Urbana City Council Endorses GEO; Final Vote Expected Next Week

Meeting as a committee of the whole, the seven members of the Urbana City Council endorsed a pro-GEO resolution by a vote of 6-1 at its Monday meeting. The resolution will be formally approved at its meeting next week. All seven members of the city council spoke in support of GEO’s goal of union representation for teaching, research, and graduate assistants, and six of the seven felt the issue important enough to warrant a formal resolution by the Council.
The resolution states, in part, “we urge the University of Illinois and the Board of Trustees to avert a strike or similar disruptive actions by respecting the rights of graduate employees to organize and bargain collectively…we call upon the Board of Trustees to meet immediately with the Graduate Employees’ Organization and reach agreement on the terms of collective bargaining.”
“This shows how united the community is in support of GEO,” said GEO member Rosemary Braun, a graduate employee in Physics and an Urbana resident. “Graduate employees live in Urbana. They send their children to Urbana schools. We use Urbana doctors. We eat in Urbana restaurants. The support of the Urbana City Council sends a powerful message to the University Administration that this issue is one that affects the whole Twin Cities area, not just the campus.”
The endorsement comes at an appropriate time, as the UI Board of Trustees will be arriving in town Wednesday for a two-day meeting. GEO members have already planned a rally for 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, at the Illini Union, to urge the Board of Trustees to negotiate an out-of-court settlement that respects the express wishes of graduate employees for union representation.
“This is yet another reason for the Board of Trustees to reverse their undemocratic stance,” said GEO Communications Officer Dave Kamper. “The Illinois House of Representatives supports us. The Urbana City Council supports us. The UI faculty support us. Undergraduates support us. Graduate employees have shown time and again that they want a union. Only the Administration is against us. Whose University is this?”


Text of Urbana City Council Resolution in Support of Collective Bargaining Rights for Graduate Employees
(officially passed at the Urbana City Council Meeting of March 18, 2000)
WHEREAS, The more than 5,000 graduate employees at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are indispensable members of the University as they teach nearly half of all introductory level courses, run laboratories and libraries, perform essential research that has established and maintained the University’s excellent reputation, and perform many other services vital to the University and our community; and
WHEREAS, Graduate employees at the University have demonstrated overwhelming support for union representation, with 3,226 graduate employees signing petitions in 1996 requesting the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board to conduct a union election and 64% of those voting in a representation election conducted in 1997 by local religious leaders voting for the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) as their bargaining representative; and
WHEREAS, The University administration refuses to recognize the results of this election, refuses to voluntarily recognize the GEO, and has spent hundreds of thousands of public tax dollars fighting a legally binding election to allow graduate employees to decide whether they want union representation; and
WHEREAS, The GEO has exhausted all legal and diplomatic channels to improve their working conditions and secure union recognition, and, as a result, GEO members have voted to conduct a strike that will have a negative impact on many Urbana residents;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF URBANA, ILLINOIS, as follows:
That we urge the University of Illinois Board of Trustees to avert a strike or similar disruptive actions by respecting the right of graduate employees to organize and bargain collectively; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we call upon the Board of Trustees to meet immediately with the Graduate Employees’ Organization and reach agreement on the terms of collective bargaining, including, but not limited to, the parameters of a collective bargaining unit and the scope of issues to be dealt with; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we urge the University administration and the Board of Trustees, and the Graduate Employees’ Organization to bargain in good faith and in the best interests of graduate employees and the University as a whole.
PASSED by the City Council this 18th day of March, 2002.
AYES: Chynoweth, Hayes, Huth, Otto, Patt, Wyman
NAYS: Whelan
ABSTAIN:
APPROVED by the Mayor (Tod Satterthwaite) this 28th day of March, 2002.