May Day, GEO 20th Birthday, Bargaining, Announcements, Updates, and Events

Table of Contents:


Third Bargaining Session
Call for Testimonials

Grievance Committee
Steward’s Council
Communications Committee
Solidarity Committee
Coordinating Committee
Healthcare Working Group

Wear It Wednesday
Physics Grads: GEO Bargaining Updates & Work Actions
Coffee Cart


May Day Email Banner


On May 1, 1886, workers took to the streets in a general strike throughout the entire country to force the ownership class to recognize the eight-hour work day. Over 350,000 workers across the country directly participated in the general strike, with hundreds of thousands of workers joining the marches. On May 3rd in Chicago, the city police opened fire on the unarmed striking workers at the McCormick Reaper Works, killing six workers and wounding countless others in the Haymarket Massacre. On May 4th, workers across the nation quickly rose up, particularly the Chicago anarchists of the IWPA (International Working Peoples’ Association), who organized a rally of several thousand workers at Haymarket Square to protest the continuing police violence against striking workers on the South Side. As the last speaker finished his remarks, 180 armed police marched forward and demanded the workers to disperse. Then, deep within the police ranks, a bomb exploded, killing seven officers. The police opened fire on the unarmed workers. Eight anarchist workers were convicted of murder and inciting a riot. Only one of the eight men accused was present at the protest, and he was attempting to address the crowd when the bomb went off.  No evidence was ever produced to uphold the accusations. Four of the prisoners – Albert Parsons, August Spies, George Engel and Adolph Fisher – were executed while Louis Lingg committed suicide and the three remaining were pardoned due to immense working class uprisings. On May 1, 1890, in accordance with the decision of the Paris Congress (July 1889) of the Second International to commemorate the Haymarket martyrs, workers organized mass demonstrations and strikes across multiple continents. The workers put forward the demands for an 8-hour workday, better health conditions, and further demands set forth by the International Association of Workers. Workers symbolized the red flag as a working-class commemoration for those lost through exploitation and oppression. From that day forward (starting in 1891 in Russia), workers throughout the world began to celebrate the first of May as a day of international worker solidarity, fighting for liberation, celebrating the past, and building our future without the oppression and exploitation of the state.

Today, unions like GEO continue to be on the forefront of fighting for workers’ rights and fair working conditions.


GEO Birthday Flyer


This spring, GEO is celebrating its 20th birthday! UIUC graduate employees voted to establish GEO as their official union representative in the spring of 1997, after several years of organizing. Since then, we’ve bargained four contracts, secured tuition waiver protections, won improved wages and more affordable healthcare, established a grievance procedure to protect our rights, eaten a LOT of pizza, and much more. In our twenty-year history, we have become famous among labor organizations nationwide for our strength and commitment to democratic principles. We hope you’ll come out and celebrate with us at the May Day rally on May 1st (details below). Here’s to many more years and victories!


May Day Rally Banner


Join us at the May Day rally to celebrate campus labor and social justice, and GEO’s birthday! Workers from several campus labor unions will speak at the rally on Monday, May 1, 12:00pm, at Anniversary Plaza. Here is the Facebook event link for the May Day Rally.



Third Bargaining Session:
GEO’s third bargaining session with the UIUC administration will be on Tuesday, May 2, 9:00am-12:00pm, at the McKinley Foundation (809 S 5th St, Champaign, IL) on campus. All members are welcome to attend this bargaining session. Refreshments will be provided for members in attendance.

The GEO recognized the Fire Services Institute as unsuitable for member attendance and prioritized securing a more accessible space for bargaining. As a result, the GEO successfully moved the third bargaining session to the member-friendly McKinley Foundation. Securing a negotiated, member-friendly campus space for bargaining not only serves to increase member attendance and participation in bargaining, but also significantly shifts the power dynamics (control of our bargaining) in our favor. With this early victory, members can be assured that the Bargaining Team will stand firm on all contract proposals to advance the material and social condition for all workers!

Here’s a link to the Facebook event for the third bargaining session.

If you can’t make it to the bargaining session, you can still keep up with bargaining updates by attending GEO committee meetings and general membership meetings, following GEO on social media, and reading GEO emails.

Here is a summary of the second bargaining session (April 17), and a summary of the first bargaining session (March 30).

More ways to be involved with bargaining:

  • Talk to your GEO department Steward
  • Attend a Bargaining Team meeting
  • Attend bargaining sessions
  • Talk to your GEO colleagues

Join the Bargaining Team at their next meeting on Thursday, May 4, 3:00-5:00pm, at the GEO Office. All members are welcome!

See the GEO event calendar for future Bargaining Team meetings, bargaining sessions, and other events. Add it to your Google calendar by searching for Bargaining Team meetings and bargaining sessions are open to all members. Please contact the Bargaining Team ( with any questions.


Call for Testimonials:
One powerful tool in bargaining is member stories, and we want to hear from you! If you have a story related to our contract, email to share it with the Bargaining Team.

