Member Stories: Ryan Stock

GEO is fighting for a better contract for all graduate employees, including parents like Ryan! In our last counter-proposal, we proposed a more flexible parental accommodation that would allow parents to take their six weeks of parental leave starting up to six weeks after the birth of their child, rather than forcing them to take it immediately. This would be especially helpful for families where both parents are grad employees, as they could stagger their leave and make sure one parent is with their child for the first twelve weeks. At our last bargaining session, Ryan bravely stepped forward and shared his story with the administration, documenting the difficulties grad employee parents face and the need for greater support. Despite Ryan’s moving story, and the modesty of our proposal, the administration has been unwilling to move on it, citing vague “operational costs.” Read Ryan’s testimonial below, and come out to our next bargaining session on Thursday the 24th to help us fight for a fair contract for all grad employees!

 

“My name is Ryan Stock, I am a 3rd year PhD candidate and grad employee in Geography and GIS. I have served twice as the main instructor of an undergraduate course and as a TA four times at this university. Like many other employees represented by GEO, my specific skill-sets, knowledge base, and labor are essential for UIUC to thrive. And yet, here we are without a new contract. Seems ironic to “bite the hand that feeds it” at this crucial juncture for the institution. In addition to being a grad employee, I’m also the father of a brilliant, hilarious, unforgettable baby girl.

There are many grad employee parents on this campus that everyday struggle through a parallel grad school, parenthood, an education of its own that I’d argue is much harder than grad school. And we’re drowning. To quote the great James C. Scott, grad employee parents are a population “permanently up to the neck in water,” vulnerable to drowning by even the tiniest ripple. During the 10th bargaining session, the administration told me to my face that it was “operationally challenging” to protect my family. Yet the administration is “operationally thrilled” to receive my labor, my expertise, my ambition. Every day I find myself in “operationally challenging” situations that most UIUC faculty and staff do not have to face: TA-work + grad student research, barely enough money for healthcare, no money for daycare, and rarely any time to run home and urgently address crises that arise with toddlers. Now that Shyan is 14 months old, she requires even more care and interaction. The primary reason I am not able to access childcare for my daughter is because I am underpaid. Daycare is prohibitively expensive and as university employees, we make well-below the poverty line. Raising a family on this income requires daily sacrifices and creativity to keep the lights on.

A grad employee contract that includes childcare subsidies and flexible parental leave would mean the world to my family. As essential cogs in the university machine, we are entitled to employment that protects our families, our dignity and our well-being. Flexible parental leave would ensure proper bonding with newborns that doesn’t jeopardize employment. As professional educators, why should we be punished for having children, making the same decision that many administrators, faculty and staff have made? This would cost the university almost nothing and would be reimbursed by vastly improved productivity and focus by grad employee parents like me who frankly cannot keep up with the daily stressors of work, research and raising a child. Students at UIUC deserve the best educational experience, wouldn’t you agree?

Protect our families!! Fair contract now!”

BARGAINING: Tenth Session Summary August 15, 2017

***August 15, 2017 — our contract expired today!***

Today, the GEO Bargaining Team (BT) and the UIUC Administration held their tenth 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 24, 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.

What we did:

GEO gave the administration a response to their package proposal on Leaves and Holidays, proposing flexible Parental Leave and stronger language to protect international graduate employees for Visa and Immigration Leave. Three members shared testimonials about their experiences with parental leave and childcare.

And a huge THANK YOU to all the members who shared their moving testimonials, demonstrating the necessity for language which guarantees both flexible parental accommodations and a child care subsidy.

What the Administration did:

The Administration rejected our proposal on more flexible parental leave, calling it “operationally challenging”–even though it isn’t a monetary proposal and benefits departments as well as grad employees. They also added a sentence to the Visa and Immigration Leave article stating that supervisors and Human Resources would “strive” to help graduate employees with these issues, but the language does not guarantee protection.

