Today the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed that graduate
employees in Illinois have the right to collective bargaining. The Supreme
Court decision is the definitive ruling in the lengthy legal battle over
whether graduate employees in Illinois have the right to unionize.
Today’s decision marks a major victory in the GEO’s struggle
for union recognition.
The case will now be sent to the Illinois Education Labor
Relations Board (IELRB). The IELRB will mediate a hearing process for
determining which graduate employees will be included in the bargaining
unit.* After unit determination, graduate employees will vote in a democratic
In response to today’s ruling, GEO co-president Kate Bullard
commented, “This is a major victory for education in Illinois. When teachers
and researchers have a voice in their working conditions they do their
best work. We hope that the administration will start working with rather
than against their graduate employees by moving efficiently through the
This decision came on the GEO’s Day of Solidarity, at which
hundreds of undergraduates, graduates, and faculty rallied in support
of graduate employees’ right to collective bargaining.
Co-president Theresa Ferguson added, “At this point, the
membership will have to decide where to go from here. We will continue
to advocate for the rights of all graduate employees to bargain collectively
with the University.”
* The bargaining unit is the group of employees formally
represented by the union in collective bargaining.
For more on the Appellate Court ruling that the Supreme
Court upheld, click here.