BARGAINING, Announcements, Events, and Updates August 1, 2017


***August 1, 2017 — 15 days until our contract expires on August 15th***

Table of Contents:

  • Ninth Bargaining Session
      • Ways to be Involved with Bargaining
      • Call for Testimonials
  • Call for GEO Volunteers for Organizing at the TA Orientation
    • Wear It Wednesday
    • Work-In Wednesday
    • Coffee Cart
    • RA Working Group
    • Solidarity Committee
    • Grievance Committee
    • Stewards’ Council
    • Communications Committee
    • Coordinating Committee
    • Health Care Working Group





To Our GEO Members,

In less than a month on August 15th, our labor contract with the University of Illinois will expire, positioning us in an uncertain and unstable future as teaching assistants and graduate assistants this Fall. While we would prefer to put forth our energies towards teaching our students, conducting research, and performing service, we are burdened with the possibilities of financial insecurity and restricted access to resources. After eight bargaining sessions, the University of Illinois administration continues this dire situation by stalling the bargaining process at every turn, which assures us that we will be forced to work without a new contract. The GEO Bargaining Team has produced both graduate employee testimonials and multiple package proposals that would not only expedite the path towards a new contract, but also secure fair working and living conditions for our membership. However, the university admin continues to request more “evidence” for why we want to include protections for our members in this new contract.

Conversely, 2017 is beginning to look very much like 2012, when we bargained the contract that is about to expire. Dozens of members are swelling the bargaining room each session, growing more angry and disillusioned our treatment by the administration. GEO department stewards are intensifying and diversifying member organizing tactics through education work-ins, office visits, and solidarity with other labor and community organizations. In other words, GEO, we are fighting in every way possible to secure a FAIR contract for YOU. However, we can only win if we UNITE, work together, and empower each other to determine OUR working and living conditions. Please continue to join us in any capacity that you can: talk to your colleagues in your department, attend GEO events, and please tell us what you want in your labor contract! If we stand together, we can win anything.

La Lucha Continúa,

Gus Wood and Marilia Correa
Graduate Employees’ Organization Local 6300





Ninth Bargaining Session

GEO’s 9th bargaining session with the UIUC Administration will be on Tuesday, August 8, 9:00am-12:00pm, at the Illinois Fire Service Institute (11 Gerty Dr, Champaign, IL). All members are welcome! Refreshments will be provided.

Come to the bargaining session to help us fight for a contract that protects our rights as workers!

Directions and Travel Information to the Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI):

  • Carpool: the Bargaining Team has organized a carpool for members. If want to attend and need a ride, please fill out the carpool signup form on our website. Carpools will travel between the GEO Office and IFSI. Please let us know a few days in advance if you’d like a ride.
  • Parking: it is free to park in the designated visitor section of the IFSI lot.
  • Bike: there are at least two bike racks available in front of the IFSI main building.
  • Bus: the bus line is 1 South Yellow to Water Survey and the stop is the Water Survey building. Be sure your bus is labeled Water Survey, not Lot E-14 or Savoy Wal-Mart.

Here’s a link to the Facebook event for the ninth 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.

You can also find more information about bargaining on our website.

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

If you have questions about bargaining or the BT’s proposal, attending a BT meeting is the best way to address them. To find out about future meeting times, check the GEO events calendar or contact us at

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.


Call for GEO Volunteers for Organizing at the TA Orientation

GEO invites interested members to join us for organizing new members at the TA orientations on August 21 and 22nd. Come out and help new grad employees feel comfortable as they learn their way around UIUC. Interested members who want to sign up should contact the Stewards’ Council Co-Chair at






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.


Work-In Wednesday

We have a weekly work-in on Wednesdays at the Courtyard Cafe in the Illini Union, 11:00am-1:00pm. Come on out and bring some work or your lunch and spend some time in solidarity with your fellow employees. Work-ins are a great way to increase visibility and demonstrate our solidarity to the entire campus, as well as to ask questions and learn more about bargaining, future work actions, and how you can get involved. All are welcome. And don’t forget–it’s Wear-It Wednesday, so wear some GEO swag if you can!


Coffee Cart

The GEO coffee cart is coming to you! Grab a free cup of coffee, some GEO swag, and chat with GEO members about current issues facing graduate employees as the cart makes its way around the quad and into nearby buildings every week! Follow us on social media to find out where the cart is. If you’d like us to visit your building, please email us at

If you see us, take a photo and post it with the tag #CoffeeWithGEO to share with us on Instagram or Twitter.





RA Working Group:

RAs have concerns that overlap with, but are also distinct from, those of TAs and GAs. And although RAs are legally excluded from GEO’s bargaining unit, thus not covered by GEO’s contract with the university, they can still be active GEO members and work together to improve conditions across the university. The RA Working Group has formed to research and implement methods of successfully organizing and advocating for RAs. Please contact Zoë MacDowell Kaswan at for more information or if you are interested in participating.


Solidarity Committee (Sol Comm):

The Solidarity Committee (SolComm) serves to build ties of solidarity between the GEO and other people’s movements and local social justice-oriented projects. It does this through various means such as financial endorsements, statements of support, and collaborations. The SolComm has supported several organizations and movements locally and beyond with work towards economic, racial, gender, disability, prison, and environmental justice. If you have any questions about SolComm or would like to get involved, please contact the Solidarity Chair at The next meeting is on Tuesday, August 1, 5:00-6:00pm, at the GEO Office. All members are welcome!

Grievance Committee (GC):

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. For information on the next meeting, contact


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.


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. Stewards help organize GEO membership by planning events like Call Your Heather and GEO 101. Help bring events like these to your department. Please contact the Stewards’ Council Chair at 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 Thursday, August 3, 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. This fall we are working on messaging to members about bargaining, both in print and online via the GEO website and social media accounts. Please contact the Communications Officer at if you are interested in joining the Communications Committee or working on designing fliers and posters. All members are welcome! The next meeting is on Wednesday, August 2, 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 Co-Presidents at with any questions about the next meeting. The next CC meeting is on Thursday, August 3, 5:00-7:00pm, at the GEO office.


Health Care Working Group (HCWG):

The Health Care 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. Meetings are open to all members. For more information about the next meeting, please contact




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