How we responded:

GEO refused to sign the Administration’s package proposal, as we want to try to win even stronger language for our parents, international, and DACA students. We cannot win this fight without member support. The Administration has shown that they are not interested in our rational arguments for why our proposals are necessary, so come to our rally, come to our next bargaining session, and show the Administration how powerful we are. If we want to win anything substantive related to visa and immigration or parents’ rights, we need everyone to step up and help organize. Come to our rally tomorrow, and be sure to come to our next bargaining session on August 24th!

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 barg@uigeo.org. You can also find more info about bargaining at our website.

 

What Comes Next:

Join the Rally For A Fair Contract, which will take place the day after GEO’s contract expires. The GEO will hold the rally in tandem with other campus labor unions to declare that “The University Only Works Because We Do”! All community members are invited to the rally on the main quad on Wednesday, August 16, from 12:00 to 1:00pm Central Time, to stand up for the rights of graduate workers and to demonstrate unity and power, while sending a message to the Administration to “work with us” at the bargaining table to secure a fair contract for all graduate employees. There will be multiple speakers from GEO, NTFC, and AFSCME. Attendees are invited to wear a GEO shirt and bring a sign. From 11-11:45am, GEO members will be in the Courtyard Cafe of the Illini Union with materials to make signs and posters, and the rally will begin at noon.

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.

Our Contract Expires Today–What Does That Mean For You?

The GEO has been bargaining with the administration since March, working hard to secure a new, more equitable contract based on the four pillars our membership voted on last spring: Tuition and Fee Waivers, Healthcare, Wages, and Access and Equality.

Because we are still negotiating with the Administration, we are entering the fall semester without a new contract. However, the expired contract includes a clause stating that it will remain in effect during negotiations, so you can go to work as you normally would.

GEO is committed to winning a better contract for all our members, but our power is directly determined by our membership. We won our first major victory a few weeks ago by expanding our non-discrimination clause to include ethnicity, gender expression, visa and immigration status, and arrest record as protected categories. We were only able to achieve this because members organized around this issue, and came to bargaining sessions to show their support –and there’s a lot of work still to be done! If you haven’t been involved with GEO in the past, now is the perfect time to join a committee, become a Steward for your department, or come to a bargaining session. Together, let’s win our best contract yet!

Here’s some information that our Bargaining Team research group compiled on the surprising state of university finances: Setting the Record Straight on University Finances

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 geo@uigeo.org 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 barg@uigeo.org 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. You can find examples of testimonials from bargaining on our website under “Member Stories.”

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 geo@uigeo.org. Bargaining Team meetings and bargaining sessions are open to all members. Please contact the Bargaining Team (barg@uigeo.org) with any questions.

 

Follow GEO Online:

Website: www.uigeo.org

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.

 

BARGAINING, Contract Expiration, and Rally for a Fair Contract! August 15, 2017

 

***August 15, 2017 — Our contract expired today!***

Table of Contents:

  • CONTRACT EXPIRATION
  • ANNOUNCEMENTS
  • Tenth Bargaining Session on August 15th
      • Ways to be Involved with Bargaining
      • Call for Testimonials
  • Press Release for Contract Expiration and Rally for a Fair Contract on August 16th
  • EVENTS
    • Rally for a Fair Contract on August 16th
    • Wear It Wednesday
    • Work-In Wednesday
    • Coffee Cart
  • CONNECT WITH GEO

————–

CONTRACT EXPIRATION

A Message From the GEO Bargaining Team: Our Contract Expires Today–What Does That Mean For You?

The GEO has been bargaining with the administration since March, working hard to secure a new, more equitable contract based on the four pillars our membership voted on last spring: Tuition and Fee Waivers, Healthcare, Wages, and Access and Equality.

Because we are still negotiating with the Administration, we are entering the fall semester without a new contract. However, the expired contract includes a clause stating that it will remain in effect during negotiations, so you can go to work as you normally would.

GEO is committed to winning a better contract for all our members, but our power is directly determined by our membership. We won our first major victory a few weeks ago by expanding our non-discrimination clause to include ethnicity, gender expression, visa and immigration status, and arrest record as protected categories. We were only able to achieve this because members organized around this issue, and came to bargaining sessions to show their support –and there’s a lot of work still to be done! If you haven’t been involved with GEO in the past, now is the perfect time to join a committee, become a Steward for your department, or come to a bargaining session. Together, let’s win our best contract yet!

