FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: UIUC GRADUATE EMPLOYEES’ ORGANIZATION TO JOIN UC UNITED COALITION ON LOBBY DAY AT SPRINGFIELD APRIL 21

GEO SENDS OPEN LETTER TO UIUC ADMINISTRATION ASKING TOP ADMINISTRATORS TO JOIN EDUCATION EMPLOYEES TO LOBBY FOR STATE SUPPORT

Urbana-Champaign (April 19): On April 21, about 50 members of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) will join the UC United Coalition at the Illinois state capitol to lobby for increased support for public education.

The UC United Coalition, a consortium of labor unions and student activist groups at UIUC, has prepared a legislative action platform for its members to take to Springfield.

The platform includes support for tax increases that will support public education in Illinois, opposition to a bill that would strip 50% tuition waivers for children of University employees, principled opposition to furloughs for civil service employees, and a bill that would eliminate the ability of politicians to nominate persons for General Assembly scholarships.

GEO members have been preparing for “lobby day” for several weeks.  “Our members are highly educated about our platform, and we look forward to productive conversations with state lawmakers,” said Stephanie Seawell, GEO Co-President and co-chair of the GEO’s lobbying and legislative action committee.

The GEO has also published an open letter to top University of Illinois administrators, urging them to join the UC United Coalition on lobby day.  “Clearly, the University is facing a crisis in state funding, and President Ikenberry has been vocal in demanding more money from the state,” said Natalie Uhl, GEO Communications Officer.  “We see lobby day as an excellent opportunity for President Ikenberry and top UIUC administrators to join campus workers and students to demand that Springfield recognize the benefits of adequate public funding for higher education.”  A copy of the open letter is available on the GEO website.

The GEO and the UC United Coalition call on President Ikenberry to follow the example of Southern Illinois University President Glenn Poshard and pledge not to increase tuition.  “Ikenberry’s statements about how the University should respond to the state budget shortfall signal a privatized U of I that will only be accessible to the wealthy,” said Peter Campbell, GEO communications committee member.

“Public funding for higher education pays dividends for the state economy,” said Uhl.  “We hope that top U of I administrators join us in Springfield to send the message that for our flagship public institution, tuition increases, layoffs and furloughs are not an acceptable substitute for state funds.”

The Graduate Employees’ Organization, AFT/IFT Local 6300, AFL-CIO, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, represents approximately 2700 Teaching and Graduate Assistants on the UIUC Campus.  In November 2009, over 1,000 GEO members successfully went on strike to secure a fair contract and more accessible UIUC.  With events like lobby day, the GEO continues to work for high quality and accessible public education in Illinois.

For more information, please contact Natalie Uhl, GEO Communications Officer, at 317-652-7298 or natalieuhl@gmail.com.  More information can also be found on our website at uigeo.org.

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