IMPORTANT: Bargaining Update, Response to Admin’s Email, and Pre-strike Information
***February 23, 2018 -- 193 days since our contract expired on August 15th***
Table of Contents:
GEO Response to Administration message to TAs and GAs
Sunday Pre-Strike Rally
Remember, you have a legal right to strike without retaliation. If your department, supervisor, or any faculty or staff attempt to intimidate, coerce, or otherwise influence your decision to strike, this is a violation of your legal rights under the Illinois Labor Education Relations Act. Please report any such violations to email@example.com. We will always have your back.
This is a long one--but it’s important. Read the whole thing!
Thank you everyone for your organizing work this week! Everyone who committed to our strike, signed up for picket shifts, did office visits, and continued to show their support and solidarity have put us in a great position to be prepared for a powerful strike and win a great contract for our membership!
The Administration’s proposal given today, while making some movement in wages and healthcare, does not offer us the tuition waiver protections we need, and would fundamentally redefine the meaning of graduate labor on this campus. The Administration is attempting to limit access to education by restricting who is able to obtain tuition waivers as part of their compensation for graduate work.
The Administration continues to attempt to use the Campus Wage Program to determine graduate employee salaries. The GEO asked for an explanation of the program and documentation on how the Administration puts together its budget. The Administration would not provide any documentation for how its budget is constructed and told the GEO that, under the Campus Wage Program, the President and three Chancellors (one for each campus) have unilateral power to decide the pay rates for employees across the UI system. The Campus Wage Program lacks any transparency and constitutes an illegal failure to bargain wages, a mandatory subject of bargaining, and we filed an unfair labor practice about this over a month ago. Today, we filed a Freedom of Information Act request for all emails and meeting notes between the President and Chancellors related to the Campus Wage Program.
GEO Response to Administration Message to TAs and GAs
Today, just as in 2009 and 2012, the Administration HR sent out an email to TAs and GAs attempting to frighten our members from striking by discussing their self-reporting policy. Some things to keep in mind about this scare tactic:
Regarding the need to self-report: Union members are protected from retaliation for striking. Completing this form means that you have documented evidence that your absence from teaching was due to your protected right to strike and withhold labor, but it also opens the door for the Administration’s HR to withhold your pay. No one can force you to sign this form, but it can help the GEO protect you from retaliatory action.
This form is filled out after the strike is over. This is not something you would need to complete during a strike.
The form is to be submitted to a supervisor or chair, not to the Administration directly. Many colleges, departments, and programs have voiced their support and pledged not to report striking workers.You should speak to your advisor and supportive staff members and let them know about this scare tactic. One potential option is to submit it to your supervisor but ask them not to forward it to HR, so you’re on record as having participated in the strike.
The GEO has prepared for potential payment stoppages, and has a strike fund, an emergency welfare fund, IFT/AFT zero interest loans and food bank locations on and close to campus. We also have a national and international network of thousands of union members and organizations that have pledged to stand with us and are ready to step up in case of emergency. If you are worried about financial concerns, please contact our co-presidents at firstname.lastname@example.org or your stewards. Your concerns and questions will be kept strictly confidential: we are here to help. If you want additional help budgeting for a strike please feel free to contact our IFT representative Jon Nadler at JNadler@ift-aft.org.
When we finalize the contract, we will work with the Administration’s bargaining team to decide if/how missed work will be made up and how many days of absence will be counted and docked. We as a union will then vote on this resolution, and will do everything in our power to lighten any potential financial blow.
This is an intimidation tactic. This means the university recognizes our strike threat is powerful enough to win. The best thing we can do to preserve our long term financial stability is to stand together, walk the picket lines, and win a good contract. As long as we stay united, the gains we make will far outweigh any potential lost pay.
Sign Up for Picket Shifts!
Unless we are able to reach a settlement with the administration this weekend, we will be going out on strike Monday, February 26th. In order to win this strike, secure our financial stability and tuition waivers, and make sure that education at UIUC is affordable and accessible for all, we need to do two things: withhold our labor, and demonstrate our strength with strong, packed picket lines.
You can sign up for picket shifts online here. We’re asking members to sign up for at least as many hours as your appointment--since you’re not working, you should consider picketing your full-time job. After you sign up, a picket captain will be in touch to confirm with you and let you know what building to show up to.
Let’s have massive picket lines so that we can fight to make this campus a great place to work and learn. Let’s win this thing.
Sunday Pre-Strike Rally
Our last event before the strike is going to be a rally on Sunday, February 25, at 5pm outside the Fire Services Institute (11 Gerty Dr, Champaign). During the rally, we will have speakers on with up-to-date information on bargaining, picketing logistics and strike support. We have prepared for our Union to go on strike until we win a fair contract, and we need to come together to get it done! More information on our Facebook event.
CONNECT WITH GEO!
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.
Graduate Employees’ Organization
809 S. 5th St., Geneva Room
Champaign, IL 61820
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.