Champaign County Health Care Consumers Statement at GEO Work Stoppage Rally

Thursday, November 29, 2001
By Claudia Lennhoff
Read by Paulette Colemon
Graduate Employees — Congratulations on your strong and continuing struggle for union recognition.
We at the Champaign County Health Care Consumers want you, and the University Administration, to know that we support you 100 percent! We join with you in demanding that the University of Illinois recognize your union and negotiate with you for better working conditions and better benefits.
We want you to know that the community is behind you! The University IS part of this community, whether they act like it or not, and you all are an important part of this community and how you are treated by our community’s largest employer is important to all of us.
Because we support you, we have been out here picketing with you today, we are here at your rally, and we have been here for just about every single major event you have had in this eight year struggle.
Some people might be wondering why we, the Champaign County Health Care Consumers, have been actively supporting and encouraging your efforts for so many years.
Champaign County Health Care Consumers is a 24-year old grassroots non-profit organization dedicated to social justice. We believe that all people should have access to quality affordable health care. We believe that consumers must have a voice in the health care system. And we believe in participatory democracy.
We believe in labor rights, and we ourselves are a unionized work place. Our union is UNITE Local 120.
We support your fight to win union recognition. You must have the right to collective bargaining so that you can win improvements in your benefits. In particular, you have been fighting for a long time for better health care benefits, and we believe you deserve the exact same health coverage options as those offered to recognized U of I employees, such as faculty members.
Union recognition is the most effective way that you will be able to protect your rights and improve your benefits as U of I employees.
As a community based organization serving all people in Champaign County, we provide assistance to many graduate employees of the U of I who face extreme financial debt and other challenges due to the inadequate health benefits offered to you by the U of I.
Your struggle IS OUR STRUGGLE!
We join with you today, in this Work Stoppage, to demand that the U of I acknowledge the contributions you make as employees, and recognize your union!
It is time for the University to put aside their legal strategies to avoid dealing with you, their employees!
It is time for the University to act like a responsible and ethical employer and recognize you as employees with a right to unionize.
We at CCHCC stand behind you and with you. You should feel proud of your struggle that has lasted over eight years. We want the University to know that the more they continue to avoid their responsibilities and refuse to acknowledge the GEO, the greater that the community’s support will grow for the GEO’s efforts.
Keep up the struggle, and know that CCHCC and the community is supporting your efforts!
Thank you.