BARGAINING: Eighth Session Summary July 25, 2017

***July 25, 2017 — 21 days until our contract expires on August 15th***

Today, the GEO Bargaining Team (BT) and the UIUC Administration held their eighth bargaining session. Thank you to all members who attended!

Please read below for more information on what happened today and what comes next.

NEXT BARGAINING SESSION: Tuesday, August 8, 2017, 9:00am-12:00pm, Illinois Fire Service Institute (11 Gerty Drive, Champaign). All members are welcome! You can also find more information about bargaining on our website.

Key takeaways from today’s session:

  1. We once again had substantial turnout from membership. Even after the Administration brought extra chairs into the room, the session was still standing-room only. Let’s keep packing the room–demonstrating our power in this way is CRUCIAL to making progress at the table.

  2. We rejected the Administration’s package proposal centered around non-discrimination. They responded to our last proposal with one that, as we proposed, added citizenship and immigration status, ethnicity, gender expression, and arrest record as protected categories, but did not include parental status or medical condition as we had proposed. Additionally, the Administration attempted to add language that imposes limitations on the grievance procedure related to discrimination, which led to our rejection of the proposal.

  3. We presented a package on Immigration and Visa Leave. Our lead negotiator shared the statistic that roughly 44% of graduate students at the University of Illinois are international students, but the Administration said that immigration-related leave issues were an uncommon problem.

  4. We gave the Administration an additional package proposal designed to make the Bereavement Leave article less discriminatory. Our proposal expands the definition of “immediate family” and strikes the “same-sex” qualification from domestic partnership language. It also removes language from an earlier, offensive proposal given to us by the Administration which essentially stipulated that domestic partnerships must be able to prove they have “emotional interdependence consistent with a married couple.” Since we’ve gotten their comprehensive proposal, we’ve provided substantial package proposals at every single session. And yet…

  5. The Administration is continuing to stall. The Administration has still not replied to an information request we submitted a week ago asking for a copy of their healthcare contract with United Healthcare, despite their repeated insistence that they are responsive and want to finish negotiations quickly. Furthermore, after we submitted a counter to their non-discrimination package that removed the language imposing limitations on a grievance procedure, it took them over an hour to consider our changes and offer a counter–even though all they did was move that language elsewhere in the document!

After the last bargaining session, members called the Administration’s lead negotiator as part of our Call Your Heather! event to tell her about our issues, since in a former bargaining session Heather dismissed the need for collective bargaining by stating that she would address issues on an individualized basis. Members called and emailed Heather about issues such as the vital need for tuition waivers, inadequate and unaffordable healthcare, and many more. In response, Heather sent those who contacted her a copy-and-pasted template response which, ironically, referred to “addressing work-related concerns” on an “individualized basis.” Instances like this demonstrate why we need to organize as graduate employees and fight for a fair collective bargaining agreement!

If you have questions about bargaining or the BT’s proposal, attending a meeting is the best way to address them. You can reach us at You can also find more info about bargaining at our website.

What Comes Next:

Members, we need all of your participation for this struggle! Please attend the next bargaining session: we need you! The Bargaining Team represents members at the table. We look to you, the members, for input when we go to break out sessions. The more members in the room, the better informed our decisions at the table.

Attending bargaining sessions is the best way to actively engage in the negotiation of your wages, healthcare, and other protections. It is perfectly acceptable to come late or leave early from a bargaining session if you can’t stay the entire time. Just being present demonstrates our unity and strength to the Administration. You can even bring your work if you want. Coffee and food will be provided.

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.

Are you a member?

Our members are why we succeed at the bargaining table! If you haven’t signed a membership card yet, don’t delay! Contact us at to sign a membership card. If you’re not sure of your membership status, please ask!

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 immigration/visa leave. If you have an experience to share about these (or other!) issues, please consider sharing it with the Bargaining Team. 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.

Note: When choosing to have your testimonial read at a bargaining session, the GEO’s bargaining team wants to ensure you know and understand your rights. Interactions that happen at the bargaining table become part of a record that may be referred to later in legal decisions that determine the intent, meaning, and scope of new contract language. As an official action at the bargaining table, your testimonial will be a part of that record.

To ensure that the Administration does not misrepresent your words, the Bargaining Team requests your permission to deliver printed copies of your testimonial to the Administration’s Bargaining Team. While your testimonial is being read, notetakers on both bargaining teams will be taking notes, but providing a paper copy of your testimonial ensures that the Administration cannot misrepresent, misquote, or twist your words at a later date. Testimonials can still be made and submitted anonymously.

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.


Follow GEO Online:


Twitter: @geo_uiuc

Facebook: @uigeo @geosolcomm

Instagram: @geo_uiuc


Text the word “GEO” to 69238 to receive periodic messages concerning crucial bargaining updates and other urgent information. Msg & data rates may apply. Text STOP to 69238 to stop receiving messages. Text HELP to 69238 for more information. Terms & Conditions.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *