The Graduate Employees Organization (Local 6297, IFT/AFT, AFL-CIO) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC GEO) stands in solidarity with the East St. Louis Federation of Teachers, Local 1220 in their strike for a fair contract. Members voted overwhelmingly to reject the latest contract proposal from the school board, which would decrease the pay of new teachers and staff over the entire course of their careers. They have been in negotiations for three years, and have gone without raises during that time, as the district has pushed across proposals that attack their livelihoods and the long term viability of public education. The members of Local 1220 are standing strong and united in their demands that the district come back to the bargaining table to make a genuine effort to negotiate a contract that honors the essential work of the teachers and staff of East St. Louis schools. UIC GEO stands with the members of Local 1220 as they fight to defend the rights of workers and protect the institution of public education in their community.

Communications Chair
GEO member and Communications Chair Mik Czerwinski is heading off to study in Poland. He will be missed so a new Communications Chair will need to be voted on by the membership. The Communications Chair works with fellow members of the Communications Committee to plan a communications timeline, including social media posts and the GEO newsletter, and design posters and fliers. It’s more important than ever to have someone in this position since keeping your fellow members updated on bargaining is a vital part of the contract year. It’s also perfect for someone who likes to do things remotely since much of this can be done from your own computer. Interested or have questions? Email Mik and staff at

Bargaining Committee
The member-run Bargaining Committee is on the front lines of the contract campaign and represents the membership at the bargaining table with the University. As part of the committee, you’ll be helping draft contract language, doing research, serving as spokesperson (if you’re interested–certainly not a requirement!), and discussing proposals with fellow members during bargaining sessions. Interested in learning more? Email Cloie McClellan, Bargaining Chair, at
See the Bargaining Team in action at the next bargaining session on Wednesday, September 9th from 12-5 p.m. in University Hall room 650! Even if you can only make it for a short time, stop by!

These positions will be voted on by the membership at the next General Membership Meeting which is Tuesday, September 15th from 6-7 pm at Gallery 400 (400 S. Peoria).

At Wednesday’s bargaining session, the University laid down several aggressive, problematic proposals regarding the following issues:

1. Tuition Waivers: Currently, under the GEO contract, all Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants who are covered by the contract receive a guaranteed tuition waiver. Under the University’s proposal, tuition waivers would be guaranteed only for those with appointments at the time the contract is settled. That means that during the following semester if, for example, an employee who worked as an Research Assistant becomes a new TA, a tuition waiver may not be guaranteed––it’s all up to your department and their funding situation.

2. Non-Discrimination: A University administrator is quoted as saying, in regards to the GEO’s non-discrimination proposal, “Non-Discrimination is ridiculous.”

So the question is: what do YOU want in your contract? Do you want guaranteed tuition waivers? Do you want non-discrimination protections? This is your union, your contract, so come have your say! All members are welcome and all card-signing members can vote on proposals that are passed across the table. Join us at the table on Wednesday, September 9th from 12-5 p.m. in University Hall room 650. Even if you can only come for a part of it, join us!

The Graduate Employees Organization (Local 6297, IFT/AFT, AFL-CIO) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC GEO) stands in solidarity with the parents and community members who are now on a hunger strike to protest the closing of Walter H. Dyett High School. We demand that Chicago Public Schools accept the coalition’s proposal to establish the Dyett Global Leadership and Green Technology High School.

CPS has shuttered too many public, community schools in black and brown neighborhoods in order to pass public funds to private firms. Dyett is the last remaining open enrollment high school in Bronzeville. It is unacceptable that many students on the South and West Sides have to commute long distances outside of their neighborhoods just to attend quality public schools. CPS has disinvested in schools in minority neighborhoods while North Side schools, such as Lincoln and Coonley Elementaries, receive millions in funding. The gross disparity in funding allocations and the mass school closings in 2013 demonstrate that Mayor Emanuel and CPS are committed to continuing a legacy of corrupt and racist decisions about public education. We demand that Chicago invest in every neighborhood and every child.

The need for high quality and accessible neighborhood schools that are open to all is a critical concern for Chicago residents. The Dyett hunger strikers have put their bodies on the line in order to be heard by political leaders in charge of our children’s schools. We respect and admire them for their commitment to making a better future for young Chicagoans. CPS must take action immediately to restore access to education in the Bronzeville neighborhood, and must do so in accord with the thoughtful and equitable proposals generated by this coalition.

The GEO is the union that represents teaching and graduate assistants at UIC. Many of our undergraduate students come from Chicago Public Schools. We understand firsthand the importance of a primary and secondary education that will prepare students to be successful in college. Chicago and Illinois need to invest in public education for the future of our state, but even more importantly, because well-resourced and well-funded schools are the foundation of strong communities and a strong democracy.

End the hunger strike by restoring Dyett High School to the Bronzeville community now!

For all the new TAs and GAs who are starting work this week, or for returning TAs and GAs that want to get more involved, the GEO Bargaining session is a great way to become more engaged with your union! The member-run bargaining team has been steadily meeting with the university through out summer, actively proposing improvements to the contract the governs such things as wages, tuition waivers, fee waivers, and protections against discrimination. All members are welcome and all card-signers can help create and vote on any proposals. This is YOUR contract; come have your say in its creation this Wednesday, September 2nd from 1-5 pm in University Hall Room 650. Even if you can only make it for part of the time, stop on by.

