Talks over date of GEO election continue; University administration proposal would encourage low participation

GEO Co-Presidents Allan Borst (English) and Rosemary Braun (Physics) along with representatives of the GEO’s statewide and national affiliates continue meeting with the university administration in an attempt to set a date for the GEO union election. The GEO’s efforts have been aimed at setting a date in the spring that would ensure the greatest participation among eligible voters. In a break from their previously neutral position, however, the university administration now is attempting to set the election for the last two weeks of the fall semester, raising fears of low voter turnout and severe inconveniences for graduate employees.

GEO Update

October 28, 2002

In this update:

1. Update on election timing
2. Administration continues to oppose fair election
3. What do you want in your first union contract?

1. Talks over date of GEO election continue; University administration proposal would encourage low participation

GEO Co-Presidents Allan Borst (English) and Rosemary Braun (Physics) along with representatives of the GEO’s statewide and national affiliates continue meeting with the university administration in an attempt to set a date for the GEO union election. The GEO’s efforts have been aimed at setting a date in the spring that would ensure the greatest participation among eligible voters. In a break from their previously neutral position, however, the university administration now is attempting to set the election for the last two weeks of the fall semester, raising fears of low voter turnout and severe inconveniences for graduate employees.
"Those of us who are or who have been TAs at UIUC know how busy of a time the last two weeks of the semester are. Besides teaching, grading, and preparing final exams for our students, we have our own coursework and projects hanging over our heads as well. December is one of the worst times that they could have suggested for an election due to the fact that it fosters low voter turnout," said Borst.
Ben Scott, a GEO Steward in Communications agreed: "I think that an election date later in the school year, like in early- to mid-April, would allow grads more time to educate themselves on the issues and would promote the most democratic and participatory process as possible."
Talks between the GEO and the administration are continuing on this issue and others related to the election process including: location of polling places, times that the polling places would be open, and the number of days over which the election would take place.

Related links:
GEO Election Central
Agreement on bargaining unit reached (6/6/2002)

2. Administration continues opposition to fair election agreement

Despite hundreds of petitions from local clergy, faculty, and others the university administration continues to refuse to agree to a fair election process. In a press release earlier this month, GEO Co-President Rosemary Braun said, "The GEO believes that a public declaration by the administration that they intend to abide by the common sense principles that our members have proposed, and themselves already agreed to, is simply the right thing to do. It would send the signal to the community that the University has decided to make a clean break with the confrontation and misinformation of the past."
GEO members held a rally on October 17 in front of the Swanlund Administration Building to deliver the hundreds of petitions to the Chancellor. Many more concerned graduate employees and community members added their names to the petition at the rally and voiced their support for the common sense provisions.
The administration has claimed that state labor law already covers many of the provisions of the proposed agreement. However, this fact can’t effectively prevent administrators here or at other schools (such as at the University of Pennsylvania where recent threats against pro-union grads were made) from violating the letter and/or the spirit of the law. They can usually count on the slow-moving nature of the courts and the community’s general lack of knowledge of the law to prevent effective censure of such actions. A signed and more comprehensive statement, like the GEO’s proposed "Free & Fair Election Agreement," would indicate that the UIUC administration is publicly committed to preventing unfair conduct.
"Just because they could get away with doing things that would make the election process unfair doesn’t mean that they should. It certainly wouldn’t be right for them to use their position of power to spread misinformation on their own or through departmental administrators or faculty. I can’t understand why they won’t agree to such common sense guidelines," said Susan Blake, a GEO steward in Philosophy.
To sign on to a petition asking the administration to commit to a fair election, click here.

Related links:
GEO Election Central
Rally for a Fair Election (10/17/2002)
Proposed "Free & Fair Election Agreement"
Ally letter of support for fair election
GET-UP (University of Pennsylvania) letter of support

3. What do you want in your first union contract?

Better and more affordable health care? Higher wages? More reasonable workloads? A real voice in your working conditions? In the coming weeks, the GEO will be sending out surveys to graduate employees in order to collect their opinions about what issues are most important to them. This will allow the GEO’s Bargaining Committee to begin preparing for our first contract negotiations that will occur after our successful union election. Keep an eye on your mailbox so that your voice can be heard in this important process.