GEO (Graduate Employees Organization) invites you to our first membership meeting of the academic year. Not sure what a union is or how GEO makes your time at UIC better?
This is the perfect place for you to find out!

The union leadership will be presenting on the following topics:
This year’s budget
The process of organizing towards our new contract
New contract proposals
And more!

Wednesday October 11th 
Gallery 400 
(400 S. Peoria) 
This is an opportunity to meet the union stewards and leadership that run GEO!
Most importantly, this is a first step to learn how you can get involved to make your union even stronger!

Dinner will be provided.
This space is accessible for all GEO members.

The Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) is throwing our annual Fall Social and you’re invited! It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the important work GEO does, like the upcoming contract campaign. It’s also a fun way to meet the people already active in your union and see how you can be involved.

Please join us:
Thursday August 31st 
Dugan’s Pub (128 S. Halsted)

Monday, May 8, 2017


The Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) of the University of Illinois at Chicago (IFT/AFT Local 6297) stands in solidarity with the teachers and staff at the Noble Network of Charter Schools who are organizing a union.


We support their efforts to form a union, because we understand just how necessary it is to fight for our rights in the workplace. Unions make it possible for us to improve our working conditions: from demanding fair wages to fighting against discrimination, unions are a powerful collective voice for workers. As members of unions, we are not only improving our own lives, we are working for each other and for our communities. As teaching assistants and graduate assistants at UIC, GEO members understand firsthand that our working conditions are UIC students’ learning conditions. And as our educational institutions are increasingly underfunded and teachers and staff are stretched thin, it is more important than ever to fight for a better future for our school communities. UIC GEO members recognize the incredible work of the teachers and staff of the Noble Network of Charter Schools, and we strongly support their demand for a voice at work.



The Graduate Employees Organization is the labor union that represents more than 1,400 Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants at UIC. The GEO is a democratic union run by and for its members. The GEO is affiliated with the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and the AFL-CIO.


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GEO Leadership Election Voting will be held at the following locations:
Tuesday 4/11 from 11-1:
ERF and the College of Nursing
Wednesday 4/12 from 11-1:
ERF, the College of Nursing, and SEO
*Nominations are open until the end of the day tomorrow!
For more information visit:

UIC Graduate Employees Organization Local 6297 demands a fair budget for Illinois

Picket against Governor Rauner: Thursday, March 30th at 5 pm at the Chicago Hilton, 720 S Michigan Ave.

The Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Local 6297, stands with unions, community groups, and social justice organizations from across Illinois to demand that Governor Bruce Rauner pass a fair budget. For over two years, Rauner has held our state budget hostage to his anti-worker agenda. He refuses to provide the necessary funding for our schools, health centers, immigration services, senior services, and other vital social programs. He refuses to negotiate fairly with the unions representing state workers, and has tried to impose harsh and devastating contract terms – cutting wages, attacking pensions, and making health care unaffordable. He refuses to respect the rights of workers to collectively make their voices heard, and tramples on the rights and well-being of all Illinois residents.

And we refuse to accept his attacks.

As graduate workers and students at the University of Illinois at Chicago, we understand the importance of a thriving community of public universities where we can teach and research. We know that our students deserve to have access to equitable and well-funded schools starting in kindergarten and on through college. We stand with our broad university family against continued assaults on higher education in Illinois. Last year, Chicago State University was almost forced to shut its doors. This month, Governors State has announced it will raise tuition and cut 22 programs in the fall due to the state budget crisis. Northeastern Illinois University was forced to shut down during their spring break, and nearly all employees took five unpaid furlough days. Hundreds of student employees have lost their jobs at NEIU because of Rauner’s austerity agenda.

We are opposed to Rauner’s attempts to destroy public services and undermine workers’ rights. We demand a fair budget for all Illinois residents and we urge UIC community members to join us for a picket against Rauner’s agenda on Thursday, March 30th at 5 pm at the Chicago Hilton (720 S Michigan Ave). Let’s make our voices heard.

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It’s election time!  If you would like to run for one of the following GEO officer positions, please send your name and two-sentence candidate statement to by Wednesday, April 5th:

–Bargaining Chair: Responsibilities include attending and facilitating contract negotiations, strategizing with the bargaining and organizing teams, and reporting back to membership.

–Communications Chair: Responsibilities include facilitating Communications Committee meetings, and helping to create and maintain GEO’s messaging and online presence.

