GEO Wins in the Court of Appeals

Contact: Kate Bullard, GEO Co-President, 344-8283
Theresa Ferguson, GEO Co-President, 344-8283
Storm Heter, GEO Communications Officer, 344-8283
The Illinois Court of Appeals ruled today that Illinois graduate employees have the right to collective bargaining. The decision overturns a 1998 ruling of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB), and sends the case back to the Labor Board for further hearings.
The University of Illinois administration has relied on the 1998 Labor Board decision to justify its anti-union policy in regard to graduate employees.
” This decision affirms what we have long known–graduate employees have the right to union representation under the law,” said GEO co-president Kate Bullard. “The University administration now has an opportunity to allow the democratic process to go forward, and we are ready to begin dialogue at any time. Further delay can only cause campus strife and waste more taxpayer money.”
Background: Graduate student employees have collective bargaining rights in eleven states, including Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota. Nationwide, nearly 30 campuses have recognized unions of graduate employees. Recent decisions by the National Labor Relations Board have opened the door to collective bargaining for graduate employees at private universities.
In 1996, 3,226 graduate employees at UIUC signed their names in support of the Graduate Employees’ Organization’s petition for a union election to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB). In 1997 a majority of graduate employees voting in a community-sponsored election chose the GEO as their union. A 1998 ruling by the IELRB excluded all graduate assistants from collective bargaining rights. The GEO appealed the Board’s decision to the Illinois Court of Appeals, and today’s decision is a result of that appeal.