Then join your colleagues for the Welcome Back Social from 5-7 p.m. at PhD Bar (1257 S Halsted). Have some free drinks and snacks, meet some new friends from across campus, and unwind from the start of the semester.

The University of Illinois Chicago Graduate Employees Organization (UIC-GEO), American

Federation of Teachers Local 6297, is a fair share labor union representing approximately

1400 Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants across 59 departments at the University

of Illinois at Chicago. We have been recognized by the University of Illinois system since

2004, winning our first contract in 2006. Currently, we are seeking a full-time Staff

Organizer/Representative. This is a unionized position and represented by a Collective

Bargaining Agreement.

 Duties will include:

·      building GEO membership through activities such as office visits and one-on-one


·      identifying and recruiting activists and leaders

·      providing support and advice to committees and Stewards Council

·      planning and execution of events and meetings

·      mobilizing members for job actions and group grievances

·      developing and running ongoing campaigns

·      designing and developing literature

·      enforcing the contract through activities such as grievance processing

·      representing GEO to the UIC administration and other organizations

·      contract negotiations

·      developing and conducting trainings

·      It is expected that 40% of the work week will be devoted to organizing in the field,

with the remaining 60% devoted to other responsibilities as outlined by UIC-GEO


Preferred qualifications include:

·      At least one year union organizing experience

·      Strong interpersonal skills

·      Strong written and oral communication skills

·      Bachelors degree preferred, Associates acceptable with significant experience

·      Flexibility in work schedule absolutely necessary (some nights/weekends will be

necessary, especially during contract campaigns)

·      Enjoys/would enjoy working with students seeking advanced degrees

Salary and benefits:

·      Salary is $64,687.50

·      Competitive healthcare insurance provided, including dental and vision coverage,

as well as short term and long term disability coverage and 401k contributions.

Application process:

·      E-mail submission of application preferred.  Direct applications and inquiries to

·      When applying, please include a cover letter and resume, including references who

can comment on organizing work

·      Please respond by August 31st, 2015.  We will be contacting applicants for

interviews after that date.

·      If you prefer to mail your application, please send materials to:

UIC Graduate Employees Organization

815 W. Van Buren, Suite 203

Chicago, IL 60607

·      We strongly encourage women, people of color, and LGBTQ individuals to apply!

Dear colleagues at UIC,

Our names are Daniel Vergara and Alicia Luque and we are PhD students at UIC. We are writing this post with the hope that we can raise awareness about the significant increase in the International Student Fee that will be applied to us by the Office of International Students (OIS) for the 2015-2016 academic year. So far, international students at UIC have had to pay an amount of $80 per semester for the services that the OIS provides to international students. About two months ago, the OIS sent out an e-mail stating that due to incoming budget cuts, the office is going to raise the international student fee to $130 per semester for a total of $260 per year. Coincidentally, this e-mail was sent before the Dean notified all university staff, faculty and students that budget negotiations were still ongoing and it was not yet clear which official entities at UIC were going to be affected by these budget cuts.

The OIS claims that the increase in the fee is to improve the services provided at their office but they will not provide us with any details as to how this money will be used. $260 a year might not seem much, but as international graduate workers who earn limited wages and are not allowed to work off-campus, we could better use this money to travel to conferences, conduct research, or simply pay rent. As international workers we visit the OIS for visa-related issues, but we don’t believe that those services are sufficient to justify the fee increase. UIC is an institution that takes pride in being diverse and multicultural, and that’s why this fee increase is an embarrassment to the OIS and to what UIC stands for. We came to UIC because it was a diverse institution that cherished and valued international students, but sadly we don’t feel that way anymore. During these past two months, we have been organizing to fight this fee increase but we need YOU. We need your support. Whether or not you are an international worker, this is a clear case of DISCRIMINATION and it should not be ignored. Please show us your support by reposting this, raising awareness, coming to our meetings, or even talking to your international colleagues about the fee increase. This fee needs to STOP!

Our next meeting will be Monday, August 10th at 5 p.m. at the UIC GEO office (815 W. Van Buren, Suite 203). Join us!


Daniel Vergara and Alicia Luque

Are you bilingual? Your union needs your help! The GEO seeks members to help translate information into a variety of languages for our international student worker members. We are especially looking for members fluent in the following languages: Arabic, Cantonese, Hindi, Korean, Mandarin, Polish, Russian, and Spanish. If you would like to help please contact or

The bargaining team has been unable to reach a tentative agreement with the University on any of the articles so far. We will attempt to reach an agreement again this Wednesday, August 5th from 2-5 p.m. in University Hall Room 650. If we cannot reach an agreement, we will explore the possibility of mediation. All members are welcome and while you’re at the session, you have a chance to shape and vote on all responses to university proposals. So come on over even if you can only make it for a brief time.

Plus, if you want a new and improved GEO t-shirt, let us know and we’ll bring you one! Either comment below with your size and color (black or red) or emails us at

If you’re an international student and worker at UIC, then the announcement about the newly implemented International Student Fee increasing from $80 to $130 must have felt like a huge, unwelcome surprise. But what is this fee used for and does the Office of International Students really need all of this money? In an effort to find out, we want to know more about how often people use the Office of International Students and for what. Your answers are totally confidential and you can fill out the survey here:
If you’ve already filled out the survey, that’s great! Please help by forwarding this to your colleagues and encourage them to fill it out too. The more information we have, the better!