BARGAINING: First Session on Thursday, March 30, 2017


GEO’s first bargaining session with the UIUC administration will be on Thursday, March 30, 9:00am-12:00pm, at the Fire Service Institute (FSI) (11 Gerty Dr, Champaign, IL 61820). The Bargaining Team will present its initial contract proposal to the UIUC administration. All members are welcome to attend this 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.

After each bargaining session, GEO will send a recap of session highlights to all members via an email and social media.

Directions and Travel Information to Fire Service Institute (FSI):

The Bargaining Team has organized a carpool for members. If want to attend and need a ride, please email and include your preferred pickup location.

    • Parking is free in the FSI lot.
    • There are at least two bike racks available in front of the FSI main building.
    • Bus line is Yellow1 and drops off in front of the water survey building.
      • Travel from Presby Hall to FSI on March 30th starting at 7:45 am. Avg ride: 20ish minutes


Strategic Communications Workshop for Bargaining

The Communications Committee invites you to attend the Strategic Communication workshop with Stephanie Fortado on Wednesday, March 29, 6:00-8:00pm, in room 43 at the School of Labor and Employment Relations (504 E Armory Ave, Champaign). Food will be provided. Please RSVP by emailing if you are interested in attending so that we can get an accurate count of attendees for ordering food.


Ways to stay informed about bargaining:

Follow GEO online:

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


Text Updates: 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.

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


Committee Updates and Events March 16



Hi all,

We hope this message meets you well. Below you will find updates from committees and awesome events that the GEO is hosting or cosponsoring. Of note is that we will have our first bargaining session March 30th.

As we go into bargaining, your participation is crucial in both big and small actions. Can’t make it to a meeting committee? Volunteer to do work that can be done remotely. Have too much on your plate already? Wear you GEO shirt or pin on Wednesday for “Wear it Wednesdays” or keep up to date on what’s going on and let others know. We will let you all know what’s going on at the bargaining table through GEO-L, which you are already subscribed to, and our social media accounts, which are linked at the bottom of this email.

Have a wonderful spring break!


Shawn Fields



Sign up for GEO text message alerts!

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 Team:

GEO’s contract with the UIUC Administration is expiring on August 15, 2017. Last year, the Bargaining Research Team conducted research and surveys on important issues for graduate employees at UIUC. The Bargaining Research Team presented four bargaining pillars (Tuition Waivers and Fees, Wages, Healthcare, and Access and Equality) to the membership, which were unanimously approved by a vote at the General Membership Meeting on February 1st, 2017. At this meeting, the Bargaining Team was also selected and unanimously approved by a vote.

Our first bargaining session with the UIUC administration will be on Thursday, March 30, 9:00am-12:00pm, at the Fire Institute (11 Gerty Dr, Champaign, IL 61820). The Bargaining Team will present its initial contract proposal to the UIUC administration. All members are welcome to this meeting.

Bargaining Team meetings are open to all members. The next meeting is on Thursday, March 16, 7:00pm, at the GEO office.

Please contact Natalye Tate and Shawn Fields ( with any questions.

International Students’ Working Group:

Visa and Immigration Leave Survey

Are you an:

  • International Student
  • Domestic Student with immigrant/international dependents
  • DACA student?

Have you had any trouble with your visa, immigration, or DACA paperwork during your time at UIUC?

Then please fill out this survey! Please take by March 20, 2017.

Here is the survey link (If you received an individual link via email, please fill that one out):


This semester the GEO will bargain a new contract with the University. In the contract proposal, GEO is working to address the needs of International and DACA employees on our campus. To bargain effectively, the GEO needs feedback from International, DACA, and Domestic students with international or DACA dependents to gain a better sense of their experiences and priorities at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

The Bargaining Team will be crafting contract language proposals to address visa and immigration issues and they need to hear from you concerning immigration issues such as visa paperwork, delays in DACA renewal, receiving a Social Security Number, and many others.

The GEO does not share the answers you give in this survey outside of card-signed membership. Please contact with any questions.


Grievance Committee:

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


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

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


Stewards’ Council (SC):

The Stewards Council is always looking for new members who want to help organize their departments! We are especially looking for grad workers who would like to be Stewards in the departments of College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and the College of Engineering. Please contact with any questions.

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

Our meetings are open to all GEO members. While each department has its own method for appointing stewards, any GEO member may serve as a steward. Some department have co-Stewards. We welcome all members to join our meetings. The next meeting is on Tuesday, March 28, 5:00pm, at the GEO Office.

