Hello Family,

It is with a heavy heart that I write to you today. Early yesterday morning the LGBTQ community suffered a great tragedy when a terrorist invaded one of the few safe spaces for LGBTQ individuals and enacted a mass murder of 50 people. People like me. As a queer individual I have used bars and clubs similar to Pulse to find a safe space and to be with my community. And it was this community that was attacked yesterday.

GEO is a special family in that we are made up of so many unique groups of people from around the country and world; GEO is a global family. We are not isolated when violence is perpetrated in other cities, we are not insulated when violence is enacted against communities different from our own; we are an intersectional family and an attack on one of our communities is an attack on all of us. Not only was the Orlando massacre an act of violence against the LGBTQ community, it was an act of violence against queer people of color. Violence perpetrated against any part of our family is violence perpetrated against all of us.

With this in mind I would like to say that GEO remains committed to the betterment of working and living conditions for all of our members. Sometimes this means acting at the campus level and sometimes it means acting at local, state, and national levels. GEO does not tolerate hate nor discrimination, and we remain dedicated to helping eradicate it one step at a time. The leadership of GEO will continue to examine how we can do so.

In the meantime, if you would like to help out those in the hospital and the victim’s families there is a GoFundMe set up:
https://www.gofundme.com/PulseVictimsFund

In Solidarity,

Nick

Nicholas A. Haas, E.I.T.
Co-President, GEO 6297

The Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) of the University of Illinois at Chicago stands with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Non-Tenure Faculty who are striking for a fair contract.

The Non-Tenure Faculty at UIUC have been bargaining for almost two school years—since October 2014—for their first contract. These full-time instructors, lecturers, teaching associates, clinical assistant and associate professors, and research assistant and associate professors are essential to UIUC’s success as a world-class educational institution.

As teaching assistants and graduate assistants, we share the Non-Tenure Faculty’s concerns with academic freedom, appointment/reappointment notices, evaluation, and many other issues. When 40 percent of undergraduate classes are taught by non-tenure track professors, ensuring academic freedom and job security for these faculty is key to ensuring a quality educational environment for students.

It is unfortunate that after over 555 days, the Administration is not taking the Faculty’s concerns seriously. GEO recognizes that the decision to strike was not taken lightly by the Non-Tenure Faculty and supports the right of the Non-Tenure Faculty to strike without retaliation. We hope that the Administration will recognize the critical role of non-tenure faculty at UIUC and will act quickly to ensure that non-tenure faculty receive the excellent contract that they deserve.

Have you been asked to teach a summer course but haven’t received an appointment letter yet? Please get in touch with us at staff@uic-geo.net.

Our contract was ratified and to celebrate we will be throwing a social at Dugan’s (128 S. Halsted) on April 20th from 5-8pm. Food and drink will be provided.

 

While you are there celebrating you can also vote on the GEO Chair elections. Current chairs up for vote are:

-Two Co-Presidents

-Treasurer

-Secretary

-Grievance Chair

-Bargaining Chair

-Communications Chair

-Outreach Chair

-Organizing Chair

-Chief Steward

(Officer-at-large)

Voting will take place at Dugan’s as well as locations on campus. (More details to come.)

*A raise to the minimum should be reflected on your April paycheck and backpay from the fall semester will be on your May paycheck. 

Just a reminder that the ratification vote begins Monday Feb. 29th and will last until Wed. March 2nd.

Locations of polling stations:
Lobbies of University Hall (at Harrison St and Morgan St), School of Public Health and Psychiatric Institute (Taylor St and Ashland Ave) and Engineering Research Facility (Halsted St and Taylor St)

We will have physical copies of the proposed contract for you to review at the polling stations.
Dates/Times:

Monday February 29th, from 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM (UH and ERF)

Tuesday March 1st, from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM (UH, ERF, SPHPI)

Wednesday March 2nd, from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM (UH, ERF, SPHPI)

*In order to vote you must be a card signing member of the bargaining unit. Cards will be available at polling stations or you can schedule to have this done before. Just email staff@uic-geo.net

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If you want to learn more about the contract before the vote please visit the GEO office (815 W. Van Buren #203) where staff Dawn Tefft and Kristin Ryan will be on hand to go over physical copies of the tentative agreements. They will be holding office hours during the following times:

Thursday February 25th from 10-1
Friday February 26th from 10-1

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 Get to Know the Grievance Process

The GEO Grievance Committee is planning an informational and training session to introduce members to the grievance process. We have spent the last year fighting for a fair contract, and the grievance process is one of the main ways we ensure that our contract is enforced. The grievance committee is tasked with investigating problems, advising members, and seeking informal and formal resolutions to contract violations.

