UIC GEO Calls Strike! Join us in Chicago on Tuesday!

As outlined in the following press release, the University of Illinois at Chicago Graduate Employees’ Organization has voted overwhelmingly to call a strike against the Board of Trustees at the University of Illinois.  Members of the UIUC GEO are taking a van of supporters up north on Tuesday, April 6, at 7 am – currently we have space for four additional members, and possibly more.  If you are interested in going up north to support our sisters and brothers in the UIC GEO and would like space in the van, you need to contact Amy Livingston at amy.l.livingston by 4 pm TODAY, Monday, April 5th.

Gina Gemmel
Phone: 773-413-0349
Email:  gmgemmel@gmail.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

GEO, UNION REPRESENTING 1400 TEACHERS AND RESEARCHERS AT UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS-CHICAGO, OVERWHELMINGLY VOTES TO STRIKE

Over the last two days, 84% of the Graduate Employees Organizations (GEO) members voted to call a strike against the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. GEO members will hold a rally on Monday, April 5, in support of their last scheduled federal mediation session with the UIC administration.

The GEO’s first agreement expired in August 2009, and GEO members have been negotiating a new contract since April 2009. After a year of negotiations, GEO members are on the verge of a strike because the UIC administration refuses to secure tuition waivers or address tuition differentials.

“All TAs and GAs currently receive a tuition waiver,” said Charles Moss, GEO President, “so the fact that the university wants the freedom to discontinue this benefit is unacceptable.”

Many GEO members earn less than $15,000 per year, but because of “Tuition Differential Fees,” imposed by UIC, pay up to $11,000 per year in fees back to the university. “We are being gouged by TD fees which increase every year without warning,” said Sarita Heer, Teaching Assistant in Art History. “All we want is to have input and know why these fees keep increasing. Isn’t it fair for UIC to tell us where our money is going?”

The GEO and the university will hold their final scheduled contract negotiation session with the help of a federal mediator on Monday, April 5, and will hold a rally outside Student Center East, 750 S. Halsted, Chicago, IL at 8:00 AM.

“So far, organizations at UIC representing more than 25,000 students and dozens of faculty have issued statements of support,” said Gina Gemmel, Teaching Assistant in English and GEO Communications Chair, “so we expect Monday’s rally to be massive, and we remain committed to reaching an agreement on Monday which includes tuition waiver security and gives us a say in Tuition Differential fees.”

The Graduate Employees Organization, AFT local 6297, AFL-CIO, is the labor union representing more than 1400 Teaching and Graduate Assistants at UIC who teach undergraduate classes, grade papers, work in offices, design websites, maintain databases, and perform other work crucial to the teaching and research missions of the university.