FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: GRADUATE EMPLOYEES’ ORGANIZATION COMMEMORATES STRIKE OF 2009

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: GRADUATE EMPLOYEES’ ORGANIZATION COMMEMORATES STRIKE OF 2009

Urbana-Champaign (November 15): On November 16 and 17, Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO, IFT/AFT Local 6300) will commemorate the work stoppage that occurred on the UIUC campus last November.

November 16 activities will focus on recruitment and organizing of graduate employees on campus.  Imitating the organization of strike shifts, GEO members will sign up for shifts to visit other graduate employees on campus, hear about their work experiences and inform them about GEO membership and activities.

“Communicating with our members is always a high priority,” said Leighton Christiansen, GEO Officer-at-Large, “but the nature of our workplace—an entire campus—makes it challenging.” The GEO represents all Teaching and Graduate Assistants on the UIUC campus, regardless of which college or department employs them.

On Wednesday, November 17, GEO will host a Teach-In at the University YMCA, titled “A Year After the GEO Strike: The State of Labor at the University of Illinois.”  It will feature a panel discussion on the state of education and labor on campus. Panelists will include GEO members, undergraduates, faculty and staff from the University.  The panel discussion begins at 10am, followed by an informal meet-and-greet at 11am.  At noon on Wednesday, GEO members will assemble on the Quad to rally and relive the final moments of last year’s strike.

Kerry Pimblott, lead negotiator last year for the GEO says it’s important for the campus to remember the reason for the strike. “This strike was over tuition waiver protection, but it’s not just about graduate students at this University. It’s about maintaining respected graduate programs and providing a high quality, affordable education to undergraduates.”

The strike commemoration will end with a general membership meeting for GEO members on Wednesday night at 5:30 in the University YMCA.

During academic year 2010-2011 GEO activities will focus on four pillars: Uniting Workers, Enforcing the Contract, Protecting Access to Public Education, and Improving Healthcare. These pillars are vital to fulfilling the original land grant mission of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and protecting the quality of life and benefits of employment for graduate students. To learn more about how this campaign is working for GEO members and helping to strengthen our community, please contact the GEO.

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. 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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