GEO Work Stoppage Overwhelming Success

70% of T.A.s Take Part; 8,000 – 10,000 Student Affected Each Day

November 29, 2001

The first-ever GEO work stoppage is in full swing today despite the wretched
weather. Pickets have encircled the targeted buildings. "The Quad
is almost empty today,” said undergraduate Clay Campbell, Vice-Chair
of the Graduate Affairs Committee of Illinois Student Government. “Very
few students are going to classes." At 1:00 a contingent of 75 picketers
made their way into (for the second time in two days) Swanlund Administration
Building, where they sang a GEO Christmas Carol to Chancellor Nancy Cantor,
who was on hand to hear the singing, but was disinclined to participate
in the event.

Approximately 350 of the 500 TAs in the 5 target buildings ceased work
during the two-day stoppage, a 70% level of participation. "This
is a great turnout," said GEO Co-President Uma Pimplaskar. "For
our very first work stoppage, a 70% level of participation is remarkable,
and it shows, too. The Quad has been empty all day." TAs are responsible
for anywhere from 20 to 90 students; some 8-10,000 students were affected
each day by the 350 TAs walking out. In addition, dozens of faculty members
cancelled their classes, or moved them to alternate locations to avoid
crossing picket lines. "Faculty members know what we’re doing is
right," said GEO Communications Officer Dave Kamper. "They know
a union won’t raise walls between students and faculty; it will tear them
down." Despite Administration claims that the work stoppage’s effect
was minimal, the action has been a tremendous success. "If they don’t
think we have a lot of support, we’re happy to have it tested any time
in an election," said GEO Treasurer Jennifer Shaffer.

The work stoppage will conclude with a rally tonight at 5:00 at the University
Alma Mater statue. While classes will resume normally on Friday, the GEO
warns that further work stoppages will occur if the Administration doesn’t
recognize graduate employees’. "This isn’t about money; it’s about
justice," said GEO Co-President Kate Bullard. "The Administration
may think a union isn’t in our best interests, it’s not their decision
to make. As workers, it should be our right to choose union representation."