GEO Local 6300 IFT/AFT AFL-CIO at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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About The GEO

Passion. Experience. Diligence.


The GEO works to find common ground among all graduate employees, regardless of race, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation, citizenship status, department, job category, or membership in the union. Membership in the GEO is, and will remain, voluntary.
The GEO strives to be inclusive and open to all graduate employees, operate along democratic principles, act always in the best interests of graduate employees, and act responsibly toward the entire university community.

What We Work for as a Union

By bargaining with the university administration in good faith, toward mutually agreeable improvements to employment policies and benefits for graduate employees, we hope to achieve the following:

  • Grievance Procedure: GEO seeks a written and widely publicized procedure for resolution of employment problems. The procedure should be multi-step, protect employees from retaliation, give employees the option of union representation, and include the right to appeal to a neutral arbitrator to make binding decisions.

  • Workload: the GEO and the university administration should cooperate in addressing the problem of unreasonable workloads in certain departments and move toward greater consistency of workloads across departments. Unpaid job duties should be phased out. However, the union will not seek to limit the right of graduate employees to choose for themselves the time and manner of their work, only to rectify problems of overwork identified by graduate employees.

  • Health Care: The University should waive the student health insurance plan and McKinley fees for graduate employees. The GEO and the University should work together to improve health care so that it more closely serves the needs of the graduate employee population, and includes such things as a choice of plans and affordable plans for spouses, dependents and domestic partners.

  • International Employees: The GEO will work for policies that address the specific employment concerns of international graduate employees. The union and the university administration should work together to find creative responses to rules that limit international students to 50% appointments and therefore makes pay increases difficult or limit the types of appointments non-citizens can take.

  • Stipends: The University should continue improving the stipends of all graduate employees both by increasing the minimum stipend and providing regular cost of living raises. No employee or category of employees should receive a pay cut or freeze in order to fund pay increases for others. The union will not seek pay caps or limits on departments’ ability to offer higher salaries.

  • A Good Work Environment for All: Recognizing that a work environment free from hostility and discrimination is a necessary prerequisite for improving the quality of education and research at the UI, the GEO will work to strengthen and enforce university policies against discrimination and sexual harassment.

  • Tuition Waivers: The University should restore full tuition waivers for all graduate employees regardless of program status. Employees with less than 25% FTE appointments should receive partial waivers. Graduate hourly employees whose work exceeds 10 hours a week on average should receive a full waiver.

  • Paid Training: Graduate employees new to an assistantship should receive paid job training. If a graduate employee’s job description includes work in hazardous settings (which include, e.g., exposure to chemical, radiation, or biological hazards), the employee should be paid to attend formal safety training programs.

  • Family Issues: The GEO is committed to making affordable child care a goal of the University and supports University subsidized child care for all employees. The GEO and the University administration should work together to establish a feasible child care plan for graduate employees with children.

  • Workplace Safety: The University will observe all applicable laws and regulations regarding workplace safety. No employee should be forced to work under conditions that violate safety laws. GEO representatives should serve on all University and Departmental committees on workplace safety.

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Eleven-day strike wins tuition waiver protection, better health care, raises in the fifth contract (2017-2022) with a reopener clause that allows strike over wages in 2020


Bargaining which resulted in the fourth contract (2012-2017)

Fall 2010

Contract violated by reduction of tuition waivers in 5 FAA departments

November 2009

Two-day strike wins tuition waiver protection in third contract (2009-2012)

February 2009

Second attempt to reduce tuition waivers

Spring 2007

Second contract (2006-2009) ratified

August 2004

First three-year contract (2003-2006) ratified by membership

December 2002

Second union election

April 2002

Bargaining unit defined as TAs and GAs; three-day strike averted

March 2002

Occupation of the Swanlund Administration Building results in March 13th agreement of the administration to discuss the scope of the bargaining unit

November 2001

Two-day work stoppage over suppression of right to vote in union election

June-Oct. 2000

Legal recognition of graduate employees' right to organize

March 1999

Student referendum supports graduate employees' right to organize 20-hour sit-in at the Board of Trustees office

April 1998

Work-in at Henry Admin Building in support of unionization

Spring 1997

First union election

April 1996

Petition filed for a union election

Winter 1995

First attempt to reduce tuition waivers

Spring 1995

Affiliation with IFT/AFT