Smile Politely

GEO votes to ratify tentative contract agreement

From a press release issued today:

URBANA-CHAMPAIGN (November 23) – The members of the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO), American Federation of Teachers/Illinois Federation of Teachers Local 6300, AFL-CIO, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), have voted to ratify the tentative contract agreement reached between the GEO and University of Illinois (UI) Board of Trustees bargaining teams in Urbana on November 17. With the ratification, GEO members have also officially voted to end the GEO strike against the UI Board of Trustees that began on November 16. The contract will now be forwarded to the Board of Trustees for their signatures.

The GEO’s tentative agreement achieved gains across all four “pillars” of its original contract platform as presented to the UIUC administration at the beginning of bargaining on April 21st. In addition to winning protection for tuition waivers through the strike, the GEO secured an additional two weeks of unpaid parental leave, increases to the University’s contribution to health care premiums (reaching 75% in the third and final year of the contract), and raises on the minimum salary, totaling ten percent over three years. The GEO also succeeded in removing several regressive proposals from the new contract, including furloughs, “in-kind” payment, a recision of grievances related to discrimination, and a “scope of the agreement” clause that would have prevented the GEO from re-opening bargaining in the event of a change to employment conditions for graduate employees at UIUC.

GEO members have been back at work since Tuesday evening, and the GEO looks forward to continuing to work with the UIUC administration toward the goal of making the University of Illinois a truly accessible institution of public education consistent with the U of I’s mission as a land grant university.

While the GEO’s current contract negotiations are over, GEO members will continue to use their organizational strength to work for labor rights and higher education that is accessible to all regardless of economic standing. The GEO stands in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the University of California system, who have just completed a three day strike over drastic and unprecedented tuition increases. The GEO also stands in solidarity with our sisters and brothers at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) as they continue contract negotiations with the UI Board of Trustees, and with other union locals on the UIUC campus who will shortly begin their own contract negotiations.

The tentative agreement between the GEO and Board of Trustees bargaining teams represents a major victory for labor in the state of Illinois and the United States. The timing of the GEO victory was especially sweet given that it fell during the “Education is NOT for $A£€!” Global Week of Action, which was organized from Germany and included demonstrations and teach-ins across Europe, in Africa, and in the United States in support of public higher education. The GEO stands with higher education labor unions across the nation opposing the ongoing corporatization and privatization of our public higher education system.

The GEO is a labor union representing all teaching and graduate assistants (TAs and GAs) on the UIUC campus. With over 2600 GEO members, and over 2600 graduate employees represented in the bargaining unit, the GEO is one of the largest higher education union locals in the United States. The GEO strike was the first strike by a recognized union local at UIUC in over 10 years, and the first open-ended strike at UIUC in over thirty years. Over 1,000 GEO members participated in the strike.

Here’s the UI’s release on this agreement from last Tuesday.

Look forward to an op-ed from the GEO tomorrow morning in Smile Politely.

Related Articles