Welcome (and Welcome Back), Upcoming Events, and More!
Table of Contents:
Statement from Co-Presidents
Welcome Back Party
CU Pride March
Health Insurance Opt-Out
JOIN A GEO COMMITTEE!
CONNECT WITH GEO!
WELCOME (AND WELCOME BACK!)
From our Co-Presidents:
Greetings Fellow Graduate Employees!
On behalf of the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO), we welcome you to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The GEO is a democratic, member-run labor union and community social justice organization representing over 2,700 graduate employees who serve as Graduate Assistants (GAs) and Teaching Assistants (TAs). This year, we will be bargaining wages with the administration, a re-opener from the 2018 contract negotiations. We are now experiencing changes in our union operations due to the demands of organizing after the 2018 Janus decision (Janus v. AFSCME, 2018). We may also see RAs and PGAs become legally eligible to unionize, with the passage of HB 253 in both chambers in June 2019. With all of these changes, we are committed to building a stronger union this year and are eager to collaborate with you to make UIUC a better place to work.
Chibundo Egwuatu & Lila Ann Dodge
GEO Game Night:
Come to our GEO Game Night on Thursday, September 12 at 6:30 PM! Feel free to bring your own board games and join several of your fellow union members for a lighthearted reunion event! We'll have decks of cards, checkers, Scrabble, child-friendly toys, and more! Food and (non-alcoholic) drinks will also be provided.
Check out the Facebook event here.
GEO Welcome Back Party:
GEO’s Welcome Back Party will be on Friday, September 20 at the Independent Media Center on 202 S Broadway Ave., Urbana! Doors will open at 8:30. Come and meet your fellow union members, staff, and the union’s leadership; we work best when our connections are strong! There will be free snacks, (alcoholic) drinks, and plenty of music!
Check out the Facebook event here.
First General Membership Meeting:
Our first General Membership Meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 24 at the Channing Murray Foundation. We will have two meeting times to accommodate busy schedules, a lunch meeting from 12-1pm and an evening meeting from 6-7pm. Food and childcare will be provided!
Tabeling at the CU Pride March:
Come join GEO at Champaign-Urbana's Pride Fest and parade, and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising! The festival will be Friday September 27th-Sunday the 29th in the City of Champaign lot, north of One Main Plaza in downtown Champaign. GEO will be tabling from 1:00-7:00pm on Saturday, as well as marching in the Pride Parade at 3:00pm on Saturday. The parade is free and family friendly. The parade theme this year is 'Queer History. Our History,' so come celebrate this rich and powerful history with your union!
Health Insurance Opt-Out
All graduate students are automatically enrolled in the UIUC Student Health Insurance Plan unless you have other health insurance coverage (e.g., through parents or a spouse) and choose to opt out. The open enrollment period ends on Friday September 27th, so you have until that date to opt out of the Student Health Insurance Plan or to add dependents to your plan. If you have chosen to opt out in the past, you have to choose to opt in to the insurance plan.
If you are enrolling a dependent and you are a TA/GA/RA/PGA, you will have 25% of the cost of one dependent reimbursed. First, you have to enroll your dependent in your health insurance plan and pay the full price up front, then 25% of the cost will be reimbursed to your student account after the enrollment period ends, so you should expect to see the reimbursement sometime in October. To access the opt out forms and enrollment forms go to the Student Health Insurance website.
Last year, the GEO began a non-traditional form of campus outreach through intramural basketball, which was a great way to spread awareness of our organization to undergraduates, form connections within our union across departments and colleges, and make space for physical recreation in our lives. This year, we'd love to add more sports to this effort, so if you're interested in participating in any intramural sports, please fill out this form or contact us through email or social media!
Graduate Student Reporting Experiences Study Recruitment
Psychology Ph.D. students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have reached out to GEO to ask if our membership would be interested in participating in an anonymous research study examining graduate students’ experiences reporting sexual harassment. See their original statement below:
Are you a graduate student who experienced sexual harassment or assault while attending your university? Did you report the experience to the university? If so, the Graduate Student Reporting Experiences Study invites you to participate in an anonymous research study.
