Declaration of Solidarity
Solidarity Committee, U of I (U-C) G.E.O
In the granting of the constitution to ourselves and those who come after us, the G.E.O considers itself a body that believes in, and practices participatory democracy. The Solidarity Committee of the GEO is bound by those principles and their realisation through inclusive, just and non-discriminatory approaches. These approaches require us to mutually engage with the communities we consider ourselves a part of – locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. At each such level, ideas of social justice take on many different meanings, and we will aim to be consistent in our positions and mindful of their historical and political contexts. We want to maintain active and collaborative associations with movements for social, economic, racial and gender justice, where we contribute in whatever manner possible, materially or intellectually, towards furthering solidarity and comradeship.
While we remain open to the various ways in which others engage with us, we also aim to maintain a consistent principled endorsement of certain values in the way we approach others. Prime among those are progressive definitions of democratic rights and civil liberties, that acknowledge the diversity in social and cultural contexts of different people around the world. We principally reject acts of discrimination and force along the lines of race, gender, language, sexual orientation, class, caste, ethnicity, religious belief, and nationality, and stand in solidarity with the democratic desires of people to live in societies that are not defined by the chauvinism of identities. In that sense, we are committed to campaigns, movements and actions against class discrimination, racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia. We also support those who stand against environmental degradation, destruction of public space, financial insecurity, imperial war, and state occupation.
In our understanding of social justice, we are keenly aware of how deeply political interests in the world are conjoined with capitalist processes, that develop within a culture of impunity, where the labor, learning and struggle of common people are adversely affected. Keeping in mind our dedication to the broad spectrum of issues surrounding labor, learning and political struggle, we approach our work of solidarity through many forms of action. These include, but are not limited to, financial endorsement; intellectual investment through public statements of support; and physical and material collaboration through attendance, telecommunications and digital outreach, rallying, petitions, signage, and other tools and methods that may be deemed appropriate.
Bylaws Concerning the Functioning of the Solidarity Committee of the GEO*
The Solidarity Committee is the committee of the Graduate Employees’ Organization that endorses and supports campaigns, events, movements, individuals, and organizations devoted towards the principles of justice endorsed by the GEO Constitution. The following bylaws, in conjunction with other bylaws as well as the GEO Constitution, will govern the functioning of the Solidarity Committee in relation to the GEO membership and the various communities with which it may choose to stand in solidarity.
Endorsement can include one or more of the following:
- Organizing in support of said campaign, event, movement, individuals and/or organizations including GEO member turnout,
- Financial support including in-‐kind donations and direct donations,
- Usage of the GEO logo and/or name in relation to the campaign,
- Usage of office equipment, including but not restricted to stationery, speaker systems, printers and machinery, tools for buttons and signage,
- Any and all other kinds of support to outside groups, events, and individuals on which the Solidarity Committee discusses and votes.
The procedures for endorsements will be as follows:
- Partisan Candidates for Political Office:
The GEO will endorse candidates for political office only in light of the candidate’s previous work on issues which the GEO is expressly concerned with. Candidates will be endorsed on a specific case-‐by-‐case basis, depending on the issues at stake which can directly affect the GEO and the local community of graduate employees.
General membership will be alerted through a mass email one week in advance of a Solidarity Committee meeting in which such an endorsement will be discussed. Members of the Solidarity Committee will present to the membership, their perspectives on the candidate along with any literature or research that may be important, before opening the endorsement up for discussion and vote. The endorsement requires the approval of 2/3rds of GEO members present at the meeting. The endorsement also requires a Solidarity Committee quorum of 4 (consisting of the Solidarity Officer and 3 other Solidarity Committee Members), as well as the Coordinating Committee.
- Endorsements, Statements and Actions of Solidarity:
The Solidarity Committee will carefully study events which violate the principles of justice espoused in the Declaration of Solidarity before putting together a Statement or Letter of Solidarity with concerned individuals, campaigns and organizations. For such purposes, the Solidarity Committee may also work with specific Solidarity Research Groups comprising members of the GEO as well as non-‐members. The Solidarity Committee may appoint members, who will work on a voluntary basis, on a Solidarity Research Group, for the purposes of putting together a detailed response of the GEO towards any concerned campaigns, organizations or individuals.
The Solidarity Committee will not distinguish between justice campaigns which have local, regional, national and/or international significance, when deciding upon possible forms of endorsement. A Solidarity Research Group may be constituted on any contentious matters in order to put together a detailed report on the issue before the Solidarity Committee passes any form of endorsement.