Read on for information about our Rally for a Fair Contract on Wednesday, August 16th.

Here’s some information that our Bargaining Team research group compiled on the surprising state of university finances: Setting the Record Straight on University Finances.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Tenth Bargaining Session

GEO’s 10th bargaining session with the UIUC Administration will be on Tuesday, August 15, 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):

Take Neal Street to Gerty Drive, turn by the Credit Union, and go to the end of Gerty Drive (past the stop sign). The Illinois Fire Service Institute will be on your left.

  • 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 tenth 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 barg@uigeo.org.

 

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 barg@uigeo.org 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.

 

——————————————–

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: GRADUATE EMPLOYEES’ ORGANIZATION (GEO) CONTRACT WITH THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN EXPIRED! RALLY FOR A FAIR CONTRACT NOW ON AUGUST 16th, 2017, AT 12PM

Urbana-Champaign (August 15, 2017): The Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is holding a rally on August 16th on the main quad of campus. This rally is to demand a new contract for GEO as soon as possible, while criticizing the Administration’s approach to bargaining. As of August 15th, GEO’s current contract with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has expired without a new contract being signed.  The GEO took numerous proactive measures to push for a new, fair contract within a reasonable time frame, months before the August 15th expiration.

The GEO presented its full comprehensive contract proposal in March, provided data and narratives to justify its proposals, and gave forthright answers to the Administrations’ questions at every bargaining session. In return, the Administration has repeatedly stalled bargaining and put forth regressive proposals which would negatively impact graduate employees, particularly by reducing tuition waiver protection and not offering wage increases over time. Beginning in March, the GEO presented its comprehensive contract proposal to the Administration, based on four pillars voted on by membership: Wages, Tuition and Fee Waivers, Healthcare, and Access and Equality (which includes visa and immigration leave, childcare support for grad employee parents, expansion to the non-discrimination clause, and bereavement leave). Many members’ testimonials and the data the GEO’s Bargaining Team presented in negotiation sessions have demonstrated repeatedly that these  are not only reasonable components for a fair contract, but that they are crucial to the livelihood, health, and productivity of graduate employees on this campus.    

With the start of the fall semester approaching, the Administration has placed graduate employees in a precarious position with an uncertain future by willfully stalling labor negotiations–they are jeopardizing pay, healthcare, workplace safety, tuition waivers, access to resources, and other basic and necessary protections that graduate employees need and deserve as workers. Graduate employees are crucial to University  operations, and the Administration’s actions at the bargaining table only weaken our campus and communities and negatively impact graduate employees’ living and working conditions.

If the Administration continues to stall, graduate employees will have no choice but to force them to bargain a fair contract by organizing GEO members, allies, community members, and other campus unions to disrupt campus operation in multiple coordinated protest actions. The GEO refuses to allow the Administration to diminish the rights of its members and destroy their ability to live and work as graduate employees and members of this university. The GEO asks that you stand in solidarity with this struggle and join the Rally For A Fair Contract, which will take place the day after GEO’s contract expires. The GEO will hold the rally in tandem with other campus labor unions to declare that “The University Only Works Because We Do”! All community members are invited to the rally on the main quad on Wednesday, August 16, from 12:00 to 1:00pm Central Time, to stand up for the rights of graduate workers and to demonstrate unity and power, while sending a message to the Administration to “work with us” at the bargaining table to secure a fair contract for all graduate employees. There will be multiple speakers from GEO, NTFC, SEIU, and AFSCME. Attendees are invited to wear a GEO shirt and bring a sign. From 11-11:45am, GEO members will be in the Courtyard Cafe of the Illini Union with materials to make signs and posters, and the rally will begin at noon.

The Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, AFT/IFT Local 6300, celebrated its 20th birthday on May 1, 2017. After several years of collective organizing, UIUC graduate employees voted to establish GEO as their official union representative in the spring of 1997. The University of Illinois refused to recognize the results of the election but years of organizing and civil disobedience, alongside a legal battle, culminated in an occupation of Swanlund Administration Building in 2002 and subsequent negotiations with University officials. The first contract was signed in 2003.