Our pillars of bargaining are protecting tuition waivers, raising wages and eliminating fees, ensuring quality healthcare, and promoting access and equality, which includes creating childcare support, strengthening our nondiscrimination statement, and expanding parental, bereavement, and visa/immigration leave. If you have an experience to share about these (or other!) issues, please consider coming to the bargaining sessions and voicing it. If you do not feel comfortable speaking in the session, that is OK too. With your permission, someone else can read your written statement without mentioning you as the author. You can indicate to the Bargaining Team how you want your story shared.



Grievance Committee:
A contract is only as good as our ability to enforce it. The Grievance Committee is responsible for advocating for fair labor practices at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and protecting graduate employees from abuse… and we need your help! Join the Grievance Committee for an opportunity to have a lasting impact on the lives of your peers all across campus. We meet every Tuesday at 7pm at the GEO Office.


Our Collective Bargaining Agreement protects members of the Bargaining Unit from being overworked? You can refer to your appointment letter for information on the maximum number of hours you can be asked to work per week. If you are consistently being asked to work more than your appointment letter specifies, remain calm! Complete the work you were asked to perform, but take detailed notes and contact the Grievance Committee for advice about how to raise the issue to your employment supervisor. See Article VII in the GEO’s Collective Bargaining Agreement for more information.

Don’t forget to check out our new online “Submit a Grievance” web form, which is available at Please pass this link along to your colleagues if you hear of someone that might need to speak with the Grievance Committee.


Stewards’ Council (SC):
The Stewards Council is always looking for new members who want to help organize their departments! We are especially looking for grad workers who would like to be Stewards who are planning to stay in Champaign-Urbana over the summer. Please contact with any questions.

Stewards are a visible representative of the GEO in their departments, and representatives of their department to the GEO. They are the go-to people for fielding questions about the contract, or other issues that GEO members might be facing, and are essential for communicating problems in their department to the GEO. They also help keep membership in their departments informed and up-to-date about GEO activities. The SC plans a variety of events every year, such as happy hours, general membership meetings, and informational sessions for departments. By being a steward for your department, you can work with GEO to make events tailored to your department’s students’ needs and interests.

Our meetings are open to all GEO members. While each department has its own method for appointing stewards, any GEO member may serve as a steward. Some department have co-Stewards. The next meeting is on Tuesday, May 9, 5:00-7:00pm, at the GEO office.


Communications Committee (Comm Comm):
We’re looking for new members to join our committee! Our meetings are open to all GEO members and no prior experience with communications is necessary. Please contact Communications Committee at if you are interested in attending. The next meeting is on Thursday, May 11, 2:00-4:00pm, at the GEO Office.


Solidarity Committee (Sol Comm):
Sol Comm is committed to working on issues of social justice and supporting them through various means such as financial endorsements, statements of support, and collaborations. To that end, the Solidarity Committee allows the creation of research groups to efficiently strategize around issues of social justice. Groups such as the Environmental Justice Research Group, the Gender Justice Research Group, and the Anti‐Police Brutality Research Group work on these issues and report to the Solidarity Committee. Please contact the Solidarity Committee at solcomm@uigeo.orgThe next meeting is on May 5, 6:00-8:00pm, at the GEO Office.

Coordinating Committee (CC):

The Coordinating Committee (CC) is made up of elected officers from all committees, though any member may attend meetings. The CC makes decisions about large‐scale projects, some financial decisions, and the GEO’s long‐term vision. Our meetings are open to all GEO members. Please contact the Coordinating Committee at with any questions. Meeting times for the CC can be found on the GEO Calendar.


Healthcare Working Group:
The Healthcare Working Group works to educate graduate employees on their healthcare rights and benefits, as well as facilitating conversations about healthcare on campus between different stakeholder groups. For more information contact The next meeting is on Wednesday, May 10, 3:30-4:30 pm, at the GEO Office.



See a full schedule of GEO meetings and events here, and contact with any questions.

Wear your GEO shirt or pin on Wednesday for “Wear it Wednesday”! Take a photo and post it with the tag #WearitWednesday to share with us on Instagram or Twitter.

Physics Grads: GEO Bargaining Updates & Work Actions
Monday, May 1st, 6:00-7:30pm in Loomis 222. We will start this session with an overview of our contract proposal and updates on bargaining by the Bargaining Team. After this, the Work Action Group will talk about how you can support the GEO during to contract negotiations: one way is taking collective action to get a fair contract.

Food and drinks will be provided. You don’t have to be in the physics department to attend. Facebook event can be found here.

Coffee Cart
The GEO coffee cart is coming to you! Grab a free cup of coffee, some GEO swag, and chat with GEO members as the cart makes its way around the quad and into nearby buildings on Wednesdays from 11am to 1pm.



Twitter: @geo_uiuc
Facebook: @uigeo  @geosolcomm
Instagram: @geo_uiuc

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