All members are welcome. Come learn more about the process and how you can be involved. The date is TBD (likely the week following UIC’s Spring Break). For more information, please contact Grievance Committee Chair Marissa Baker (grievance@uic-geo.net) or our staff (staff@uic-geo.net).

Good news, fellow GEO members, the University and the Union came to a tentative agreement on a comprehensive collective bargaining agreement (CBA) last Wednesday, February 10th! We made some important gains and we want to let you know what they are:

  • Wages: The minimum wage will be raised $700 in 2015-16 (raising the minimum to $16,765), $700 in 2016-17 ($17,465), and $600 in 2017-18 ($18,065). The previous contract had raises of $500 each year. Back pay at the new minimum will be given to all assistants currently in the bargaining unit. Back pay amounts are based on the duration and percentage of appointment.
  • Healthcare: The University contribution towards Campus Care fees will be $200 or 35% in 2015-16, $250 or 40% in 2016-17 (whichever is greater), and $275 or 40% in 2017-18. The previous contract had the following fee coverage: $125, $150 or 33%, and $175 or 33%.
  • Leaves and Holidays: The new contract includes one paid personal day per semester, which we did not have in the previous contract.
  • Nondiscrimination: We gained increased protections under our nondiscrimination clause by adding “gender identity and gender expression” and “pregnancy” as protected statuses. We were also able to change the language throughout the contract to include gender neutral pronouns to make sure the language of our contract represents all of our members.
  • Other workplace issues: We added a way to address consistently late course assignments, and a few tools to address concerns with the University between now and the next bargaining cycle.

Additionally, we limited the effect of the University’s proposals. We were able to get the University to drop their attack on tuition waivers and come to recognize that they are essential to both union members and the University. The University wanted us to take a five year contract, which we rejected in order to maintain a three year contract. The shorter contract cycle means more members can be involved in negotiations, and it gives us more frequent opportunities to push for better working conditions. The University wanted to drop the percentage coverage of our health care fees in favor of just a flat fee, but we got them to agree to cover more of our health care fees and increase the percentage. The University originally wanted us to change our contract to require us to show majority status the day before we even know who is in our bargaining unit, and we pushed back hard to get a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that requires a one-time card showing within three months of ratifying the contract. This MOU will not be incorporated into our official contract language, and it will sunset when this contract expires, which means that it will not be included as an item for renegotiation during the next round of contract negotiations.

None of these gains would be possible without a large, active, and informed membership and tireless efforts by all of the volunteer leaders and our two staff within the GEO. The administration wanted us to take a 5-year wage freeze, but instead we got the biggest raise in our union’s history. They wanted to possibly take away our tuition waivers, but we successfully safeguarded them. They wanted to bust our union, but we fought to protect our union– a fight that we will have to continue in the coming weeks, months, and years. And we managed to accomplish all of this in the context of an unprecedentedly hostile political environment in Illinois, with an ongoing state budget crisis and with an anti-union governor.

Now it is up to you. Come to our polling stations at UH, SPHI and ERF on the dates and times listed below and cast your vote on whether the Union should ratify this agreement. There will be members at every polling station to answer any questions you have about the new contract.

 

Contract Ratification Vote

Locations of polling stations:

Lobbies of University Hall (at Harrison St and Morgan St), School of Public Health and Psychiatric Institute (Taylor St and Ashland Ave) and Engineering Research Facility (Halsted St and Taylor St)
Dates/Times:

Monday February 29th, from 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM (UH and ERF)

Tuesday March 1st, from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM (UH, ERF, SPHPI)

Wednesday March 2nd, from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM (UH, ERF, SPHPI)

 

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The GEO will hold a training for everyone interested in helping out with the membership drive and ratification vote. This will cover everything you need to know to sign up GAs and TAs as members, as well as information about the proposed contract.

The training will be on Thursday, February 25 from 4-5:30 pm at the GEO office (815 W. Van Buren, Suite 203). Dinner will be provided; please RSVP to staff@uic-geo.net.

Past updates on bargaining are here. Bargaining sessions are on Mondays and Wednesdays in University Hall (UH) 650. Next session: Feb. 8, 12-5pm.

GEO held its 20th and 21st bargaining session with the University this week. On Monday, GEO presented a counter proposal to University which was met with a counter from the University. Both sides made movement towards the other. On Wednesday, GEO responded to the University’s most recent counter, the University responded, and the GEO countered (doesn’t it seem like I’m describing chess or a sporting event?). Once again, both sides made movement towards the other. At this point in time, the main outstanding differences between the two parties are wages and changes to Fair Share. As always, the University wants to pay us less than we deserve, but there have been significant advances in their position and we are close to an agreement here. However, the University has proposed changes to Fair Share that would force GEO to send signed member cards to the University. This would allow them to stop deducting fair share fees (which are used to keep the union running) from those who had not signed a card. This is something that we are still fighting against.