Since then, GEO has successfully bargained three additional contracts, secured tuition waiver protections, won improved wages and more affordable healthcare, established a grievance procedure to protect graduate employee rights, and much more. In GEO’s official twenty-year history, it has become famous among labor organizations nationwide for its strength and commitment to democratic principles, and a 2009 strike that brought more than 1,000 people to campus picket lines.  

The Graduate Employees’ Organization, AFT/IFT Local 6300, AFL-CIO, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, represents approximately 2,700 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 an active presence in the community, the GEO continues to work for high-quality and accessible public education in Illinois.

For more information, please contact GEO’s Communications Officer at commcomm@uigeo.org. More information can also be found on GEO’s website at www.uigeo.org.

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

###

————–

EVENTS:

Rally for a Fair Contract

Demand a fair contract! On Wednesday, August 16th, 12:00-1:00pm, we will be having a rally on campus to demand a contract that protects our members’ rights as graduate employee workers. Here is a link to the Facebook event for the rally. Wear your GEO swag and bring a sign! Everyone is welcome. #FairContractNow

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! Tag photos from the work in with #WorkInWednesday to share with us on social media.

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 geo@uigeo.org.

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

 

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

 

————–

 

CONNECT WITH GEO!

Website: www.uigeo.org
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.


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

 

 

Member Stories: Rezvan

Tomorrow at our bargaining session, we’ll be fighting for a number of really important access and equality issues, including trying to get more flexible leave for parents when they have a child. We’ll also be continuing to push for our Visa and Immigration leave article. Here’s one of our members, Rezvan, sharing her story about some of the troubles international grad workers face and why we need language in our contract supporting them:

————–

I started my graduate studies at UIUC in Fall 2010 in the
physics department. On December 10, 2012 I left the US for the
first, and only, time I have visited my family back in Iran. When I
departed I already had my return ticket for the second week of
January 2013. As an Iranian national I have a single entry visa,
which requires me to apply for a new visa every time I exit the US.

Additionally, I need to go to a neighboring country to apply for a
US visa since there is no US embassy in Iran. Before I left, I
scheduled my visa interview at the US consulate in Dubai for
December 16, 2012. At my interview I was told my visa would not take more than 3-4 weeks. After three and then four weeks passed and the spring semester approached, I still had no news of my visa.

Optimistically, I pushed my flight back a few days, and then a few more days, getting charged rebooking fees each time. Finally my visa was ready on the first week of February 2013 and I returned to the US on February 10, nearly one month after I initially planned to return. I was lucky not to be a TA that semester as I had TAed for five semesters and was an RA since Fall 2012.

My advisor, the late Professor Klaus Schulten, was
understanding and supportive and continued paying me all that
time that I was stranded so that I was able to pay my rent and my university fee for the Spring 2013 semester. I have not set foot outside the US since then, neither for a visit back home nor for a conference or workshop. RAs are at the mercy of their supervisors a nd TAs and GAs can only rely on the university as their employer under such distressing conditions. I TAed again after Spring 2013 but never was confident that UIUC will stand for me if an emergency came up and I needed to leave the US.

Either UIUC needs the labor of International graduate students it hires or it does not. If it does, then it makes sense to support the employees when they are in need.

BARGAINING: Ninth Session Summary August 8, 2017

***August 8, 2017 — 7 days until our contract expires on August 15th***

Today, the GEO Bargaining Team (BT) and the UIUC Administration held their ninth 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 15, 2017, 9:00am-12:00pm, Illinois Fire Service Institute (11 Gerty Drive, Champaign). This is the date that our contract expires. All members are welcome! You can also find more information about bargaining on our website.

