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

News and GEO-L

Member Communications

Tuition Waivers Under Attack and Strike Date Announcement


***February 7, 2018 -- 176 days since our contract expired on August 15th***

Table of Contents:

  • 23rd Bargaining Session Recap

  • Strike Date Announcement

  • General Membership Meeting


23rd Bargaining Session Recap

Thank you to the members who turned out this morning AND this evening to demonstrate our power! The morning’s rally was fantastic, and everyone who turned out on short notice to rally again at 7:00pm was inspiring. It truly paints a picture of what we can accomplish when we come together.

At this session, the administration revealed their plans to terminate full tuition waiver protections and bust our Union. The administration argues that our tuition waivers are a permissive subject of bargaining, meaning that we legally cannot strike over it. Our position is that, as compensation, tuition waivers are a mandatory subject of bargaining and legal to strike over, a position also upheld by two legally-binding arbitration decisions. 

The administration wants to make it so that they can redesignate any program to be self-supporting, which means that both current and incoming graduate students could lose access to tuition waiver generating appointments, even if they do the work of a TA or GA. If members don’t have tuition waivers, they won’t be able to attend school here. 

As tuition waiver generating appointments disappear from many departments, we will be forced to compete over the limited number of waiver-generating positions in the small number of departments that offer them. Not only will this make graduate education unaffordable, but it means that fewer graduate employees will be legally protected by GEO’s contract. This will decimate individual graduate programs. Departments will only be able to recruit those who can afford to pay tuition rather than seeking out the best students. With fewer graduate students on campus and fewer positions covered by the contract, GEO will go extinct.

The administration is claiming that the GEO is attempting to prevent them from creating new programs. We recognize that the administration has the right to create new programs. However, as long as a graduate employee performs bargaining unit work, then that graduate employee MUST be paid their full compensation under the terms of our contract, including a tuition waiver.

We’re no longer just fighting for fair compensation and working conditions: we’re fighting for the life of our Union, the ability to attend graduate school, the strength of our departments, and the future of higher education. 

Here is a link to the university administration’s proposal from the bargaining session today. We are seeking the same tuition waiver side letter language as our last contract, which can be found at


GEO Announces Strike Date to the University Administration

In response to these threats, we are announcing our strike date of Monday, February 26, 2018. If they have not made significant movement to protect our tuition waivers, ensure economic stability, and preserve our Union by 8:00 am on that day, picketing will begin.

Our team stayed and bargained with the administration for 15 hours. We will do everything in our power to avoid a strike, but as the administration saw today, we are prepared to strike if we have to.

On our website, we have resources to help inform and answer questions about a strike. Our FAQ includes information on how to talk to faculty and students about the strike, information about retaliation (which is illegal), and a link to our detailed Strike Manual. If you have other questions, talk to your steward or email us at!


What Comes Next:

Join us in fighting for a fair contract!

General Membership Meeting

Our next GMM will be Thursday, February 8, at 6:30pm in the Channing Murray Foundation (1209 W Oregon St, Urbana). With our Union under threat, it’s important to come together and prepare for a strike that wins us a contract! Food and childcare provided.

Commitment and Accountability is how we win!



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In Solidarity,

Graduate Employees’ Organization

809 S. 5th St., Geneva Room

Champaign, IL 61820

Phone: 217-344-8283


This is a newsletter for members about our recent news and events. The Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO), IFT/AFT local 6300, AFL-CIO, is a member-run labor union and represents Teaching and Graduate Assistants (TAs and GAs) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

GEO-LThomas DayGEO-L