEO HAS VOTED TO AUTHORIZE STRIKE AGAINST BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
SPRINGFIELD, CHICAGO, AND URBANA-CHAMPAIGN (November 12): On Thursday, November 12, over 300 graduate employees and their allies staged rallies in support of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and the University of Illinois at Chicago Graduate Employees’ Organizations (GEO) efforts to secure a fair contract from the University of Illinois (UI) administration. In Springfield, over 80 members of the UIUC Graduate Employees’ Organization, American Federation of Teachers/Illinois Federation of Teachers Local 6300, AFL-CIO along with members of the University of Illinois at Springfield GEO marched at 8:15 am to the University of Illinois at Springfield Public Affairs Center and demonstrated in outside of the meeting of the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. Terry Reed of the Illinois Federation of Teachers and President of the Springfield Central Labor Council, and Ellie Sullivan, President of The University Professionals of Illinois, American Federation of Teachers/Illinois Federation of Teachers Local 4100, addressed the demonstrators. With state television media looking on, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Christopher Kennedy, former University of Illinois President Joe White, and Interim University of Illinois President Stanley Ikenberry came out of the Board of Trustees meeting to talk to GEO lead negotiator Kerry Pimblott. GEO members also visibly attended the public portion of the meeting, and will have an opportunity for public comment to the Board today at 2:15 pm.
In Urbana-Champaign, over 200 GEO members and their allies demonstrated in support of a fair contract by marching from the Swanlund Administration Building to the Liberal Arts and Sciences Quad. The GEO will make photographs of the march and demonstration available to the press. In Chicago, over 50 members and allies of the Graduate Employees’ Organization, University of Illinois Chicago, Local 6297, IFT-AFT, AFL-CIO, demonstrated in solidarity with the Springfield and Champaign demonstrations.
Members of the UIC GEO, the UIC SEIU, and Peter Campbell, UIUC GEO Communications Officer, addressed the demonstration in Chicago. Rich Potter, member of the UIUC GEO who was at the Chicago rally, said he was extremely disappointed that administrators claim they don’t have enough funding to provide a living wage to graduate employees, yet they diverted over one million dollars toward scholarships, legal fees, and generous severance packages related to the admissions scandal.
All three demonstrations were staged in support of ongoing contract negotiations between the UIUC and UIC Graduate Employees’ Organizations and the administration of the University of Illinois. The UIUC GEO is seeking a contract that includes protection fortuition waivers and a minimum salary set at the University’s own estimate of a living wage in Champaign-Urbana. The UIC GEO is seeking a contract that seeks a living wage, improved healthcare, and an end to tuition differentials. Both union locals have been met with stalling, delay, and regressive contract proposals from the University of Illinois administration.
All press inquiries can be directed to Peter Campbell, UIUC GEO Communications Officer, 253.222.5861. The University of Illinois Chicago demonstration organizer and contact person is Jason Leto, Staff Field Organizer, Graduate Employees’ Organization, University of Illinois Chicago, Local 6297, IFT-AFT, AFL-CIO, 850.345.7617, email@example.com.
The Graduate Employees’ Organization, American Federation of Teachers/Illinois Federation of Teachers Local 6300, AFL-CIO, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is a labor union representing all teaching and graduate assistants (TAs and GAs) on the UIUC campus. With over 2600 GEO members, and over 2600 graduate employees represented in the bargaining unit, the GEO is one of the largest higher education union locals in the United States. Over the course of a three day vote, an overwhelming 92% of participating UIUC GEO members voted last week to authorize a strike against the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. With the vote, GEO members have given the strike committee of the UIUC GEO a clear mandate to call a strike at any time.
GEO members turned out in huge numbers for the first WORK-IN. There were over 100 GAs and TAs in the Illini Union making visible the work they do every day from grading to meeting with students to planning classes.
The Work-in was so successful that GEO members have decided to continue it every week.
The Work-in will take place every Wednesday from 11-4. Come out, bring your work, and tell your students to meet you in the Courtyard Cafe. By making our work visible to the university community we can show everyone how valuable we are to the functioning of this university in our efforts to secure a fair contract!