GEO Election Express
October 30, 2002 Edition
Talks Over Date Of GEO Election Continue
University Administration Proposal Would Encourage Low Participation
Allan Borst, a TA in English, and Rosemary Braun, a GA in Physics, who
are also GEO’s current Co-Presidents, together with representatives of
our statewide and national affiliates continue meeting with the administration
regarding final preparations for an election. These include, most importantly,
the date of the election but also such details as the location of the
polling places, times that the polling places would be open, and the number
of days over which the election would take place.
Our position in these meetings has been that a date in the spring would
ensure the greatest participation among eligible voters, something to
which all parties should presumably look forward. In a break from their
previously neutral position, however, the university administration is
now attempting to set the election for the last two weeks of the fall
semester, raising concerns of severe inconveniences for graduate employees
and suppressed voter turnout.
"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," said Allan. "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."
Ben Scott, a GA in Communications, agrees: "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 participatory process as possible."
Administration continues opposition to fair election agreement
Despite hundreds of petitions from local clergy, faculty, and others
the university administration continues to refuse to endorse the "Free
& Fair Election Agreement." GEO members resolved to adopt the
Agreement at our membership meeting of September 18 and called on the
administration to do the same by October 16 . "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," stated Rosemary
in an October 17 press release. "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."
members rallied on October 17 in front of the Swanlund Administration
Building to deliver the 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 cannot
effectively prevent administrators here or at other schools from violating
the letter and/or the spirit of the law. For example, recent threats against
pro-union grads at the University of Pennsylvania could have been avoided
had their administration taken a firm and principled stand that they would
not permit such behavior to happen on their campus. Unfortunately, administrators
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. By endorsing officially the "Free & Fair Election Agreement,"
as GEO members did on September 18, the UIUC administration would rightly
and publicly commit to preventing such unfair conduct.
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 TA in Philosophy.
What Do You Want In Your 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.