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

News and GEO-L

Member Communications

Updates from The GEO


***July 16, 2018***

Table of Contents:

  • GEO & Janus: The Game Has Changed

  • Appointment Letters Reminder

  • GEO Library Survey

  • GEO Needs a Communications Officer

  • Meet GEO’s new Admin Assistant

  • Get Involved in GEO Committees & Other Ongoing Projects

  • Connect with GEO!



What the Janus Decision Means for Us

Janus vs. AFSCME is a recent supreme court decision that can dramatically change how public sector unions organize and operate (here is a six point summary if you don’t want to read the whole decision). While you may have heard that this case was about free speech, this case is really the climax of years long campaigns to overturn 40+ years of legal precedent represented by the decision in Abood vs. Detroit Board of Education. If this is the first you’ve heard of the case, you can start by reading our FAQ (made pre-decision), this brief piece by UIUC’s own professor Dan Gilbert, or listening to this excellent Amicus podcast.

Now that collection of “fair-share fees” has been deemed unconstitutional, it changes how the GEO can operate. The effect of this decision for us is that some graduate workers may become free-riders: employees represented by GEO in the bargaining unit who do not pay a fair share of the cost of representation (particularly in collective bargaining and contract enforcement). Right now our goal is to encourage more graduate employees to become members and get involved so that we can remain strong as a union, continue to improve our working conditions, and enforce the contract we have just won. 

How Unions Benefit Us & What Dues Have to Do With It

Unions have consistently improved the lives of workers across the board in the United States. Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show that workers represented by unions enjoy better compensation, in terms of wages, health care and many other benefits (see this short video here for a summary). Very importantly, unions provide a platform to ensure fair treatment of workers from historically marginalized groups, for example, people of color, women, & LGBTQ folks. In this way, what unions end up doing is reduce inequality (for more, see here and here)!

It takes resources to do this work to restructure systems to be fair and equitable. A union’s financial resources come from dues paid by its members, and (before the Janus decision) fair share fees paid by those who are represented, but not members. Our own union, GEO, has been working for years to ensure that graduate education is accessible for all. Losing fair share fees from represented members of our bargaining unit makes it more challenging for us to carry out our day to day operations (renting an office space, having paid staff, etc.), but also reduces our resources for enforcing our new contract (for example: legal fees for grievance procedures) or successfully bargaining a strong contract in future cycles (for example: organising direct actions such as rallies, marches, and strikes). For a good summary, please take a look at this infographic we put together. This is why we need as many as possible of those we represent to become members: so we can organise effective campaigns (even outside of collective bargaining), and so we can have as many voices as possible guiding our leadership. Every member counts. As we move into the Fall semester, talk to your peers and coworkers about the GEO, and together we can keep the union strong. 

The Forces Behind Janus & What You Should Look Out For

The “Right To Work” movement is a legal and political strategy with a long and racist history, financed by wealthy anti-union individuals and organizations. In fact, Janus is not even the first case of this kind, with many parallels between the Janus case and previous attempts to overturn the Abood decision.In particular, the CEO of one such organization, the State Policy Network said the following in internal documents published by the Guardian: “To win the battle for freedom, we must take the fight to the unions, state by state...The target of such union-bashing, she openly admits, is to “defund and defang one of our freedom movement’s most powerful opponents, the government unions”.

In the coming months, you can expect targeted messaging encouraging you to opt out of your membership. It is important to see through these campaigns as the blatant attempts to weaken our union that they are.


As the strike demonstrated last spring, we have the collective power to make change. But we will need to  stay organized, so we are in a strong negotiating position as we continue to improve our working conditions. 



The GEO contract states that all “TAs and GAs shall be notified of their appointment title, the major components of their assignments, wages amount, dates (duration) of service (including any mandatory or optional orientation sessions), the supervising official in the department, and the full time equivalency (FTE) of the appointment as soon as practicable, preferably at least thirty (30) days before the start of the Fall or Spring appointment.”

Many Fall appointments start in mid-August to account for orientation and prep work before the semester courses begin, meaning that on-time letters should come in mid-July or earlier. If you receive a late appointment letter please contact



The GEO is considering creating a union library for its members in the GEO office and we want your input in shaping the library and its resources! UIUC has the largest public university library system in the United States and has over 14 million physical items and 24 million items in other formats in its collection. Are we utilizing that resource to the best of our ability? What sort of labor specific materials are available?  How could we support our members and committees in house by making labor specific materials accessible in the office? Please take our survey to help develop a GEO library:

The survey will remain open until the end of summer.