Our next bargaining session will be Monday February 8th, from 12-5 PM in UH 650. Note: the University will be caucusing until 1 PM and therefore will not be in the room until after 1 PM. GEO will be caucusing from 12-1 PM to discuss Fair Share and what is a proposal that we would be willing to accept. The University’s proposal on Monday will be brought to the GMM on Tuesday the 9th to get a sense of whether or not we might be ready to tentatively agree to a new contract. See you all next week!

Things at GEO are heating up!

We held a successful “Work In” at University Hall to give visibility to our labor. We packed the room and held a silent protest at the Board of Trustees meeting where we let the board know we are serious about a fair contract!

GEO members have been attending bargaining sessions, strategy meetings, and doing office visits to keep people up to date. We have just begun to mobilize!

 

Health care, wages, and tuition waivers are on the table and we need you!
We know a quality contract requires GEO to stand together.

General Membership Meeting:

Tuesday Feb. 9th

6-7:30pm

Gallery 400

400 S. Peoria
https://www.facebook.com/events/869532959830824/

At this meeting we will bring everyone up to speed on the latest from bargaining. We will also be finalizing and voting on our upcoming strike plan. The strike plan is going to require active participants from every department. Please join us to discuss the strike plan and share your ideas and concerns.

Food will be provided.12593805_958070614275543_2677813634317883839_o

Past updates on bargaining are here. Bargaining sessions are on Wednesdays in University Hall (UH) 650. Next session: Feb. 1, 1-4pm.
On Wednesday January 20th, 2016 the University and GEO restarted negotiations which had been on hold since before Thanksgiving due to the holidays and the University Team’s vacation schedule. However, the tone of negotiations was changed with the meeting on the 20th. Dean of the Graduate College, Karen Colley, is now attending bargaining negotiations as the Chancellor’s spokesperson.
Additionally, the University brought to the GEO a new comprehensive proposal that had made significant movement from the previous position and in the context of how bargaining has been proceeding this contract negotiation season. GEO did not accept this proposal, but created a counter proposal that was presented today, Wednesday the 27th, to the University. The University responded with a counter. GEO will pass another comprehensive proposal to the University on Monday, February 1st, in UH 650 from 1-4 PM. This process will likely repeat on Wednesday, February 3rd, from 12-5 PM.
TL;DR: There has been movement from both the University and the GEO in negotiations. We will be meeting with the University again on Monday the 1st from 1-4 PM in UH 650 as well as Wednesday the 3rd from 12-5 PM also in UH 650. GEO will pass another comprehensive proposal to the University on Monday the 1st and will likely receive a response. This will likely repeat on Wednesday. Come and make your voice heard in our decisions to accept or reject the proposals that the University gives to the GEO!

Contract negotiations are heating up!

Now is a crucial time to get active with your union and plan our possible upcoming strike.

Wednesday Jan. 27th
UIC-GEO Bargaining Session 
12-5pm (You don’t have to stay the entire session)
UH 650

Wednesday Jan. 27th
Grievance Committee Meeting
6pm at GEO Offices 815 W. VanBuren Suite 203

Thursday Jan. 28th
Stewards and Organizing Meeting
4pm at GEO Offices 815 W. VanBuren Suite 203

Monday Feb. 1st
Steering Committee Meeting
4pm at GEO Offices 815 W. VanBuren Suite 203

Monday Feb. 1st
Ad-Hoc Strike Planning Committee Meeting
5pm at GEO Offices 815 W. VanBuren Suite 203

Wednesday Feb. 3rd
UIC-GEO Bargaining Session 
12-5pm You don’t have to stay the entire session
UH 650

Friday Feb. 5th
Communications Committee Meeting
2pm at GEO Offices 815 W. VanBuren Suite 203

Monday Feb. 8th
Strike Planning Committee Meeting
5pm at GEO Offices 815 W. VanBuren Suite 203

Tuesday Feb. 9th
General Membership Meeting
Finalize Strike Plan and Bargaining Update
6pm at Gallery 400 400 S. Peoria St.
Food Provided

Wednesday Feb. 10th
UIC-GEO Bargaining Session 
12-5pm You don’t have to stay the entire session
UH 650

Thursday Feb. 11th
Stewards and Organizing Meeting
4pm at GEO Offices 815 W. VanBuren Suite 203

Monday Feb. 15th
Steering Committee Meeting
4pm at GEO Offices 815 W. VanBuren Suite 203

Wednesday Feb. 17th
UIC-GEO Bargaining Session 
12-5pm (You don’t have to stay the entire session)
UH 650