Information about the Tentative Agreement
***March 9, 2018 -- 207 days since our contract expired on August 15th***
Now that many members have gotten to hear about and see the Tentative Agreement at yesterday’s General Membership Meeting, we wanted to share some of the highlights with you here.
First, the thing you’re probably most concerned about, tuition waivers:
Tuition waivers have been moved from a side letter to a new article in the main body of the contract. This prevents the administration from trying to declare the tuition waiver language as "expired" as they did this bargaining cycle. The article can be reopened and re-bargained in future cycles. While the language protecting tuition waivers has been changed, the new language clearly and explicitly guarantees tuition waivers for all Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants with appointments between 25% and 67% full time equivalent. At the meeting yesterday, Bargaining Team members stated that this language likely would have resulted in the same arbitration victories as the side letter. The language also reiterates that the University Senate, not the Provost, is able to designate programs, as they always have in the past. In the event that a program is redesignated with due process, graduate employees would continue to receive the tuition waivers, as part of their appointment, as long as they remain students in the program that they were admitted into initially and are in good academic standing. Future students would be governed by the new policy in place at the time of their enrollment.
All wage increases were secured as retroactive wages. Since this is Year 1 of the contract, you will receive back pay for the past six month’s worth of raises. Raises to the minimum were secured for years 2 and 3 of the contract, while the re-appointment raises will be determined by the campus wage program. During year three, the GEO can reopen the wages for negotiations, and these negotiations will define raises for years 4 and 5. This is a victory for GEO because it allows us to organize, and even strike, in Years 4 and 5 over wages. If we do not opt to reopen negotiations, we will default to the campus wage program for both minimums and reappointments in Years 4 & 5. Our bargaining team took into account what they were hearing from members, which was to prioritize getting raises to our lowest-paid members first. Thus, wage increases for the people making the campus minimum are guaranteed, while reappointments will be subject to campus wage program raises in Years 2 & 3. The floor for wage increases under the campus wage program is 0%.
Y1: $17,097 (4.5%, retroactive)
Y2: $17,439 (2%)
Y3: $17,788 (2%)
Y1: 2.5% (retroactive)
Y2 & Y3: Campus Wage Program
Healthcare and Dependent Coverage:
The Administration agreed to pay 87% of the health care premium, up from 80%, for Fall and Spring semesters. Our bargaining team fought long and hard to get summer health insurance coverage, but ultimately the Administration was only willing to cover a higher percentage of semester coverage. For those with dependants, the Administration will now cover 25% of the premium for one dependent (up from 0). The Administration was unwilling to include baseline standards for insurance coverage in a contract with an employee union.
Previously, appointment letters were required 60 days in advance. However, over 90% of appointment letters came late, and we had no mechanism to hold the administration accountable. Starting in the Spring of 2019, assistants who do not receive their notice of appointment 30 days in advance can request to receive $50 in compensation, unless the appointment is for a new course section on short notice. The cumulative financial penalty for late appointment notices should ensure members are notified in a timely manner.
Making up work:
Prior to the strike, Academic HR emailed a form for self-reporting. You should not fill out this form. As part of the Tentative Agreement to resolve the strike, the Bargaining Team has negotiated for graduate employees to be able to make up lost time. You must discuss how lost time will be made up with your immediate supervisor. This may be made up through changes to the course, extra office hours, or other means. Time must be made up by March 30.
Time not made up by March 30 should be reported using a different form that will be provided by the university. Even if your department is supportive, you may wish to consider reporting as this could be used to protect against possible retaliation in the future. It easier to prove that retaliation is occurring if there is a paper trail showing you were on strike. Retaliation is illegal under U.S. law, regardless of citizenship status.
If your immediate supervisor is not supportive or refuses to accommodate makeup work, contact the Grievance Committee at email@example.com as soon as possible.
If it is not possible to make up work because a scab did it in your place, this still counts as missed work. Once you receive a check with the lost wages, please contact the GEO and we will do our best to compensate you.
Opportunities for reading and voting on the Tentative Agreement:
Thank you to all members who came out to vote yesterday on the Tentative Agreement at the IMC in Urbana. If you were not able to vote yesterday please come to our second GMM tonight at 4pm at the IMC (202 S Broadway, Urbana, Illinois 61801) to be briefed on the Tentative Agreement, ask questions, and vote!
You can also read and vote on the Tentative Agreement until 9pm at the GEO Office in the McKinley Foundation in the Geneva Room (809 S 5th Street, Champaign, Illinois 61820).
Why can’t I vote online?
Many members have asked why we have not created online voting for ratifying the contract. We need to conduct this vote in a timely and secure manner. We need to know by early tomorrow if the membership has approved this contract because, if not, we would have to go back on strike on Monday. Because we lack the necessary time and resources, we are not confident that we could setup a secure system to view the Tentative Agreement and vote on it. We would rather conduct a secure offline vote than an improper online one.
In the interests of a speedy and secure vote, we have opted for in-person voting only at our General Membership Meetings (GMM) and in the GEO office (see above).
This Tentative Agreement is a direct result of our collective efforts and our powerful strike. If you are unable to vote right now because of the lack of an online vote, please put your trust in your colleagues here who are able to vote in person. We must believe in each other and stay united to fight bigger battles ahead of us
Remember: Until all votes are counted, we are still on strike. Pickets are currently suspended, but please continue to withhold your labor until you hear from GEO about the results of the vote. Once the votes are counted, we will send out a GEO-L with the results.
Graduate Employees’ Organization
809 S. 5th St., Geneva Room
Champaign, IL 61820
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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.