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
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS UC UNITED COALITION STAGES 300 PERSON MARCH AND RALLY FOR MARCH 4TH NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION TO DEFEND PUBLIC EDUCATION
UC United Coalition challenges University of Illinois administration to follow example of Southern Illinois University in freezing tuition
URBANA-CHAMPAIGN (March 4) – On March 4, 2010, over 300 members of the UC United Coalition of students, workers, and faculty staged a march and rally for an accessible, diverse, and democratic University of Illinois of Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) on the UIUC campus as part of the March 4th National Day of Action to Defend Public Education. Rally participants marched from the campus’ Alma Mater statue and around the entire Liberal Arts and Sciences Quad before staging a rally in front of the Swanlund Administration Building.
State funding for public education has been decreasing for years, and the University of Illinois administration has consistently accepted budget cuts as it transforms the University into a privatized and corporatized institution. The UC United Coalition will be present at the April 21st lobbying day in Springfield, and we call on the University of Illinois administration to join us in not only pleading with the state to avoid further cuts, but in demanding that public education be recognized as vital for the future prosperity of the state and funded accordingly.
The major burden of the lack of state funding has been placed on low income workers and students, rather than on bloated administrative units and salaries. Speakers at the rally called for a tuition and fee freeze in the face of University of Illinois Interim President Ikenberry’s recent statements that significant tuition increases, layoffs and furloughs are inevitable and necessary responses to the shortfall in Illinois state funding for the University.
The planned tuition increase will functionally transform the University of Illinois into a private institution that funds almost all of its instruction and research through tuition. This is completely contrary to the mission of the University as a public, land grant institution.
Without direct action in support of public education, higher education in the state of Illinois will be available only to the wealthy. As Susan Davis, CFA Executive Committee member and Professor in the Department of Communication said, the University of Illinois administration’s policy “places the burden of the current budget shortfall on personnel and students.”
The University of Illinois administration’s claim that tuition increases, layoffs, and furloughs are a necessary response to the state budget shortfall is especially disappointing given that President Glenn Poshard of Southern Illinois University (SIU) has pledged that SIU will not increase tuition. SIU will instead explore other options to weather the shortfall including borrowing and drawing on University reserves. President Poshard told Codell Rodriguez of The Southern on March 4 that “financial troubles have been on the backs of middle to low income families for too long.”
UC United Coalition members agree. Because Illinois citizens, students and low paid workers are suffering the most from the current economy, “it doesn’t make sense for the state to pull out of funding for higher education, and for the University to hike tuition and fees,” said Mukta Tripathy, Graduate Employees’ Organization Officer-at-Large.
Southern Illinois University faces an even more serious budget shortfall than the University of Illinois, as it receives a much higher percentage of its overall funding from the state. The UC United Coalition applauds President Ikenberry’s public opposition to state budget cuts and his efforts to mobilize alumni lobbying campaigns. However, these efforts are negated by the UI administration’s policies in response to existing cuts. Speaking at the rally, UC United Coalition and GEO representative Peter Campbell called on President Ikenberry to follow the leadership of President Poshard and refuse to solve Illinois’ budget problems on the backs of those people who are hardest hit by the recession.
The UC United Coalition demands transparency and accountability in budget decisions so that the University of Illinois administration can work with the campus community to find creative ways to address the budget shortfall. We reject the claim that there is no possibility of drawing on non-state revenue sources in the UI budget to fund instruction and personnel. For more information, please see the Graduate Employees’ Organization fact sheet “Myths and Facts about the University of Illinois Budget” attached to this release, which can also be downloaded at http://www.uigeo.org/2010/03/03/geo-disputes-administration-budget-claims-releases-ui-budget-myths-and-facts-document/.
The UC United Coalition includes the Graduate Employees’ Organization (AFT/IFT Local 6300, AFL-CIO), the Campus Labor Coalition, the Undergrad-Graduate Alliance, the Campus Faculty Association, La Colectiva, and the Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority. UC United demands that the University of Illinois (UI) administration center the priorities of the University of Illinois around access, diversity, democracy, and quality. Specifically, UC United calls for a tuition and fee freeze, an end to layoffs and furloughs of workers and faculty, a democratic campus with shared governance in policy decisions, the recruitment and retention of a diverse campus population of workers, students, and faculty that is truly representative of the State of Illinois, and transparency about the UI budget. The UC United Coalition also calls for progressive state and federal funding for all levels of public education.
For more information about the UC United Coalition, the March 4 rally, and other upcoming events, please visit our event page at uicrisis.org and/or contact any of the following representatives: Peter Campbell, GEO Communications Officer, 253-222-5861, firstname.lastname@example.org, uigeo.org; Harriet Murav, Campus Faculty Association, 217-359-5394, and Jim Barret, Campus Faculty Association, 217-352-2714; Pete Rhomberg, Undergraduate-Graduate Alliance, (708) 828-9926, email@example.com.
