To kick off our contract campaign, UIC GEO is hosting a work-in at University Hall on December 2 to remind the University about all the work that GAs and TAs do.

Bring your work, wear a GEO shirt (or wear red) and help show that our work powers the university!

Come any time between 10 and 4, and stay as long as you like!

For more information, check out the Facebook event. workin

Past updates on bargaining are here. Bargaining sessions are on Wednesdays in University Hall (UH) 650. Next session: TBD.

The Bargaining Committee met with the University’s bargaining team to discuss our healthcare proposals. They had questions last week that we put off to receive their comprehensive contract proposal. We feel like we addressed the concerns that they had. The message from the University was: that CampusCare is great and incomparable to other insurance plans, that their main decision driver is cost to the program but not the users, and that when medically necessary care is not covered by our insurance its unfortunate but uncontrollable.

After discussing healthcare we asked for an update on the University’s economic proposals. They did not have one. In fact, they indicated that no update to their proposals would be forthcoming, likely until the new year. However, they did reiterate their desire for absolutely no changes to the old contract. When pushed, they indicated that they would only make changes on wages and the healthcare fee. They offered campus wage (a % increase to wages) which will most likely be 0% next semester, with the state budget stalemate given as an excuse. We are tired of their rhetoric and empty proposals.

At last week’s membership meeting we voted to begin planning for a strike on campus if negotiations continue on the current course. We had a planning session last Saturday and have created a calendar full of events and activities for you to get active in!

Tonight Monday Nov. 16th is our Strike Planning Meeting. 5pm 815 W. Van Buren #203

Wednesday Nov. 18th will be the last contract negotiation session for the month.            12:00pm UH 650
We need as many Graduate Employees at the table as we can fit since we have gotten into the economic issues and received a full proposal from the administration.

Thursday Nov. 19th Stewards and Organizing Meeting 4pm 815 W. Van Buren #203

December 2nd we will host a Work In at University Hall. Come out and make your work visible while also getting an update on strike planning and contract negotiations.

The GEO has heard from many members who want to know what has been happening at the contract negotiation sessions with the university administration. While the best way to be in the know is to come to the bargaining sessions, we will provide weekly updates here on the sessions and the progress, or lack thereof, towards reaching a new contract. Past updates are here.

Bargaining sessions are on Wednesdays in University Hall (UH) 650. Next session: November 18, 1:30pm.

The GEO met with the University for our 16th bargaining session on 11/11. We have now been in bargaining for more than 6 months and working without a contract for almost 3. The University passed us a comprehensive proposal (meaning it addressed every article in the contract), which was as terrible, if not more terrible, than we expected. Highlights include (in the order they appear in the contract):

  • The University wants the rights to take away appointments without replacing them even after the offer letter is signed (This is a right we already have under the contract!!!)
  • No change to the minimum and only campus wage program increases for continuing students
  • No change to fees including Campus Care
  • The University wants to collect signed member cards before they have given us a list of members for the semester
  • The University wants the right to immediately terminate members who fail to complete ethics training
  • The University wants to end guaranteed tuition waivers
The University admitted that the proposal for wages and the Campus Care fee were not necessarily accurate because their lead negotiator had not received some information that was needed. We closed the session by letting them know that we could not accept this offer and that we would like to see the real figures for wages.

The GEO has heard from many members who want to know what has been happening at the contract negotiation sessions with the university administration. While the best way to be in the know is to come to the bargaining sessions, we will provide weekly updates here on the sessions and the progress, or lack thereof, towards reaching a new contract. Past updates are here.

Bargaining sessions are on Wednesdays at 12 PM in University Hall (UH) 650). Next session: November 11, 2015.

Update: November 6, 2015

The GEO met with the University for the 15th bargaining session on 11/04. It was decided that GEO would not pass counter-proposals back to the University as we wanted to push on through the last 2 semi-economic articles. This did not please the University (as it did not play into the game they like to play: stall, stall, stall). However, we were able to get a verbal commitment from the University that they will propose a comprehensive economic package next week. They explicitly stated that the only movement in this package would be around wages, health care, and fees and that it would be paltry and unpalatable to our members. Next week’s bargaining session (11/11) is highly important as we will see if the University delivers on their commitment to bring a comprehensive economic package and how sparse it is.