Key takeaways from today’s session:

 

  • We won our first TA!  Today we were able to sign a package proposal centered on non-discrimination that added ethnicity, gender expression, arrest record, and visa and  immigration status as protected categories. We have also stated on the record our understanding that micro-aggressions are considered harassment under our contract. Given the current political climate, and the initial resistance from the Administration, this is a huge win for us in ensuring we can do everything we can to protect our members!
  • We made meaningful movement towards securing our Visa and Immigration Leave language. After initially resisting our efforts to include this language in the contract at all, the Administration gave us a counter-proposal that included brand new Visa and Immigration language. Although we are still working on strengthening this language, this is a good sign that we are going to make strides in this area in our contract. Our members, their testimonials, and their continued presence in the bargaining room made this movement possible. This proves that we can make real gains–IF we are all willing to fight together!
  • Member attendance is outstanding! Thank you to everyone who came today! The GEO looks to member input when crafting our counter proposals and we will continue to do so throughout the bargaining process.  It is incredibly helpful for us to have passionate people in the room–and it makes a powerful statement to the Administration about our unity and resolve. With our contract about to expire, continued member involvement is essential. We hope to see even more new faces at the next bargaining session!

 

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 barg@uigeo.org. 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 geo@uigeo.org 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 barg@uigeo.org 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 geo@uigeo.org. Bargaining Team meetings and bargaining sessions are open to all members. Please contact the Bargaining Team (barg@uigeo.org) with any questions.

Follow GEO Online:
Website: www.uigeo.org
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.

 

Member Stories: Esti

Last week, we shared Al’s testimonial documenting the need for robust nondiscrimination language in our contract, as well as language protecting international and DACA grad employees who are forced to miss work because of visa issues. This evening, we want to share the story of Esti, another member who bravely stepped forward to tell the Administration about the difficulties international grad workers face. We continue the fight to protect our members in our bargaining session–you can help by coming to the session or getting involved in our of our committees!

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Prior to coming to this country, I knew nothing about visas or I-20s: what they mean, how they work, the procedures one needs to follow to obtain them and to keep these documents in good standing. I consider myself now quite an expert on this subject, and I believe this is true for all international graduate employees who have spent at least two years in this campus. Unfortunately, this expertise is the result of the difficulties we, international graduate employees, often encounter when navigating the visa application and renewal processes. One of such difficulties is not getting the passport with the corresponding visa on time to come to the US. This happens quite often; it has happened to me, in fact. Most of us have to wait to the summer and winter breaks to renew our visas. That is the only time we can travel back home to take care of it. Because of the short window to schedule an appointment with the Consular section—it needs to be no more than two months in advance to the desired date—and the amount of people who are also looking at the same dates for the same reasons, the time span between the interview at the Consulate, the arrival of the visa—it usually takes between seven and 15 natural days to get the passport back in Spain; in some countries it can take more time—and the day of departure to the US is quite narrow. So any delay in the application or renewal process can have a big impact. And delays do happen, no matter how well in advanced you have done everything. A document may be missing, in which case you have to make a new appointment with the Consulate or, as it was my case, the weather and holiday season may get in the way: because of a flood alert, my renewed visa arrived the very day I had booked my flight back to the US in January. So I had to reschedule my trip which is not easy when you have more than one connecting flight. Moreover, rescheduling flights at the end of the holiday season is tricky because everybody is going back to work/school from their vacation time. But that wasn’t the only problem. The problem was whether I would be able to arrive on time to teach the first week of classes and whether the university would be okay if I couldn’t. Would a late arrival impact my teaching assistantship? Would I still be paid if it was beyond my control to arrive by the time the semester began? In my case, I was expecting to be no more than a week late, but it could have been weeks, even months. It has happened to other international graduate employees in this campus. It is for this reason that we completely rely on the University’s help and collaboration to make sure that these difficulties won’t jeopardize our contracts.

Member Stories: Alvaro Cruz

Meet Al, a 3rd year graduate employee studying psychology. As part of our ongoing contract negotiations with the Administration, GEO has proposed language that would expand our non-discrimination clause, as well as language designed to protect international and DACA students in the event that they have to miss work due to mandatory visa or immigration proceedings. In response, the Administration demanded we provide them with testimonials from our members to demonstrate the need for these proposals. A number of our members, like Al, bravely stepped forward to share their stories, but still, the administration has refused to sign our language. We need as many people to pack the room at our bargaining session on Tuesday to demonstrate our power to the Administration and make some real strides in winning protections for our membership! You can read Al’s full story below:

My name is Alvaro Cruz. This fall I will be a third-year graduate employee in the Psychology department, and although I’ve yet to receive an official appointment letter, am planning on working as the lecturer for PSYC 235, Intro to Statistics.

