The University of Illinois at Chicago Graduate Employees Organization (Local 6297) stands in solidarity with the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation at the University of Oregon as they strike for a fair contract.  The items that GTFF is requesting, such as two weeks of paid sick leave, are not unreasonable demands; rather, they are an important part of safe, fair working conditions for a vital group of university employees.

Considering the University turned a profit of $34 million in 2014, with the funds not specifically allocated for a particular use, it’s apparent that money is not a concern.  Rather, it’s about doing the right thing for the University’s workers.  The administration has the power to demonstrate they value workers by prioritizing fellows’ basic needs and providing them with a fair contract at the University of Oregon immediately.

GEO also stands in solidarity with New York University’s Graduate Student Organizing Committee (UAW Local 2110) as they bargain for a fair contract with their university’s administration.  With the university failing to address basic issues such as tuition reimbursement, fair health care coverage, and improvements to child care at the bargaining table, we support GSOC’s threat to strike.  We demand that NYU’s administration return to the bargaining table in good faith and take the necessary steps to negotiate a fair contract.

In Solidarity,
The Steering Committee of the UIC Graduate Employees Organization, Local 6297

The UIC Graduate Employees Organization (Local 6297, IFT/AFT, AFL-CIO) stands in solidarity with fast food workers across the nation who have called for a strike on December 4, 2014 to demand higher wages and the right to unionize. Along with home health care workers, airport workers, and Walmart workers, fast food workers are organizing to demand fair wages and better working conditions from wealthy corporations that reap substantial profits off their backs.
We are in solidarity with all workers who stand up and fight for a living wage. We stand with fast food workers as they go on strike, and call for everyone to support them by not crossing the picket line on December 4th.

To Support the fast food workers yourself, call on fast food chains to allow employees to strike for better pay and treatment without retaliation by signing this SEIU petition:  http://action.seiu.org/page/s/support-striking-fast-food-workers

As legislators debate raising our minimum wage, workers all over Chicagoland are trying to figure out how to cover their expenses on poor wages. Jobs with Justice and Fight for 15 are having too big events over the next two weeks.

Phone Banks:

There will be phone banks at the JwJ offices all next week (4PM to 8PM) at 333 S. Ashland. Contact Susan Hurley at susanmhurley at gmail to volunteer.

Black Friday Rally:

Friday, November 27th, 9AM at 570 W. Monroe.

McDonald’s Strike:

The week after Black Friday, McDonald’s workers will also be going on strike. We will be inviting people to attend a solidarity rally on Dec.4th. Details will be shared when we have it.

Hello members!

As coalition partners in Raise Illinois, the group that has been organizing for a statewide minimum wage of $10/hour, we are in an important position to continue on the momentum following the midterm elections, where 67% of voters, over 2 million people in all parts of the state, voted to say that we need a higher wage in Illinois.

But our work isn’t over yet: now we need lawmakers in Springfield to hear our voices and pass a bill to #RaiseTheWage!  The good news: they go back for what’s called “veto session” this week, and could take up the minimum wage bill during this session.  We need to keep our grassroots power going strong! We need our lawmakers to hear from us, and we need them to know that we’re demanding action. Not next session. Not next year. We need a higher minimum wage now.

Today there were press conferences around the state urging legislators to get this passed in the coming weeks during the veto session.  And this Thursday, November 20th, hundreds of minimum wage supporters will travel to Springfield for a 10:30 rally and lobby day.  Buses are leaving from several locations in the Chicago area and select cities around the state.  For information on any of these activities, contact Keron Blair (Keron@RaiseIllinoisAction.com) or Ken Snyder (Ken@RaiseIllinoisAction.com).

Even if you can’t go to Springfield Thursday, sign on to this petition to show your support for the raised minimum wage and urge legislators to vote for a higher minimum wage now.  And, for added effect, share it on Facebook and Twitter so your friends can sign on too. Together, we’ll push our lawmakers to pass this bill and provide dignity and decency to millions of working people in our state.

Not sure what to say? Here are some ideas for social posts to raise awareness on your Facebook and Twitter:

“Add your name and tell our legislators to #RaiseTheWage in veto session! http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/illinois-general-assembly-1

“Working families can’t wait. The General Assembly convenes next week. Tell them to #RaiseTheWage now! http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/illinois-general-assembly-1

“Sign the petition: IL General Assembly, #RaiseTheWage right now! Working people can’t afford to wait any longer! http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/illinois-general-assembly-1

Let me know if you have questions or want to get involved.

In solidarity,
Jes Cook, GEO Outreach Chair

James Kilgore was recently dismissed from the faculty position he held for five years at the Center for African Studies at UIUC. Why? Because an alumnus resurrected James’ old criminal conviction apropos of nothing and the News-Gazette, Urbana’s newspaper, was all too eager to report (for the second time!) on another “radical elite” working for UIUC. (James was convicted for an incident involving a radical left group in the 1970s.) James, who served his time, was completely transparent with UIUC about his background throughout the hiring process and during the course of his employment. James’s colleagues in the Center for African Studies, who recognize his value to the campus as a teacher, scholar, and activist, opposed the decision taken by the Wise administration. This is another example of UIUC administrators buckling under public pressure and unfairly terminating their employment contracts with faculty!
James’s case has been in process since the spring semester. The Board of Trustees will likely take a vote on his case during their upcoming meeting, this Thursday, November 13, in Student Center West (Rooms B & C). James has asked his supporters to be there during the Public Comment section at 11:30 AM. Please join us in supporting James and all University of Illinois employees with prior, irrelevant criminal convictions. Following the Salaita decision, it’s even more important that we stand up for the employment rights of all U of I employees. (As long as we do so civilly, of course.)
If you are able to attend Thursday morning, shoot Amy Livingston (our staff organizer, who brought this case to our attention in the spring) at staff@uic-geo.net or just show up. Hope to see many of you there!

