Press Release Announcing Yesterday’s Demonstrations!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: OVER 300 GRAD EMPLOYEES FROM ALL THREE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS GRADUATE EMPLOYEE UNION LOCALS STAGE 11/12 DEMONSTRATIONS 11/12 IN SUPPORT OF UIUC AND UIC GRADUATE EMPLOYEES’ ORGANIZATION CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS

DEMONSTRATION AT BOARD OF TRUSTEES MEETING IN SPRINGFIELD INSPIRES PUBLIC CONVERSATION BETWEEN GEO LEAD NEGOTIATOR AND TOP UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS ADMINISTRATORS

UIUC GEO HAS VOTED TO AUTHORIZE STRIKE AGAINST BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS

SPRINGFIELD, CHICAGO, AND URBANA-CHAMPAIGN (November 12): On Thursday, November 12, over 300 graduate employees and their allies staged rallies in support of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and the University of Illinois at Chicago Graduate Employees’ Organizations (GEO) efforts to secure a fair contract from the University of Illinois (UI) administration.  In Springfield, over 80 members of the UIUC Graduate Employees’ Organization, American Federation of Teachers/Illinois Federation of Teachers Local 6300, AFL-CIO along with members of the University of Illinois at Springfield GEO marched at 8:15 am to the University of Illinois at Springfield Public Affairs Center and demonstrated in outside of the meeting of the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.  Terry Reed of the Illinois Federation of Teachers and President of the Springfield Central Labor Council, and Ellie Sullivan, President of The University Professionals of Illinois, American Federation of Teachers/Illinois Federation of Teachers Local 4100, addressed the demonstrators.  With state television media looking on, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Christopher Kennedy, former University of Illinois President Joe White, and Interim University of Illinois President Stanley Ikenberry came out of the Board of Trustees meeting to talk to GEO lead negotiator Kerry Pimblott.  GEO members also visibly attended the public portion of the meeting, and will have an opportunity for public comment to the Board today at 2:15 pm.

In Urbana-Champaign, over 200 GEO members and their allies demonstrated in support of a fair contract by marching from the Swanlund Administration Building to the Liberal Arts and Sciences Quad.  The GEO will make photographs of the march and demonstration available to the press.  In Chicago, over 50 members and allies of the Graduate Employees’ Organization, University of Illinois Chicago, Local 6297, IFT-AFT, AFL-CIO, demonstrated in solidarity with the Springfield and Champaign demonstrations.

Members of the UIC GEO, the UIC SEIU, and Peter Campbell, UIUC GEO Communications Officer, addressed the demonstration in Chicago. Rich Potter, member of the UIUC GEO who was at the Chicago rally, said he was extremely disappointed that administrators claim they don’t have enough funding to provide a living wage to graduate employees, yet they diverted over one million dollars toward scholarships, legal fees, and generous severance packages related to the admissions scandal.

All three demonstrations were staged in support of ongoing contract negotiations between the UIUC and UIC Graduate Employees’ Organizations and the administration of the University of Illinois.  The UIUC GEO is seeking a contract that includes protection fortuition waivers and a minimum salary set at the University’s own estimate of a living wage in Champaign-Urbana. The UIC GEO is seeking a contract that seeks a living wage, improved healthcare, and an end to tuition differentials.  Both union locals have been met with stalling, delay, and regressive contract proposals from the University of Illinois administration.

All press inquiries can be directed to Peter Campbell, UIUC GEO Communications Officer, 253.222.5861.  The University of Illinois Chicago demonstration organizer and contact person is Jason Leto, Staff Field Organizer, Graduate Employees’ Organization, University of Illinois Chicago, Local 6297, IFT-AFT, AFL-CIO, 850.345.7617, jmleto@gmail.com.

The Graduate Employees’ Organization, American Federation of Teachers/Illinois Federation of Teachers Local 6300, AFL-CIO, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is a labor union representing all teaching and graduate assistants (TAs and GAs) on the UIUC campus.  With over 2600 GEO members, and over 2600 graduate employees represented in the bargaining unit, the GEO is one of the largest higher education union locals in the United States.  Over the course of a three day vote, an overwhelming 92% of participating UIUC GEO members voted last week to authorize a strike against the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.  With the vote, GEO members have given the strike committee of the UIUC GEO a clear mandate to call a strike at any time.