As it relates to my experience, the opportunity to attend a University has always been intertwined with access to external funding that is not federal student aid or loans. My K through 12 educational experience, as a Latino kid growing up on the outskirts of Chicago was no different than that of millions of public school working-class students across the country. It wasn’t until senior year of high school that I realized that as an undocumented student going to college would be that much more difficult due to my inability to access said federal aid. Internal doubts I had were brushed aside with external ones; a high school counselor who didn’t believe I would be accepted to, much less be able to attend college, and sent one application four weeks late. The only reason I know this happened is because this was for my eventual alma mater and a counselor there told me so. Luckily, I was at the right institution at the right time and I was able to receive an aptitude-based tuition waiver which was the principal reason I was able to attend and ultimately graduate college in 2013, double-majoring in Applied Psychology and Mathematics and minoring in History.

There were struggles along the way, like not being able to work at the university or have any stable form of employment. My freshman year of college I worked at a retirement home as an activities aid. It was a pretty considerate job, they understood my college schedule and I had enough for books and the rest of the fees my tuition waiver didn’t cover. Eventually though I had to quit after a few months since I failed to provide the proper documentation proving my ability to legally work in the United States. Having to disclose my immigration status as an 18-year-old to the Human Resources department and my direct supervisor was emotionally exhaustive and disheartening but it quickly opened my eyes to the limiting circumstances of the workforce world I had to learn to navigate. From that point on for the remainder of my time in college I worked at a restaurant and in odd jobs where I would be paid under the table and off record.
Sophomore year, I was told by a then-friend that I was undeserving of my tuition waiving scholarship, since to them my immigration status seemingly nullified my academic aptitude and made it unfair for other people like themselves who had been fortunate enough to be born within the borders of this country. There were also hateful messages written over portraits of similar students such as myself. They had proclaimed to be undocumented and unafraid and had several coming out of the shadows events on campus to raise awareness around legislation such as the DREAM Act and broadly help the push for immigration reform under President Obama’s first term. And their voices were heard, though not everyone was willing to hear them or see their faces cast on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus.

After graduation I applied for DACA, or Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals, an executive order enacted by President Barack Obama in 2012 providing immigration relief to individuals like me, who had arrived to the United States at a young age with their parent(s) and had practically no say in their current immigrant status. This permit granted me the opportunity to be lawfully employable. I worked for about a year and half but the job never felt like a career, and I decided to apply for Quantitative Psychology doctoral programs. Eventually I settled on attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign not only due to its offered tuition waiver program but also the welcoming atmosphere I felt as a DACAmented student and future employee. I moved to Champaign and began my first year in the fall of 2015. The staff at the Psychology department have been welcoming and attentive to my specific needs, and luckily I’ve never been personally victimized for my immigrant status these past two years. There has been fewer opportunities in the form of fellowship and grant ineligibility, and though technically I am a state of Illinois resident I am an international student for official purposes with the University, which I should note factors into tuition rates. But I’ve been able to work, and am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to do so. The tuition waiver as a form of compensation has provided me with another option to further educate myself without the burden of taking out substantial student loans. Similar to my undergraduate experience, if it weren’t for the tuition waiver I would not be in a position to pursue higher education. I simply wouldn’t be able to afford it.

After the past election I felt the need to come out to my students, as a person that could directly be affected by the president-elect and his proposed policies towards immigrants. They were supportive and despite the several instances of hateful chalk messages in the university quad directed towards undocumented immigrants I’ve felt the majority of people in the campus community and beyond have been caring. I have however heard from fellow classmates and students that haven’t been so fortunate. They’ve been told to speak English by community members, as if speaking any non-English language is somehow an unacceptable transgression. And in the workplace they’ve received threatening behavior from students; thrown notebooks and other belongings, aggressively questioned for policies put in place from the very beginning of the course, and overall been inexplicably undermined while other TA’s such as myself, for whom English is not a second language, perhaps have not had to face such informal vetting. My wish would be for them to share their story personally but they would rather not draw attention to their teaching, lest they be deemed inadequate for the job. I’ve also seen far too many videos shared by immigrants living in this country who’ve been harassed for their accents, for the way they look, for seemingly not being “American” enough. This is a sad reality for our country, and though personally I do not find it edifying to always assume the worst behavior in others it is important to be aware that there are those whom still take part in vitriol behavior towards others based on appearance and perceived immigration status.