Solidarity Committee (Sol Comm):

Sol Comm is committed to working on issues of social justice and supporting them through various means such as financial endorsements, statements of support, and collaborations. To that end, the Solidarity Committee allows the creation of research groups to efficiently strategize around issues of social justice. Groups such as the Environmental Justice Research Group, the Gender Justice Research Group, and the Anti‐Police Brutality Research Group work on these issues and report to the Solidarity Committee. Please contact the Solidarity Co-Chairs Isis Rose, Daniel Gonzalez, and Efad Huq at


The next meeting will be on March 24th at 6:00pm. Please contact SolComm directly for more info.


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. The next meeting is on Thursday, March 23, 7:00pm. Please contact the Co‐President, Shawn Fields, at with any questions.


Communications Committee (Comm Comm):

Our meetings are open to all GEO members. The next meeting is on Wednesday, March 29, 6:00-8:00pm. The agenda includes a Strategic Communications Workshop with Stephanie Fortado, from the School of Labor and Employment Relations. Please contact Maria Garth at if you are interested in attending, or with any questions.



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


Wear you GEO shirt or pin on Wednesday for “Wear it Wednesday”!


“No Mas Bebes/No More Babies” film screening and Q&A with Virginia Espino, film producer
Wed, March 29
Location: 1024 Chem Annex


“Fighting Through the Law: Immigration Lawyers on their Profession and the Current Crisis”
Discussion with alums Daissy Dominguez and Irakere Picon
Thurs, April 6
Location: 1207 W. Oregon, Room 103, Urbana


“Rolando Hinojosa-Smith, Jr. Lecture Series: “Citizenship Trumped: Walls & Sovereignty on the U.S. Mexico Border”
Dr. Miguel Diaz-Barriga & Dr. Margaret Dorsey, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Wed, April12
Location: 319 Gregory Hall


Connect with GEO!

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

Text Updates: 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.




One GEO member’s reasons to fight for tuition waivers

From Alia Bellwood, a PhD student and Teaching Assistant in the Department of Communication and GEO Officer-at-Large, on why she joined her union and fights for tuition waivers.

My youngest brother and I chatted last week about aspiring to teach and study in academia. Behind our conversation, something rang in my ears.

I have an offer from my department which ensures that my good standing and progress will be met with employment in school and tuition waiver for 5 years. I could throw up my hands and say “well, fighting for waivers doesn’t effect me!” But it does.

I want to be able to tell my siblings and niece and nephews that graduate school is feasible for our family. I want to show them that graduate students and their work is valued and respected. We are colleagues not revenue sources. I want to say UIUC was a good place to learn and work.

I can’t do that confidently if I don’t push against the trend of charging and overworking grads. What kind of sister and aunt would I be if I advised them into sinkholes of debt they may never get out of?

I chose to push back. I chose to meaningfully support the labor union GEOmy colleagues and I are lucky to have. I fight for tuition waiver protection, healthcare, a livable wage and decent working conditions because this effects the people I love.

It’s about more than me and my current contract.

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Organizing Training: How to talk to your colleagues about labor

GEO got your back

You might not know a lot about the labor union (GEO) which fights for and represents your interests as employees. But, your colleagues might know even less. How do we start those conversations and make the most out of building a community? How do we make sure we have each other’s back?

Where: English Building Rm 259

THIS Wednesday at 5:30pm

Led by the very experienced and charming Silas (pictured above).

Tuition Waiver Protection Support at Sweetcorn Festival

GEO had an amazing weekend at the Sweetcorn Festival! Thank you to all of the volunteers who helped make it such a success!

More than a dozen new member cards were signed and we engaged with community members  regarding our social justice efforts and collaborations in the future. GEO and community members played bags, asked questions and expressed their concerns about the threat of losing tuition waiver protection at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The most important thing we wanted to communicate was the threat of losing tuition waiver protections for graduate employees. For graduate employees, tuition waivers make our teaching and research at the University possible.

We won these protections in our 2012-2017 contract but must continue to defend that contract and send a clear message to the university that tuition waivers should be major priority. Graduate employees are not the only ones who understand how important tuition waivers are.

Read more about our current legal grievance against the administration for taking away these important parts of graduate student survival (Computer Science dept)

Here is the Facebook photo album!



GEO Members’ Welcome Party!

Are you ready for fall semester 2015?! We are!

We hope to see you at the party!
We hope to see you at the party!

