Open letter to UIUC faculty regarding international students and the strike

Dear UIUC Faculty,

Greetings from GEO! We are writing to you today to ensure that you are
aware of the rights of international students and employees to
participate in activities related to collective bargaining.  Most
especially, we want to emphasize to you that international graduate
students who are members of GEO and are employed in the GEO bargaining
unit have the full legal right to participate in GEO’s strike against
the University of Illinois.

As University Spokesperson Robin Kaler has made clear in numerous
public statements, the legality of the GEO strike is not in question.
Under the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (IELRA), GEO
members who are employed in the GEO bargaining unit therefore have a
clear right to strike.  In this matter, citizenship status is
irrelevant, as every person in the United States has the right to join
and participate in a union under the First Amendment’s guarantee of
freedom of association.

Furthermore, the IELRA in Section 14(a)(1)-14(a)(3) specifically
prohibits the University of Illinois or its agents from engaging in
any action which would tend to interfere, coerce, or restrain
employees in their exercise of their legitimate collective bargaining
rights.  Therefore, were you to discourage an international graduate
student from participating in the GEO strike, you could be in
violation of the law and subject to an Unfair Labor Practice charge.

We hope that you support GEO in our struggle to guarantee that
graduate employees will not lose their tuition waivers.  However,
regardless of your position on that issue, we expect and insist that
you refrain from any activity or communication which might have the
effect of intimidating or otherwise interfering with international
graduate employees who wish to exercise their right to participate in
collective bargaining.

Sincerely,

The Graduate Employees’ Organization