Many grads have been contacting the GEO office with concerns about their recent fee statements. This post is provided to help you understanding what’s going on with the recent issues related to grad employee pay, tuition waivers, health subsidies, family insurance premium increases, and hourly appointments.
The format is a series of common questions we’ve heard from grad employees and our response. If you have other questions or concerns beyond those raised here, contact your department steward or the GEO office (it is best to phone 344-8283 but you may also email firstname.lastname@example.org).
Q: What’s going on with the GEO contract?
A: In August, the GEO and the University of Illinois reached an agreement on the language of the contract. The contract provisions apply to graduate employees in the bargaining unit (most Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants); unfortunately, Research Assistants and Pre-Professional Graduate Assistants are not covered although they receive the pay raise and the insurance premium discount.
Moreover, the GEO is there to assist if you have problems with your job, working conditions, or paychecks. The contract also entitles you to many rights. For example, if you are asked to discuss your job with your employer, you are entitled to have a union representative attend as well to observe and, if necessary, protect your rights under the contract.
Q: Health fees: should I pay or not?
A: The University has informed the GEO that graduate employees do not need to pay the $178 McKinley Fee listed on billing statements. Additionally graduate employees will only have to pay $183 toward the semester health insurance premium (this is the result of the University’s $50 contribution to the premium cost). Therefore, if you are going to pay your fees this week, you may subtract $228 ($178 + $50) from the total amount IF these waivers have not already been applied.
If you have already paid your fees, the University has informed us that your account will be credited the amount of the overpayment. Additionally, the University has informed us that graduate employees should contact student accounts (email@example.com) if they are assesed any unnecessary late fees.
Some employee accounts have already been updated online. Check your account at https://apps.uillinois.edu/selfservice/index.html for updates.
Q: I’ve heard that the current problems with payroll are related to the GEO’s contract. Is this true?
A: Absolutely not. Unfortunately, some employees at Student Accounts and Financial Aid have been blaming the current problems on the GEO. The real blame goes to the ill-designed new payroll software known as BANNER. BANNER-related problems, including charging tuition, McKinley clinic fees, or missing paychecks, are not connected to the contract. You do not have to pay any erroneous fees or late penalties related to those mistakes. The University has promised that these problems will be cleared up in time for the October pay statement. The University has asked that you email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have been assessed false late fees.
Q: Because of payroll problems, I’m not getting the money I need. What do I do?
A: If you don’t receive your paycheck or a financial aid refund because of
a problem with BANNER, you are entitled to an emergency loan from financial aid, to a maximum of $1,000. While there is a $3 charge to process the loan, the University has told us that this will be taken off of your account if you contact Joe Creek in Student Accounts (3-5713 or email@example.com)
Q: I have a grad hourly appointment and recently received notice that my employment pushed my appointment level over 67%. Should I quit that job to save my tuition waiver? A: According to the University administration, for the purposes of tuition waivers, hourly appointments do not count towards the overall appointment percentage. If you have been told otherwise, contact your GEO steward or your department office. However, international students should keep in mind that federal regulations do still count hourly appointments towards your total hours worked! Contact the Office of International Student Affairs if you have any questions.
Q: I have dependent insurance coverage, and my rates just shot up. Is this because of the reductions to grad insurance premiums in the contract?
A: No. Dependent coverage increased by 15% this semester because Mega Life, the insurance carrier, started charging more. Unfortunately, this increase was then passed on to grads.
Q: I thought that the GEO had voted to charge dues and a fair share fee, but my pay statement shows no deduction / or only a $3 charge. What’s up?
A: The services that the GEO provides to members and non-members in the bargaining unit, including bargaining a contract, servicing grievances, and conducting outreach, require financial support from grad employees. Therefore, the GEO assesses a small amount (dues for members, representation fee for non members) to cover the cost of these services. At the last General Membership Meeting, GEO members voted to set dues at 2%. However, because of payroll problems related to BANNER, the University did not charge the fee in time for the Sept 16 paydate. At recent negotiations, the GEO and the University agreed to implement the dues/representation fee in October.