–Treasurer: Responsibilities include keeping track of all union finances, maintaining budget, and serving as chair for the budget committee.

–Co-President (2 positions): Responsibilities include chairing Steering Committee meetings, working as a liaison to the committees, and being a spokesperson of GEO.

–Grievance Chair: Includes evaluating potential grievances, interviewing grievants and investigating grievances, and working with Stewards Council members to help resolves grievances.

–Secretary: Includes keeping records of meetings, creating and maintaining files of agendas and minutes, and attending Steering Committee meetings.

–Outreach Chair: Includes doing outreach to campus unions and groups and the larger community.

–Organizing Chair: Includes working with Stewards to build membership, organize around member issues, and run contract and issue campaigns.

–Chief Steward: Includes working with Stewards to help facilitate communication about contractual rights, build membership, and organize around issues.

Voting will take place on campus April 11th and 12th on campus. Voting will also take place at the GEO 1o Year Anniversary Event on April 13th at Jak’s Tap from 5-7pm.


In just a year’s time, GEO will begin the process of negotiating our labor contract with the UIC administration.  Before the bargaining committee sits down to negotiate with the administration, GEO will work together to articulate a common set of concerns regarding wages, working conditions, and the climate of UIC.  Please join in the first step of GEO’s contract campaign by taking our member survey online.

It only takes about 10 minutes, and your responses will be kept confidential.


Take the survey here:

GRADUATE EMPLOYEES ORGANIZATION LOCAL 6297 Stands in Opposition to Executive Order

Approved unanimously by the General Membership Meeting, February 2, 2017

The Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Local 6297, is firmly opposed to President Trump’s recent Executive Order banning refugees as well as visitors and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries.  We stand in solidarity with the unions, civil liberties organizations, public officials, community leaders, and activists who are fighting this measure.

We agree with our parent union, the American Federation of Teachers, which said in a statement: “We oppose Trump’s orders, the racist and xenophobic logic that underlies them, the havoc they have created in the lives of those affected, and the damage they have done to America’s standing in the world and to our national security.”

We reject President Trump’s narrative that this is not a ban on Muslims but rather a response to foreign terrorism. Islamophobia and xenophobia were a clear plank in his election platform. While still a candidate in December 2015, he explicitly called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Last week, he said that he would give priority to resettling Christian refugees over those of other religious backgrounds. His confidante Rudy Giuliani told Fox News this past weekend that the president specifically wanted a “Muslim ban.”

This order has direct impacts on GEO members, especially those from the seven banned countries. Those of us who are affected will not be able to attend conferences overseas, travel for job interviews, go home to visit friends and family, or have family come visit us. For those of us with partners or children in other countries, these restrictions are especially dire. As international graduate student workers provide vital labor to universities, hospitals, and research centers, this order is already having ripple effects harming entire communities and industries and, in the long term, America’s relationships with the world.

There are already heartbreaking stories of international graduate students across the country being adversely affected. Nazanin Zinouri, a recent PhD graduate of Clemson University, explains how she went to visit family in Iran and is now unable to get back into the U.S. Without warning and after seven years of living in the U.S.,  she is now indefinitely separated from her friends, her dog, her house, her car, and her job. “As far as the U.S. government is concerned, my life doesn’t matter,” she wrote.

Whether by design or through carelessness, the rapid implementation of this Executive Order has created chaos for hundreds, if not thousands, of travelers and their families.  At airports across the country, travelers with legal visas are currently being detained without lawyers, handcuffed, and questioned for hours. One woman and her two children were held for 20 hours without food at Dulles Airport. We consider these to be blatant violations of basic human rights.

It is important to note that, although the restrictions on travelers from the seven countries is set to last for 90 days, the Trump Administration is calling it a “trial” period, indicating they intend to make this permanent. It remains to be seen what the ultimate scope of these restrictions will be.

We strongly encourage GEO members to participate in the ongoing protests against this refugee and immigrant ban, which are already making a difference. For example, the Executive Order originally applied to people with Green Cards from the seven countries, but after the protests began, the Trump Administration backed off and said Green Card holders would be exempt from the ban (though they are still being detained at airports and subjected to abusive treatment).

If you are a UIC student with questions about the implications of this Executive Order for your legal status here in the United States, please contact the UIC Office of International Services.

