Know Your Rights
As the member of a union, you have Weingarten Rights under the 1975 Supreme Court decision which declared that unionized employees have the right to have a steward or union representative present during an investigatory meeting with management when the employee believes the meeting might lead to disciplinary action being taken against them. You can use the below text to invoke your Weingarten Right.
“If the discussion in this meeting could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated or impact on my personal working conditions, I request that my steward, local officer or union representative be present. Until my union representative is present, I respectfully choose not to participate. This is my right under a Supreme Court decision called Weingarten.”
Contact your departmental steward or email firstname.lastname@example.org with information about the meeting you would like them to attend.
What is grievance?
A contract is only as good as its enforcement. Grievance is the process by which the employer is held accountable to the terms of the contract. The Grievance Officer of the union (with the help of the Grievance Committee) will meet with university officials to discuss what happened. If they cannot reach an informal resolution, paperwork will be filed by the union to address the issue at a higher level. If the union and employer cannot reach an agreement, the case can eventually proceed to legal arbitration.
Who can grieve?
Everyone covered by the contract: Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants. TAs in some departments are excluded in their first semester of teaching; see the contract for more information. If in doubt, contact the Grievance Committee.
How to grieve
A grievance must be filed within 20 business days of the grievance occurring. Email the Grievance Committee at email@example.com if you believe a contract violation has occurred so that they can begin the process.
L0: Meet informally with immediate supervisor
L1 - Executive Officer (e.g., department chair)
L2 - Dean of the College
L3 - Associate Provost
Common Issues Covered by our Contract
Covered by GEO Contract
Teaching Assistants (TAs)
Involved with instruction
Lead lab/discussion groups for a course
Develop instructional materials
Accompany/coach music performances
Hold office hours
Graduate Assistants (GAs)
Anyone not a TA/RA/PGA
Support administrative functions, such as:
Clerical work (e.g. copies, emails)
Tech/support services (websites, newsletters, equipment, etc.)
Outreach and events
Not Covered by GEO Contract
Research Assistants (RAs)
Apply “research concepts, practices, or methods of scholarship”
Organize/ analyze data
Publish findings (or collaborate with faculty)
Preprofessional Graduate Assistants (PGAs)
Primarily “gain experience, practice, or guidance” toward a career
Only applies to certain appointments in certain departments: GSLIS, Social Work, Psychology, Educational Psychology, Community Health, Nutritional Sciences, Medical Scholars, Speech and Hearing Sciences, Special Education, Kinesiology, Leisure Studies, Theatre, Music Dance, Law, Architecture, Journalism, Educational Organization or Educational Policy Studies
Late appointment letter
There is a deadline for when you should receive your appointment letter! It is 30 Days before the start of the Fall or Spring appointment. If you do not receive your appointment letter by this time, you may be entitled to $50 in recompense. Contact the Grievance Committee, who will file a request for explanation with Academic Human Resources on your behalf.
Instances of discrimination and harassment can be grieved! If you experience discrimination in your workplace or in the course of your work duties, document the event and contact the Grievance Committee (within 20 days).
The following are protected categories under our contract:
Race, ethnicity, and color
Order of protection status
Marital status or status as member of a civil union
Gender identity and expression
Citizenship or immigration status
Arrest record status
Unfavorable discharge from the military
Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants with a 25% - 67% full-time equivalent (FTE) appointment receive a tuition waiver. Your tuition waiver is governed by the policy in effect at the time of your enrollment, and should be clearly outlined in your offer of admission.
Short period of time: First contact your supervisor to request accommodations for your schedule or to find another TA/GA to cover for you. You can also contact your department’s HR office with the same request. If your request cannot be accommodated, you may not get paid for the missed time.
Long period of time: If you are not able to return to the US, the University will try to find another tuition waiver-generating appointment when you return. This is dependent on availability and qualifications.
You may not be compensated for unfulfilled work
The university may not be able to hold the position for the employee
Keep records of all communications. If you believe that the university has failed to adequately try to accommodate your immigration or visa leave request, contact the Grievance Committee.
Your appointment percentage determines how many hours per week you are expected to work on average (50% = 20 hours, 25% = 10 hours, etc.). The contract attempts to recognize that academic work can have heavier and lighter weeks, HOWEVER if you are being consistently overworked this is grievable. To grieve overwork you have to raise the issue within 5 calendar days of when you realize that you are being overworked. This issue doesn’t pass through the typical grievance process, but GEO can walk you through it. Remedies for overwork include: increasing your appointment percentage (so you get paid for the extra work), hiring someone else to do some of the work, or reassigning you to a different position.
Track your hours in a spreadsheet
All of your work counts towards your hours: required orientations/trainings, time in class, time in meetings, prepping for class, grading, answering emails, etc.
Leave — Duration — Eligibility
Sick Leave — 13 days/year — 12 mo. appointment OR 6.5 days/semester — semester appointment
Paid Vacation — 24 days/year — 12 mo. appointment ONLY
Bereavement Leave — 3 days following death — Everyone
Jury Duty — Duration of duty — Everyone
Military Duty — Duration of duty — Military personnel
Parental Accommodation — 6 weeks (2 paid) — Everyone
Worker’s Compensation — Duration of recovery — Everyone
Holidays — Duration of Holiday — Everyone
You have access to the McKinley Health Center and the Counseling Center. The university covers 100% of student Health Service fee, and 87% of Student Health Insurance Fee (as of the 2017 contract). The university will also pay 25% of the health insurance premium for one dependent; add dependents through your account at www.uhcsr.com/illinois. If you should have received a Health Service fee waiver or insurance coverage but didn’t, contact Grievance Committee!
Health insurance provider: United Healthcare Student Resources
Dental insurance provider: Delta Dental
Vision insurance provider: EyeMed Vision Care
health and safety
“Assistants shall report any unhealthy or hazardous work condition. The University shall consult with the appropriate unit of the Division of Environmental Health and Safety to review the situation, determine whether the work environment is hazardous, and if so, attempt to resolve the matter. Health and Safety issues may be raised and discussed during labor management meetings provided there is not an active grievance on the matter.“
If you believe that your working conditions are unsafe, first report it to your manager or HR. If they fail to address the problem, report it to the Grievance Committee.
Rights of Employees Not in a Union
Protections for Concerted Activity
A “Concerted Activity” is “the lawful act of employees acting together.” (Section 7 of National Labor Relations Act) The activity must be concerted (two or more people) and for the benefit of workers. In other words, employees have a right to work together for the benefit of all those in their workplace, whether or not they form a union!
Employees have a right to…
Be paid according to the law for their work
Have a safe and healthy working environment
Be compensated for medical bills and lost work time incurred from workplace injuries and disease
Work in an environment free from discrimination in hiring, firing or discipline
Organize a union or work together for change
Exercise their rights under the law and report violations without retaliation
Testify on behalf of other workers who are exercising their workplace rights