The last two years I’ve had to miss at least a day of instruction three separate times due to immigration issues. Twice I had to drive to Indianapolis for biometric appointments, once to Chicago for an interview and fortunately all three instances did not interfere with my job duty as a TA but it did however interfere with my graduate courses. And I was fortunate to have an understanding lecturer and supervisor for my teaching assistant course who assured me beforehand that should any immigration appointment fall on a day of instruction that they would cover it for me. I wish I could say that all of us could rely on understanding and empathetic supervisors but I do not quite believe we can reasonably expect all people to be this way. This is why we need to further protect our growing international student body, many whom are also members of our union and work as teaching or graduate assistants. They may also have personal immigration matters to attend to but might not necessarily have the supportive supervisors I’ve been fortunate enough to have myself.

As of April of this year I was able to apply for permanent residency through a marriage petition by my husband and I am no longer a DACAmented student. Yet I do not want to forget what that was like. Nor do I want people who have my previous immigrant status or any other one that is harder to index to have to go through the smaller pool of opportunities that I went through. On the contrary, I can speak for the rest of my colleagues and fellow Graduate Employee Organization members when I say that we want to make it easier for prospective students, employees. We want to uplift them, make sure they have the most opportunities, for them to live their years here to the fullest so that they may be able to reach their brimming potential. And please understand that in helping us to do so, with a fair contract, also helps the University and the rest of the students.

The University works because we do. And if you have workers who feel supported and fully upheld in their workplace, then they will be the best employees they can possibly be. And that is beneficial to everyone, from the students and other workplace individuals, to the employees themselves, to the employer at large.

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

 

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

Table of Contents:

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

 

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CO-PRESIDENTS’ MESSAGE:

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
Co-Presidents
Graduate Employees’ Organization Local 6300

 

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ANNOUNCEMENTS:

 

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 barg@uigeo.org.

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 barg@uigeo.org 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 sc@uigeo.org.

 

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EVENTS:

 

See a full schedule of GEO meetings and events here, and contact geo@uigeo.org 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

#WorkInWednesday
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

#CoffeeWithGEO
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 geo@uigeo.org.

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

 

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COMMITTEE UPDATES:

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 officer3@uigeo.org 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 solcomm@uigeo.org. 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 grievance@uigeo.org.

DID YOU KNOW???

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 sc@uigeo.org 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 commcomm@uigeo.org 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 cc@uigeo.org 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 geo@uigeo.org.

 

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CONNECT WITH GEO!
Website: www.uigeo.org
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.


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

 

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 barg@uigeo.org. 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 geo@uigeo.org 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 barg@uigeo.org 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 geo@uigeo.org. Bargaining Team meetings and bargaining sessions are open to all members. Please contact the Bargaining Team (barg@uigeo.org) with any questions.

 

Follow GEO Online:

Website: www.uigeo.org

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.

 

BARGAINING, Announcements, Events, and Updates July 17, 2017

Table of Contents:

  • ANNOUNCEMENTS
    • Eighth Bargaining Session
      • Ways to be Involved with Bargaining
      • Call for Testimonials
    • Call for GEO T-Shirt Slogan Ideas
    • GEO Has Moved
  • EVENTS
    • Wear It Wednesday
    • Healthcare Town Hall
    • GEO 101
    • Strategic Communications Workshop III
  • COMMITTEE UPDATES
    • RA Working Group
    • Grievance Committee
    • Stewards’ Council
    • Communications Committee
    • Solidarity Committee
      • Solidarity Statement
    • Coordinating Committee
    • Health Care Working Group
  • CONNECT WITH GEO

 

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ANNOUNCEMENTS:

 

Eighth Bargaining Session

GEO’s eighth bargaining session with the UIUC Administration will be on Tuesday, July 25, 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 eighth 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 barg@uigeo.org.