UC UNITED RALLY FOR AN ACCESSIBLE, DIVERSE, AND DEMOCRATIC UIUC: March 4, 2010 – assemble at Alma Mater at noon, march at 12:15, rally in front of Swanlund 12:30-12:50. Electronic versions of flyers and posters can be downloaded here. RSVP here, and see the event website here. A copy of the UC United Press release announcing the rally is available here. Read the “budget myths and facts” sheet after the jump.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: GRADUATE EMPLOYEES’ ORGANIZATION SAYS TUITION INCREASES ARE “NEITHER NECESSARY NOR APPROPRIATE” TO ADDRESS UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS BUDGET SHORTFALL
New fact sheet shows graduate employees generate surplus cash for University of Illinois
URBANA-CHAMPAIGN (March 3): Promoting world-class public education at the University of Illinois does not require a tuition increase, the University of Illinois graduate employees union said today – but it does require transparency about the school’s budget.
“We applaud Interim President Stanley Ikenberry’s March 2nd statements to the Champaign News-Gazette that the U of I will look to cut from administrative programs in response to the current state budget shortfall,” said Peter Campbell, communications officer for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO). “However, the facts show that a tuition increase is neither necessary nor appropriate. The UI administration has failed to explain why money from reserves, the UI Foundation, and cutting from the top will not be enough to address the shortfall.”
In a statement released today, the GEO calls on the UI administration to work transparently and creatively with workers, students and faculty to respond to state budget shortfalls in a manner that does not place the primary burden on workers and students.
The statement, “University of Illinois Budget Myths and Facts,” responds directly to administration budget claims that the GEO feels are questionable.
“Ikenberry’s statements signal a privatized U of I that is accessible only to the wealthy,” said Campbell. “Investing in the university’s workers and students is the best way to build an accessible, diverse and quality educational future for us all.”
Because Illinois citizens, students and low paid workers are suffering the most from the current economy, “it doesn’t make sense for the state to pull out of funding for higher education, and for the University to hike tuition and fees,” said Mukta Tripathy, GEO Officer-at-Large.
The GEO and the newly formed UC United coalition call for a tuition and fee freeze, an end to layoffs and furloughs of workers and faculty, a democratic campus with shared governance in policy decisions, the recruitment and retention of a diverse campus population of workers, students, and faculty that is truly representative of the State of Illinois, and transparency about the UI budget. The UC United Coalition also calls for progressive state and federal funding for all levels of public education.
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. On March 4th, the GEO will join the “UC United” coalition of students, workers, and faculty in Urbana-Champaign will hold a major rally as part of the March 4th National Day of Action to Defend Public Education.
For more information, please contact Peter Campbell, GEO Communications Officer, at 253-222-5861 or firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can also be found on our website at uigeo.org.
Read the fact sheet after the jump:
RALLY: March 4, 2010 – assemble at Alma Mater at noon, march at 12:15, rally in front of Swanlund 12:30-12:50. Electronic versions of flyers and posters can be downloaded here. RSVP here, and see the event website here. A copy of the UC United Press release announcing the rally is available on this post after the jump.
Please join us for the UC United Coalition’s March 4th Rally for the Future of an Accessible, Diverse, and Democratic UIUC. The UIUC rally will be part of the March 4th National Day of Action to Defend Public Education (read the national calls). The GEO has officially endorsed the March 4th Day of Action, and we call on all GEO members to participate.
The UC United Coalition, which includes the GEO, the Campus Labor Coalition, the Campus Faculty Association, the Undergraduate-Graduate Alliance, La Colectiva, and the Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, demands a UIUC truly committed to access, diversity, democracy, and quality, and that the U of I administration stop pushing the burden of the budget shortfall down to workers and students.
While we worked incredibly hard last semester to win a contract that is already working to protect our members through the grievance process, the University administration is still moving toward a privatized future for UIUC that includes fewer graduate employees, larger class sizes, and less flexibility for graduate appointments. Campus units and departments are being forced to plan for drastic cuts that will significantly impact graduate employees, despite the fact that an independent audit from the American Association of University Professionals claims that the U of I financial situation is “strong,” and that these measures are in no way required by the current shortfall in state funding. Download a flyer summarizing the audit here.
We know more than anyone on campus that only through direct action can we continue to take back control of the direction of our University. Many of the members of the UC United Coalition walked with us on the lines – now their jobs and livelihoods are being threatened by irresponsible and non-transparent decisions by the UI administration – so let’s walk with them!
We worked long and hard to win an historic contract. Now let’s build on those gains – starting on March 4th!
UC United press release announcing the rally: