The Organizer

GEO Election Express

October 9, 2002 Edition

GEO, Allies Endorse Fair Election; University Refuses

Rally On October 17 To Deliver Petitions

Members of the Graduate Employees’ Organization IFT/AFT (GEO) voted
at a General Membership Meeting on September 18 to adopt unilaterally
those provisions of the "Free
and Fair Election Agreement"
it has proposed to the UIUC administration
that are binding upon the union. Members also voted to demand that the
administration adopt by Wednesday, October 16 the provisions of the agreement
that are binding upon it. To date, they continue to refuse to do so.

As a result of a new spirit of cooperation that began last spring, ending
nearly a decade of administration intransigence, the Illinois Educational
Labor Relations Board will oversee an historic union election on the UIUC
campus before the end of the academic year. In this election, over 2,500
Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants will have an opportunity to
vote in support of the GEO becoming their legally recognized collective
bargaining agent. GEO members see both parties signing the "Free
and Fair Election Agreement" as ensuring that this spirit of cooperation
continues unabated throughout the electoral process.

"Graduate employees are enthusiastic about finally being able to
vote for the GEO to be their union after a nearly decade-long campaign.
It would be a shame, though, if the university administration decided
to backtrack from the relationship that we forged last semester by opting
for more confrontation and misinformation," said Allan Borst, GEO
Co-President. "We want the administration to avoid the temptation
of using classic union-busting techniques like forcing grads to go to
departmental meetings to ‘discuss’ why the union is a bad idea or exploiting
faculty/graduate employee relationships to spread their anti-union message.
That’s unethical."

In addition to local clergy, faculty, and others, over forty U.S. and
Illinois State Representatives, Senators, and candidates, including gubernatorial
candidate Rod Blagojevich and Representative Rick Winkel, have already
expressed in writing their
support for the agreement
.

On Thursday, October 17, GEO members and supporters from the community
will gather at noon in front of the Swanlund Administration Building to
deliver these petitions. If the administration has failed by then to sign
onto the proposed agreement, our public show of solidarity can only help
to move them to do so. If by then they have seen their way clear to do
the right thing, then we will have occasion to celebrate.

"Given the administration’s concerted and protracted resistance
to the GEO over the better part of a decade, and the needless distraction,
disruption, and taxpayer expense that this has brought to the university
community, we are convinced that it is in the community’s best interest
for the two parties involved in the election process to come to an agreement
that more clearly defines a code of conduct," according to GEO Co-President
Rosemary Braun.

The provisions binding on the university administration will help to
ensure that the election is free of intimidation, harassment, and threats
of retribution.

"GEO members strongly believe that it is the right of graduate
employees alone to choose whether or not to vote for unionization. The
administration should agree to refrain from overt or covert efforts to
influence the outcome. We will do our part and we want to work with the
administration to make sure that they do theirs," added Braun.