 

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 barg@uigeo.org 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’s 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.

 

Call for GEO T-Shirt Slogan Ideas

The Communications Committee invites GEO members to submit their slogan ideas for new GEO t-shirts. We are especially looking for ideas that connect to GEO’s four bargaining pillars. Members are invited to submit their slogan ideas by midnight on Friday, July 21, to commcomm@uigeo.org, for consideration by the Communications Committee.


GEO Has Moved

As of Friday, July 7th, GEO has moved to its new, bigger-and-better office space! We still remain in the McKinley Foundation (809 S 5th Street, Champaign) on the ground floor, but relocated from the sunroom to the Geneva Room. This new office space will provide GEO with both a larger and more efficient space, but also more opportunities to meet and organize on behalf of graduate employees across the campus. Stop by the Geneva Room to see our new organizing space!

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EVENTS:

See a full schedule of GEO meetings and events here, and contact geo@uigeo.org 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.

 

Healthcare Town Hall

Anxious about healthcare? The GEO’s Health Care Working Group has organized a Town Hall event for graduate students focused on the themes of access, patient care, experiences, inclusion, and improving health care for all graduate student populations and dependents.

Come to our town hall meeting on Wednesday, July 19, 4:00-6:00pm, at the Asian American Cultural Center Lounge (1210 W Nevada St., Urbana, IL 61801). Free food will be provided! To RSVP, please go to the Facebook event for the Healthcare Town Hall.

Also, this is a family-friendly event, so go ahead and bring your children, partners, relatives or anyone else who is (un)covered by your insurance and would like to know more.

 

GEO 101
Or, The Importance of Organizing as a Graduate Student

What is GEO? Why does the TA contract matter for graduate students/employees who primarily work as RAs? What is the current state of negotiations? How does GEO benefit those outside the bargaining unit in other ways? Come to learn the answers to these questions and more! Following the success of our June event in RAL, we are holding a second RA-focused informational discussion on Thursday, July 27, at 1:00pm. Location TBD; keep an eye on the Facebook event here. Food will be provided.

 

Strategic Communications Workshop III

The Communications Committee invites GEO members to attend the next Strategic Communications Workshop to learn about bargaining messaging on Thursday, July 27, 6:00-8:00pm, at the School of Labor and Employment Relations (504 E Armory Ave, Champaign).

 

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COMMITTEE UPDATES:

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. Our first meeting will be Friday, July 28, 12:00-2:00pm. Please contact Zoë MacDowell Kaswan at officer3@uigeo.org for more information or if you are interested in attending.

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 solcomm@uigeo.org.

Statement in Solidarity with Bangladeshi Workers in Response to Gazipur Boiler Explosion

GEO stands in solidarity with Bangladeshi garment workers and offers our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the workers killed and injured in the boiler explosion in Gazipur on July 3rd. “We understand that workers’ safety can only be secured if workers have the right to organize and join unions. Therefore, we demand that the right to unionize and form trade unions in all garments factories without any threat or harm be respected and secured.” Read our full solidarity statement on our website.

 

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 grievance@uigeo.org.

DID YOU KNOW???

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 http://www.uigeo.org/grievances/grievance-report/. 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 want to help educate their departments about what’s happening at the bargaining table. Please contact the Stewards’ Council Chair at sc@uigeo.org 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, July 18, 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 summer we are working on developing a new media campaign around bargaining and ordering and designing new t-shirts and other swag for GEO, as well as updating GEO’s Chambana Guide in preparation for the fall orientation for new grad employees. Please contact the Communications Officer at commcomm@uigeo.org if you are interested in joining the Communications Committee. All members are welcome! The next meeting is on Wednesday, July 26, 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 cc@uigeo.org with any questions about the next meeting. The next CC meeting is on Thursday July 20, 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 geo@uigeo.org.

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CONNECT WITH GEO!

Twitter: @geo_uiuc

Facebook: @uigeo  @geosolcomm

Instagram: @geo_uiuc