G.E.O. files Petition for Election

On Monday, April 15, the GEO filed a petition with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) seeking a union election for the roughly 5,800 graduate employees (GAs, RAs and TAs) at the U of Illinois! The petition was the culmination of our 6 month campaign to build support for the union, and the first formal step toward real representation at the University.
The final count of authorization cards was 3,226. That’s 55% of all grad. employees (and the cards are still coming in). This is almost double the legally required minimum for filing, and demonstrates both the hard work that went into the campaign, and the strength of pro-union sentiment among grads. Most importantly, a majority of grads in each job category signed cards!
We had hoped that such a strong showing of interest would encourage the UIUC administration not to block the legal process leading to a union election. However, judging from quotes in the press and a recent memo to faculty, the administration will attempt to block our petition by claiming that we are students first and foremost and therefore not eligable for representation. We’ll know more in a week or so when the University officially responds to our petition, but we’re ready to talk to them anytime they want to.
A big congratulations to all the folks who made this happen! Without the hard work of GEO volunteers, and the over-work of our GEO staff, this campaign would not have been a success. Also key to this campaign was the financial and technical assistance of the Illinois Federation of Teachers (say thanks to your grade-school and high-school teachers), as well as the advice and solidarity of graduate employees across the country. Thanks to all the card-signers and supporters, and to all those who tolerated our insistent canvassing during the last week of the drive (“excuse me, are you a grad student…? Have you heard about the GEO…?”)!
Come to the April 22nd Membership Meeting to find out more and to help chart the future course of the GEO. And remember, This University (and this Union) Works Because We Do!