You can earn $20 for completing an anonymous interview. In the study, we would like to know about:
Your experience with the reporting process
How this process affected your life
The kinds of support you looked for during the process
By participating in this study, you can help us better understand how reporting processes affect graduate students, and how the reporting process can be improved.
To be eligible, you must:
Have enrolled in a graduate program at a Big Ten University
Have experienced sexual harassment or assault while attending the university and reported it to the university office that handles complaints
If you are interested or have questions, please contact the research team:
Call or text (402) 413-5323
JOIN A GEO COMMITTEE!
We are a member-run union; we depend on the commitment of our members to stay as strong as possible. Below you’ll find details about what each committee does and how to contact them. No special knowledge is required to get involved. You can also follow the calendar of events on our website for the date and time of upcoming meetings: http://uiucgeo.org/calendar. Meetings are open to membership, and coming to a meeting does not commit you to joining a committee.
Healthcare Working Group (firstname.lastname@example.org)
We know you have questions about what healthcare options are offered by our current contract, and we remain committed to guaranteed accessible and affordable healthcare for all graduate students. Our Healthcare Working Group (HCWG) is a member-led caucus that works towards informing members and organizing around our healthcare. If you have any questions about your healthcare or are interested in working towards improving it, contact HCWG!
Stewards’ Council (email@example.com)
The Stewards’ Council (SC) is the primary organizing and planning body of GEO. This is where representatives from across campus come together to discuss the needs of our membership. Right now, stewards are doing office visits to sign up new members and planning events for this semester. If you are interested in becoming a Steward, email us for more information.
Upcoming Meeting: Monday, September 23; 6-7:30PM; GEO Office
Finance Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Finance Committee is tasked with accounting, reporting to members on how dues are spent, fundraising, and connecting members to emergency financial support. Email us if you would like to pitch in!
Solidarity Committee (email@example.com)
The Solidarity Committee (SolComm) builds connections between the GEO and other movements and local and global social justice projects through financial endorsements, statements of support, collaborations, and more. SolComm supports several local organizations and movements that work towards economic, racial, gender, disability, prison, and environmental justice. In addition to graduate employees, we welcome undergraduate students and C-U community members to participate. If you are interested in joining the Solidarity Committee, send us an email!
Upcoming Meeting: Wednesday, September 11; 5:30-7PM; GEO Office
Grievance Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Whether it’s late wages, a missing tuition waiver, or retaliation in the workplace, the Grievance Committee helps GEO members take on the UIUC administration. The months after a new 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! If you are interested in joining the Grievance Committee, email us!
Upcoming Meeting: Tuesday, September 10; 2-3PM; GEO Office
Communications Committee (email@example.com)
The Communications Committee produces GEO-Ls and flyers,manages GEO’s social media, responds to interview requests, designs and orders swag, drafts statements regarding local goings-on, and more. They need people with a variety of skills, and they’d love to have you. If you are interested in joining the Communications Committee, email them or come to a meeting!
Upcoming Meeting: Tuesday, September 17; 6-7PM; GEO Office
Coordinating Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Coordinating Committee (CC) is led by the Co-Presidents and made up of elected officers from all committees, though any member may attend meetings. The CC is the executive body of the union and makes decisions about large‐scale projects, financial decisions, and the GEO’s long‐term vision. For questions about the CC, please contact the Co‐Presidents.
Upcoming Meeting: Monday, September 16; 4-5:30PM; GEO Office
RA/PGA Working Group (email@example.com)
In 2019 the Illinois state legislature passed HB253, reclassifying Research and Pre-Professional Graduate Assistants as "employees" rather than "students." Governor Pritzker is expected to sign the bill into law with an effective date of 1/1/2020. Having "employee" status doesn't change anything immediately, but opens the door to graduate employees in these categories having a union. The RA/PGA Unionization Working Group is researching paths to unionization, planning organizing these groups of employees, and answering questions and disseminating information to general membership. If you are interested in working around these issues, please contact us!
CONNECT WITH GEO!
Have comments about the GMM? Other kinds of feedback for us? We want to hear it! Reply to this email or use our anonymous google form. You can also get in touch through our website and social media:
Graduate Employees’ Organization
809 S. 5th St., Geneva Room
Champaign, IL 61820