Interested in helping GEO with its communication to membership and media? Consider running for GEO’s Communication Officer position for the 2018-2019 term! Both our recently elected officers have had to step down due to unforeseen circumstances, and the GEO is now looking for interested members to chair the Communications Committee. This role can be a single officer, or shared as co-chairs of the Committee. The responsibilities of the Communication Officer include chairing the Communications Committee and serving as a point person for a variety of projects such as sending newsletters and press releases, facilitating press interviews and media contacts, ordering GEO swag, coordinating social media presence, and representing Communications on the Coordinating Committee.

The work of the Communications Committee is highly collaborative, drawing on members from a wide variety of areas and skill sets. As Communications Officer, your task would be to recruit and coordinate members to manage communications and help connect membership interest with communications projects (see the Communications Committee description below for some of those projects). If you are interested in the position, please email us at




Hi GEO Community,

My name is Marielle Ogle and I'm the new Admin Assistant. I come to you with nearly 5 years of experience in the labor world and am excited to be a part of the union on campus. A little about me: I graduated from UIUC in 2010 with a B.S. in Communications, I love to try new restaurants and enjoy movies/series… like a lot :) I am currently a grad student in the business school. I look forward to meeting you all and hope we can chat soon!! 



We are a member led union!
GEO Committees have work to do over the summer, and need your help! If you’d be interested in getting involved, below you’ll find details about how to contact each Committee and a little more about what they do! You can follow the calendar of events on our website for the date and time of upcoming meetings: Meetings are open to membership. No special knowledge required.

Communications Committee

The Communications Committee produces GEO-Ls and flyers, manages GEO’s social media, responds to interview requests, designs and orders swag, and more! We could use people with all varieties of skill sets, so don’t be afraid if you’re not a writer or graphic designer — we’d love to have you! You can help with writing and editing GEO-Ls, managing our social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook), being our media liaison, and archiving our history. Right now, we are focusing on specific summer projects such as preparing orientation packets and designing and ordering swag. Our next meeting will be a work session this coming week, make sure to check the calendar for up to date information! If you are interested in joining the Communications Committee, email or just come to a meeting!

Grievance Committee

The months after a contract is signed are the busiest time for the Grievance Committee. They are working hard defending members who are already experiencing violations of the new contract. As one of our smallest committees, they could use your help doing this essential work! Our next meeting is this coming week, make sure to check the calendar for up to date information! If you are interested in joining the Grievance Committee, email

Stewards’ Council

The Stewards’ Council (SC) is the primary organizing and planning body, and “heart” of GEO. This is where representatives from across campus come together to discuss membership needs. Right now, stewards are working on preparing for orientation for new grads, planning office visits and organizing trainings, and beginning-of-year events. Become a steward and help GEO organize across campus! Our next meeting is on Tuesday July 17th at 5:30 pm in the GEO Office (809 S. 5th St, Champaign). Also, if you are interested in learning the basics of organizing, come to our stewards’ retreat on Saturday, July 21, from 11 am to 3 pm at the GEO Office. If you are interested in becoming a Steward and/or attending the retreat, email!

Solidarity Committee

The Solidarity Committee performs crucial outreach both within and outside of the labor community. SolComm is an important committee within GEO, especially post-Janus and could use some more members! Over the summer, SolComm is working on various summer community events and statements of solidarity. If you are interested in joining the Solidarity Committee, please email

NEW Constitutional Committee

Join the newly formed Constitutional Committee to work on updating our Constitution and By-Laws! Interested in structure and community values? Like clarifying procedures and logistics? Just want to know more about GEO? The Constitutional Committee needs members who are interested in developing a proposal to present to our general membership in the fall for review and ratification. Contact if you’re interested in getting involved!

NEW Finance Committee

The newly formed Finance Committee is tasked with accounting, reporting to members on how dues are spent, fundraising, and connecting members to emergency financial support provided in the community. Email if you would like to contribute!




Twitter: @geo_uiuc

Facebook: @uigeo  @geosolcomm

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In Solidarity,

Graduate Employees’ Organization

809 S. 5th St., Geneva Room

Champaign, IL 61820

Phone: 217-344-8283


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