For legal assistance to people who have been or may be detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), or other agencies, we recommend reaching out to the following organizations:

First Defense Legal Aid (24-hour emergency hotline: 1-800-LAW-REP-4)

National Lawyers Guild-Chicago

If you want to learn more about this issue, get involved, or show solidarity, here are some places to do so:

American Civil Liberties Union

Arab American Action Network

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

American Federation of Teachers

Academics Against Immigration Executive Order

Also, you can call your member of Congress or Senator and tell them to oppose this Executive Order.

University of Illinois at Chicago Graduate Employees Organization (UIC-GEO), IFT/AFT AFL-CIO Local 6297 Statement on the 2016 Election

Dear GEO Members,

Tuesday’s election brought many changes to our government, some we can already fathom and others that will only be revealed in the coming weeks and months. Based on the election results, it is almost certain that higher education and organized labor will face new and continued challenges at multiple levels, from the ongoing Illinois budget crisis to the strong possibility of the Supreme Court and National Labor Relations Board taking away key worker protections.

On another level, many of us at UIC—GEO members, colleagues, and undergraduate students—are fearful of what will happen next simply because of who we are and where we are from. We, as the GEO and as individuals, must do our best to support one another and show students, colleagues, friends, families and communities that we will always have their backs. We also have to advocate in areas where our voices may carry more weight based on who we are and where we are from.

We have to organize. At UIC, we must support one another and enforce our contract year round to maintain our protections and our dignity as graduate student workers. Our next contract campaign will officially begin this spring and we need to be prepared to not only defend, but expand our rights. Crucially, we will have to maintain a high number of voting members, because if the university believes our union does not have the majority of grad employees behind it, we risk losing leverage at the bargaining table and losing tangible benefits.

So we call on everyone to please:

  • Become a departmental steward if you have a few extra hours each month. Stewards help enforce the contract and advocate for members facing unfair and discriminatory labor practices (you can also join the Grievance, Outreach, or Communications committees)
  • Sign up members in your departments so that we have robust membership numbers.  This is absolutely critical to maintaining our right to collectively bargain with the university.
    • Email for a list of people in your department who are not currently signed up as voting members (people who have not yet signed a yellow card)
    • Contact members of the steering committee and our GEO staff if you would like someone to go with you to sign up new members (list of contacts here)
  • If you want to support our membership and communities more broadly, consider getting involved in our Outreach Committee (, where we connect to local movements beyond the union (here are just a few groups we’d like to reach out to going forward; send us information on other groups you are involved with so we can try to connect with them):

Our union is what we make of it – our successes are the result of the committed efforts of all of us as members. And we know we are better off fighting for our rights together, rather than struggling alone.

Please join us for the first general meeting of Fall 2016 at Gallery 400 (400 S. Peoria) Wed. Oct. 26th
Food and refreshments at 11:45
Meeting at 12:00
Agenda highlights:
Budget/Dues Increase Vote
Know Your Rights and Contract Review
GEO Goals Discussion

This past spring, we won a hard fought contract campaign to get the largest pay increases we have had in any contract, along with increases to health insurance and leave benefits and important improvements in our nondiscrimination clause. These recent successes just remind us of what we already know: we are stronger together. We are going to keep working to protect our rights, improve our working conditions, and strive to build a more just community at UIC and beyond.

Our first General Membership Meeting this fall will be held on Wednesday, October 26 from 12 to 1:30 pm in the lecture hall of Gallery 400 (400 S. Peoria). We will have a Know Your Rights discussion so we all become more familiar with our contract and our rights in the workplace. We will also have committee and council chairs describe the different ways to get more involved. We are planning to cap off the meeting with a group discussion about important issues we are facing in our jobs, so we can set out priorities and projects for our union.

Importantly, at this meeting we will have a discussion and vote on our budget for 2016-17 and a proposal for a dues increase. In order to continue to build our strength and wage successful contract campaigns, we need to ensure the financial stability of our union. We have not voted to raise our dues since 2010, but our expenses have increased over the years, in part due to increases in the dues we send to our state and national affiliate unions, the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). After reviewing budget projections, the Steering Committee is proposing to increase the dues rate from 2.25% to 2.4%. This will amount to an increase of only $2.91 a month for those of us with 50% appointments at the current minimum. We believe this increase is necessary to make sure we have the resources available to continue our work and to confront any challenges in the years ahead.

Our union is what we make of it – our successes are the result of the committed efforts of all of us as members. And we know we are better off fighting for our rights together, rather than struggling alone.