There are a number of labor actions either happening or ongoing this week. We are also nearing the election, which will have serious consequences on Illinois unions. Here’s a brief list of what’s happening and where you can learn more

UIC Nurses on Strike

The INA reached a tentative agreement with the University last night, so no picket lines today!

On Tuesday, at 7AM UIC nurses will hold a one-day strike. They are in protracted negotiations with the university over layoffs, union protection for flex-time personnel, and annual wages. They will have picket lines at 1740 W. Taylor from 7AM Tuesday until 6:59AM Wednesday morning. Please stop by and show your support.

Waukegan Teachers’ Strike

The Waukegan Teachers have been out on strike for 10 days now! Please support them by either participating in the Twitter Storm (Monday, 7-9PM, #WaukeganStrong) or by swinging up north and saying hello. Despite a budget surplus, administrators have rejected the union’s requests for wage increases and won’t meet the teachers at the bargaining table. 10 days is long time for teachers and students to be out of school; we need to show the teachers we support them.

Gubernatorial Election

Election day is November 4th! The IFT (our parent union) had endorsed incumbent Pat Quinn, in large part because of Bruce Rauner’s desire to do away with public employee unions and move to more privatized education. If you are interested in phone banking, doing door-to-door visits, or otherwise helping IFT get out the word about Rauner, please contact out staff at geo@uic-geo.net. There’s more information about the walks and phone banks here. Raise Illinois, the group fighting to increase minimum wage statewide, is offering paid election day positions. Election day canvassers will go to unlikely voters’ doors and convince them to vote. Hours are 9AM – 7PM, and canvassers will be paid $100 for the day. For more information, contact Erik Martinez at Erik@RaiseIllinoisAction.com.

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The UIC Graduate Employees Organization (Local 6297, IFT/AFT, AFL-CIO) calls on the Waukegan Board of Education to negotiate in good faith with the Waukegan Teachers’ Council to come to a quick resolution of their on-going contract negotiations. Waukegan teachers have been without a contract since June and this is the fourth year in a row that teachers have started the school year without a contract. The district has a budget surplus, yet has denied teachers salary increases while demanding that they work more, cut their health care benefits, and eliminated clear procedures for teacher evaluation. How does the Board and Superintendent expect to settle a contract when they refuse to meet the teachers at the bargaining table? As president of the Lake County Federation of Teachers, Mike McGue states, “All these things always boil down to one thing: Respect.”


We are in solidarity with our union brothers and sisters in the Waukegan Teachers’ Council as they stand everyday on the picket line to fight for better working and learning conditions in Waukegan schools. Respect teachers! Respect workers! Fair Contract Now!

GEO members who want to join in actions, gatherings, and workshops in Ferguson, MO this weekend and contribute to the fight for justice for Mike Brown and larger fight for racial justice, go to http://fergusonoctober.com/ for information and for carpooling/housing information.
The AFL-CIO is sponsoring two buses of labor activists to go down the Ferguson for the day on Saturday, leaving early in the morning and returning later that night. If you can only make it down for one day, please contact Jocelyn Woodards at the AFL-CIO, at jwoodards@aflcio.org, or click here to reserve a spot on one of their buses.
Any questions? Contact our Outreach Committee chair Jes Cook at jesdcook@gmail.com

Hourly RA position in fMRI and Neuroscience Research at the University of Illinois, Chicago. An hourly Research Assistant position (approximately 10-15 hours a week) is available at the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, Dept. of Psychiatry, UIC. Bachelor’s Degree preferred in computer science or a related discipline, neuroscience or psychology. Graduate students, advanced or Honors level undergraduates will be considered. Experience in basic Linux programming preferred. Excellent Statistics knowledge and advanced/intermediate programming skills are a must. Experience with fMRI research and analyses is a plus. For fullest consideration, please send e-mail and resume to AM Passarotti, PhD, apassarotti@psych.uic.edu and indicate earliest start date.

We have just received word that, on advice from his counsel, Professor Salaita will not be speaking at UIC. Although we regret we won’t be able to support him in person, the GEO stands in solidarity with Professor Salaita. His case has revealed our University’s failure to abide by the standards of academic freedom and shared governance foundational to higher education.

Professor Salaita has several other speaking events in the Chicago area through out the week so if you’re interested, here are the following times and places:

** Monday, October 6 – Northwestern University’s Evanston campus, 5 PM, Harris Hall, Room 107 (Harris Hall is the building nearest to the northeast corner of Sheridan Road and Chicago Avenue). https://www.facebook.com/events/830023617042514/

** Tuesday, October 7 – University of Chicago, 5:30 PM at the International House, Assembly Hall, 1414 E. 59th Street. With remarks by grassroots West Bank activist Basem Tamimi and the Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah. https://www.facebook.com/events/286012651602655/

** Wednesday, October 8 – Columbia College, 7 PM, 600 S. Michigan Ave, Room 101, Ferguson Lecture Hall. Joining Prof. Salaita will be Professors Iymen Chehade, and Dr. Peter Kirstein! https://www.facebook.com/events/1497447710508123/

** Thursday, October 9 – DePaul University, 4 PM, O’Connell Hall Rm 360 (1036 W. Belden Ave). https://www.facebook.com/events/750534571685970/