Actions of Solidarity and endorsements, namely actions where resources of the GEO are given out to individuals, organisations, or campaign groups will require a vote of the Solidarity Committee members, after quorum of 4 that includes the Chair of the Solidarity Committee.
- Membership Feedback:
The Solidarity Committee will undertake the following in order to derive its core avenues of action in any year:
- A bi-‐annual survey to be held in September and April, or around that time, consulting membership on issues of solidarity that they are concerned about. Such questionnaires and the responses to the survey will be used to define operating principles until the next such survey brings in alternative priorities. Operating principles will be followed in the manner similar to the GEO’s bargaining teams.
- GEO-‐Ls at regular intervals, and at least one presentation at a General Membership Meeting, informing membership of the progress made on campaigns run by the Solidarity committee, and seeking feedback.
- Open meetings in order to solicit opinion and suggestions regarding ongoing or future campaigns to be undertaken by the Solidarity Committee. While such open meetings are mandatory for political endorsements for elected office, they may also be held for matters which the Solidarity Committee considers to be of wider importance to members and the Champaign Urbana community.
- Membershipin the Solidarity Committee:
- Membership in the Solidarity Committee will require the Coordinating Committee to take a vote upon a candidate. Their candidacy may be proposed by the Chair of the Solidarity Committee to the Coordinating Committee. Members will have full voting rights on all issues that require a vote.
- Community members are also eligible to be active members of the SolidarityCommittee. Their candidacy has to be nominated by the Chair of the Solidarity Committee to the Coordinating Committee, after consultation with the other members of the Solidarity Committee. Community members will have voting rightson proposals only after a quorum of 4 Solidarity Committee members, who are also
GEO members have voted on the issue.
- GEO staff, including the Community Organizer, will be considered members of the Solidarity Committee in recognition of the active engagement required of their job. Staff members will have voting rights on all Solidarity matters that are up for votes, except where they may be a conflict of interest between any other engagement of the Staff member and their work at the GEO.
- An annual Solidarity Committee Budget shall be recommended by the GEO Treasurer and approved by the General Membership of the GEO.
- The Solidarity Committee shall then appoint one of its members to be Solidarity Committee Treasurer, and this person will keep track of the Solidarity Committee Budget for that fiscal year. Votes regarding financial contributions requires the approval of 2/3rds of Solidarity Committee members who are voting.
- The Solidarity Committee shall be entrusted to use the Solidarity Committee budget to make donations to outside organizations that are in line with the missionof the GEO and the principles espoused in the Declaration of Solidarity. Except as otherwise prohibited, the Solidarity Committee shall have the authority to make all financial decisions regarding contributions, namely to whom money shall be contributed and how much.
- The Solidarity Committee shall not donate more than 10% of its annual budget to any single organization without the express approval of the Coordinating Committee. The Solidarity Committee shall not donate money in excess of its annual Solidarity Committee Budget without the express approval of the Coordinating Committee.
BYLAW CONCERNING THE ENDORSEMENT OF CANDIDATES FOR UNIVERSITY- WIDE OR DEPARTMENTAL OFFICE.
- The Solidarity Committee of the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) may resolve to formally endorse a candidate for university-‐wide or department office. This includes, but is not limited to candidates for Board of Trustees, Student Senate, and Departmental Committees.
- The procedure for bringing a resolution concerning the endorsement of a candidate for university-‐wide or department office is as follows:
- One or more GEO members (the “Sponsor”) must sponsor the candidate and the resolution to endorse him or her. The Sponsor begins the endorsement process by appearing or before or notifying the Solidarity Committee to express this intent. The SC meeting at which the resolution is voted on must occur at least seven (7) days after the Sponsor gives notice to the SC.
- After being notified of the Sponsor’s intent, the SC and Coordinating Committee (CC) have a period of fourteen (14) days to request documents from and meetings with the Sponsor or the candidate.
- GEO Members must be informed of the resolution at least seven (7) days prior to a vote at the Solidarity Committee meeting where the endorsement vote will take place by email or other mass communication.
- The Sponsor and the candidate may speak at the Solidarity Committee meeting where the vote will occur. Additionally, GEO members as well as other GEO committees may inform the Solidarity Committee of their recommendations, all members present at the Solidarity Committee meeting will be allowed to vote.
*as amended at a GEO General Membership Meeting on December 4, 2014