Come on out to the GEO Members’ Welcome Back Party on Friday, September 4th, from 9pm to 1am at Clark Bar in Champaign! There’ll be music and karaoke all night long, plus free snacks and drinks while they last!

Bring a friend or a few and come out to welcome new members and catch up with old friends!


Volunteer this August

August is a very busy month for GEO. We can do everything very well when we do it together!

Here are some things you can get involved with:

* Packing Party on Thursday, August 13th at 5pm. There will be food, conversation and hundreds of folders to prepare for the GEO orientations fast approaching! Let’s get ready together!


* Orientations We know GEO members are friendly. We need YOU to help handout t-shirts, buttons and folders at one (or more!) of the many GEO orientations this month!

You DO NOT need to know a lot about the GEO or our contract. There will be people at each orientation who do. Please sign up!

Members last January at orientations. We need plenty more for August!
Members last January at orientations. We need plenty more for August!

*International Student Working Group Meeting The new International Student Working Group is holding an open meeting. If you are interested in the unique issues facing UIUC international grad students, please join us!

The agenda so far:
1. Organizing the Welcome Back Picnic
2. The GEO Sweet Corn Festival table
3. The International Student and Scholar Services Orientation

Many other issues will be talked about. Become part of the conversation and help us be a better GEO. #WeareGEO

TShirt Design jpeg
Due to the great work of the International Student Working Group thus far — GEO has a new t-shirt design! Get one this year!


G.E.O. Elections

The G.E.O. will be holding New Officer Elections beginning April 21.

New GEO Officers will be elected at the next General Membership Meeting on Mon, Apr 21, at 5:30PM at the University YMCA.  Voting will also be open on Tuesday, April 22, between 10AM and 6PM, and on Wednesday, April 23, between 10AM and 6PM.

All members are eligible to run for an officer position, and to join committees!

Officer Positions, and the Committees They Chair:

  • 2 Co-Presidents:  Lead the union, chair the GEO Coordinating Committee, and supervise staff…

  • Treasurer:  Propose a budget to membership and seek input, keep track of daily funds.

  • Communications Officer & Communications Committee:  Send out emails (like this one!), design t-shirts and posters, work with the press, and so on.

  • Grievance Officer and Grievance Committee:  Protect the contract!  Make sure that TAs and GAs get their tuition waivers, wages, etc, and are protected from discrimination, overwork…

  • Solidarity Officer and Solidarity Committee:  If members vote in support of the Solidarity Amendment, a new Solidarity Officer and Committee will become officially part of the union.  Duties would include working in solidarity with social justice and workers rights organizations.

  • Officers at Large:  Work with different committees, plan events, organize meetings, etc.

If you are interested in running for an officer position, please email

Student Debt Awareness Week

As you may already know, next week is Student Debt Awareness week, endorsed by the GEO. We will be running phonebanking to encourage turnout, particularly for our rally on Friday at noon on the quad. Great turnout at the rally will help us put pressure on representatives at both the state and national level to engage in actual reform to help curtail the student loan debt crisis.

How You Can Help:

1) Flyer your departmental grad mailboxes: If you are willing/able to flyer your departmental mailboxes this week, please reply to this email so we know which departments are covered.

2) Phonebank on Monday or Wednesday: I will be running phonebanking at the GEO office from 4-6pm on Monday and Wednesday. Please stop by and help if you can, even if it’s only for 30 mins. There will be pizza!

3) Share the Facebook event and group pages:
Event Page
Group Page

4) Join us for one or all three of our awesome events!!

The Events:

Tuesday, Nov. 12th at 7:00pm in the Lincoln Hall auditorium:
Panel Discussion with Alan Collinge, student debt reform activist.

Thursday, Nov. 14th at 7:00pm in the Illini Union Pine Lounge:
Screening of the film Default

Friday, Nov. 15th at noon on the Main Quad (Illini Union side):
Rally for student loan justice as we hear from Illinois student speakers.

AGEL Conference

We are pleased to announce that the GEO is hosting this year’s AGEL (Association of Graduate Employee Locals) Conference here in Champaign-Urbana! It will run from Thursday, October 24 through Saturday, October 26. Members of grad locals from across the country will be getting together to strategize, share experiences, network, and participate in workshops and panel discussions.

We will have about 30 grad employees traveling here from other universities. We are working to find hosts for them in order to keep costs down. If you would be interested in housing a visitor, please contact Brook. This would be an amazing way to help with the conference, and a nice opportunity to meet active union members from other universities.

All GEO members are encouraged to participate in all or part of the conference, including meals and the nighttime social activities.