Don’t forget to Vote for GEO officers!

Click here for the candidates running for office for the 2007-2008 academic year. Included are statements from the 4 candidates for Co-President.
If you would like to vote, please come to the GEO office (2nd floor, YMCA). The last day to vote is Monday, April 23, between 10am and 6pm.
If you have questions about the voting process, please contact the office at 344-8283/ or contact the elections chair, Karen Lichtman, at klichtm2(AT)

Co-Presidents (vote for 2)
___Alex Alverio
I graduated with a bachelors in psychology and speech communication
here at U of I in May 2006. I am a masters student at the Institute of
Labor and Industrial Relations. I was on the previous GEO
negotiating/bargaining team and also the grievance committee. I have
taken many classes related to unions such as employment law, collective
bargaining, health care and will take workplace dispute resolution
which deals with grievances, mediation and arbitration next semester. I
am involved with the Labor Education Program at ILIR which provides
training to various unions to become better unions. If elected, I will
focus on organizing and getting more grievances so that we can have
more leverage during our next negotiations. I will engage in outreach
to other organizations that we have solidarity with such as the STOP
coalition. I will also attempt to get the GEO involved with the Labor
Education Program so that for example the next bargaining team will
have training and be well prepared before entering the next
___Brian Dolber
Since coming to the Institute of Communications Research at the
University of Illinois, I have been an active member of the GEO. I
have served as department steward, Steward?s Council co-chair, and
Communications Officer on the Coordinating Committee. Now, I would be
pleased to serve the GEO as Co-President.
We accomplished a lot this year, and I was very moved to see so many
graduate employees get involved and fight for a fair contract.
However, union activism cannot be based solely around a contract
schedule. It must be a constant fight for fairness and respect within
our workplace on a daily basis. Now that we have a contract we need
to build our union in several ways.
First, we must build our membership. Thirty-four percent of our
bargaining unit are members. This is a all-time high for us, but it is
not enough. We must be on-track to represent at least 50 percent of
the unit by the time of the next contract. As co-president, I would
work with the SC to develop an organizing strategy to put us on that
Second, we need to build a union culture of solidarity. The GEO should
not just be another institution on campus, or a provider of services.
It should be central to the every day life of each graduate employee.
As co-president, I would work with the Communications Committee to
develop a ?visioning process,? and determine how to make our union
relevant to all members of our diverse community.
Third, we need to build the skills of our staff. I have been very
pleased to get to know Lori, David and Douglas, and develop good
working relationships with them as an activist and officer. As a
former union staff member with SEIU and AFT, I understand the important
role that staff play in developing a union. I also understand the
tensions that sometimes arise between members and staff. As
co-president, I would make sure that our staff are working in the
interests of members, and help them develop so that they can best
serve the union?s needs.
Finally, we need to build our relationships with other unions and
organizations, locally and nationally. I have attended meetings of
the Champaign County AFL-CIO. We need to show solidarity with other
workers in our community so that we all benefit together. We should
also expand our involvement in key coalitions, like STOP, in order to
combat the institutional racism that affects all workers on this
campus. Nationally, we must support the efforts of our affiliate, the
American Federation of Teachers, who are at the forefront of fighting
for academic freedom. access to education. and other issues that impact
us as academic laborers and as students. At the same time, we must
work to ensure that our distinct voices and concerns are heard as
graduate employees within the AFT and the Illinois Federation of
Teachers. I have already been in communication with other leaders from
grad unions about these very issues.
It has been a pleasure to serve GEO members in the multiple positions
I?ve held. I hope to continue having that pleasure as your union?s
___Sang Lee
I am a first year masters student and steward in the urban planning
department. But being in graduate school wasn’t my first experience
with the GEO. When I did my undergraduate studies here are UIUC in the
late 90s I was a strong supporter of my TAs. Then I had the great
opportunity to work as a staff organizer for the GEO from 2001-2003
when we held our successful vote for recognition. But that success
didn?t come easily. It took thousands of hours of face to face
conversations, a two day work stoppage, and a take over of the Swanland
Administrative Building. During those two years I got to see how the
fight for justice could unite thousands of graduate employees on campus
together. I want to see our union continue to be a unifying force on
campus and I hope that you all will consider me for co-president.
In this coming year I think it will be vital to continue building the
union though face to face organizing. I also think it’s important for
us to be as inclusive as possible to all grad employees by having child
and family friendly events and meetings. I also believe in the power
of a good time as a way to build the union. We may be employees, but
we’re also interesting people who like to meet other interesting
people. So I hope we can build the union by being able to connect to
one another on a personal level as well. Also, during this period
between contract negotiations, we should take the time to do more
research on the university healthcare plan and other options. Lastly,
we should continue to build solidarity with other grad unions across
the country and local unions in CU. I hope you consider these issues
as important as I do and give me your vote!
___Eric Young
My name is Erik Young, and I am currently completing my first year as a
PhD student and Research Assistant in the Institute of Labor and
Industrial Relations. I am seeking the office Co-President primarily
because I feel the Graduate Employee’s Organization needs to move
towards a more positive and productive relationship with the University
Administration. There was (and still is) much well-deserved frustration
and anger expressed about the way that bargaining progressed this past
year. However, the best way to remedy this is to move to an
interest-based (win-win) approach to bargaining rather than a
distributive (a gain for one side is a loss for the other) model. This
requires an honest and frank exchange at the bargaining table. The only
way to have this is to establish a positive relationship with the
University. This will also allow us to reach out to a wider, more
diverse group of graduate employees and students, thereby increasing
and strengthening out membership.
There are those who believe that an adversarial relationship is the
best or only approach that the union has in reaching its objectives.
There are those who argue that an adversarial approach will send the
wrong message to our membership, or that if we foster a positive
relationship with the University we will somehow not be able to fully
provide for the needs of our members. This is precisely the attitude
that we need to change. This is the type of thinking that comes from ‘a
gain for one is a loss for the other.’ There is no reason to believe
that having a better relationship with the University will make it more
difficult to provide the needed services for our members. In fact, it
will have the opposite effect. Fostering a positive relationship will
put us in a stronger position to provide for our members because it
will provide us access and a voice in contract administration and —
more importantly — allow us to gain membership and move to
interest-based bargaining.
An adversarial relationship with the University will hinder us from
achieving our collective goals. Interest-based bargaining and a
positive relationship is the best way of getting to where we all strive
to be.
Treasurer (vote for 1)
___John Gergely
Grievances Officer (vote for 1)
___Alex Alverio
___Brian Dolber
___Mike Lehman
Communications Officer
(vote for 1)
___Will Hope
___Rich Potter
At-Large Officers (vote for 3)
___Dave Bates
___Stephen Jug
___Carolina Sternberg