Contract bargaining resumes today! Show support for GEO and get informed by attending this important session.
12:00 University Hall Rm. 650


And don’t forget our General Membership Meeting is Nov. 11th

Graduate Employees Organization Newsletter
Tuesday, October 20, 2015

1. General Membership Meeting (November 11 at 6 pm)
2. Elections for GEO Leadership Positions
3. Staff Transition
4. Grievance Tip
5. Meetings and Announcements

1. General Membership Meeting: Wed. Nov. 11th 6 – 7:30 pm
at the Gallery 400 Lecture Room (400 S. Peoria St)
GEO will have a general membership meeting to discuss the following issues:
Bargaining update:
Negotiations will resume on Wed. Oct. 28th from 12-5 in UH 650. We will begin by hearing a response from the University to our last proposal about Union Rights. Following that will be a discussion of Non-Discrimination to follow up on our conversation with Caryn Bills from the Office of Access and Equity. After those conversations wrap up, we will discuss economic issues, and possibly access to leave, building temperatures, and timely course assignments.
Strike drive authorization vote:
Be part of the next steps of strategy as we move forward in negotiations to ensure we have a strong contract. The Strike Drive authorization vote authorizes our union to start preparing and organizing for the possibility of a strike, but it is not an authorization for a strike. We are going to continue to work hard to communicate our needs at the bargaining table and through campaign actions, but we need to be prepared in case the membership decides we need to strike to get a fair contract. This meeting will provide us an opportunity to discuss the strike drive authorization in more detail before the vote, so we hope you will be able to join us.
We will hold elections for several leadership positions. Please see the item below for information on running for office and getting involved.
2. Elections for GEO leadership positions:
We are eager to get more members engaged in the running of our union. We have some open positions on the steering committee (listed below), which we will vote on at the GMM. But you don’t have to be a Chair to get involved! Please feel free to contact Kristin Ryan ( or Co-President Sarah Patton Moberg ( to find out more.

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

Communications Chair: Responsibilities include facilitating Communications Committee meetings (every two weeks), delegating tasks, and having an important role in creating and managing 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: Responsibilities include chairing Steering Committee meetings, working as a liaison to the committees, and being a spokesperson of GEO.
To nominate yourself please send an e-mail with a short biography and the position you’re running for to the Elections Committee at by Friday, Nov.6th in order to appear on the paper ballot for elections at our GMM on November 11. If you would like more information on any of these positions, please contact Kristin at Nominations will also be accepted on the floor of the meeting as write-in candidates.

3. Staff transition announcement from the Steering Committee:
We are very excited to announce that Kristin Ryan has joined us as one of our new union staff, after working in the Chicago area for many years organizing with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 881. We are grateful to have her impressive experience and energy at the GEO, and we encourage you to reach out to her with any questions or just to meet up ( Dawn Tefft, who has worked for UIC United Faculty and the American Association of University Professors, will be joining our staff on November 2. We will miss Liz Sauer and Amy Livingston, our former union staff who contributed years of their hard work and dedication to our union, but we look forward to continuing to work with them in the same broader movement for workers’ rights.

4. Grievance Tip:
All members have a right to union representation at any and all meetings where discipline or dismissal is being discussed. If a disciplinary meeting is scheduled, or if you have any questions about discipline or dismissal, contact the GEO Grievance Committee immediately at

5. Meetings and Announcements:
The Graduate Employee Organization functions most effectively when our membership is engaged. Please consider attending one of the upcoming meetings and being part of positively impacting your workplace.

Pizza parties are being planned by departments all over campus. GEO members are coordinating these gatherings to introduce themselves and talk about what GEO means to them. Want to schedule a pizza party for your department or wondering if there is already one happening? Email Kristin Ryan at

Upcoming Meetings and Events (all meetings are held at the GEO office (815 W. Van Buren, Suite 203–enter on Halsted) unless otherwise noted):

General Membership Meeting: Wednesday Nov. 11th 6:00-7:30 pm in the Gallery 400 Lecture Room (400 S. Peoria St)

Steering Committee Meeting: Thursday Oct. 29th 11:00 am in the GEO office

Organizing Committee Meeting: Thursday Oct. 22nd 4-5pm in the GEO office
Thursday Nov. 5th 4-5 pm in the GEO office

Campus Worker and Student Coalition Meeting: Thursday, Oct. 29th 5:00pm in the Illinois Federation of Teachers Office (850 W Jackson Suite 220)

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).