For Immediate Release
Contact: Jessi Holzman
Telephone: 224-645-9700

UIC GRAD EMPLOYEES RAMP UP THE PRESSURE

“WORK WITH US! DON’T MAKE US STRIKE!”

Chicago— At 1:30pm on Wednesday, March 13th, the Graduate Employees’ Organization, a labor union representing graduate student employees at UIC, will hold their second rally in the UIC Quad as a response to the University’s continuous delay in negotiations and unfair contract proposals.
At the beginning of the bargaining session on Thursday, March 7th, both parties agreed that the contract could be settled that day. The GEO has made significant movement on their position, an indication that they are serious about settling; the University has not reciprocated and has moved little from their original position. The University’s first proposal offered a mere $75 increase to the annual minimum income earned, but has refused to budge on important issues such as fees, tuition differentials, prescription drug benefits, or the No Strike clause. The University’s second proposal moved even less.
The University’s team has resorted to personal attacks and false accusations about GEO staff and members. These accusations are patently false. GEO Co-President Matt Bourque says, “We have come to the table repeatedly, willing to bargain and make substantial movement in an effort to settle a fair contract. The University has made false accusations that we have proposed extensive changes to the contract but the many changes were not substantive and were settled during the first months of bargaining.”
The University has repeatedly stalled negotiations by being unavailable to meet regularly, canceling multiple sessions, and arriving unprepared when they do show up. And now, the University cancelled again, less than 24 hours after scheduling a bargaining session for Thursday, March 21.
Graduate employees have become extremely frustrated with the University’s failure to meet them at the bargaining table. “Negotiation doesn’t work if you don’t talk. We can sit quietly and ignore each other once the contract is settled. Right now we need and we demand that the University meet with us before spring break to settle this contract”, says Edgar A. Bering IV, Teaching Assistant in Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science.
2013_3_Rally
For more information on the GEO’s rally “Work With Us! Don’t Make Us Strike” and contract negotiations visit https://www.facebook.com/uicgeo andhttp://uic-geo.net/mainsite/

UIC Graduate Employees Make Their Voices Heard

Chicago— At noon on Tuesday, February 26th, the Graduate Employees’ Organization, a labor union representing graduate student employees at UIC, called their members to action. Graduate employees, faculty, students and community supporters showed their solidarity- amidst blistering winds and snow blown faces- and demanded that the University present their graduate employees with a fair contract.

At noon, more than seventy supporters gathered to protest the University unfair treatment of their graduate employees. Currently, graduate employees are earning 140% above the federal poverty line, which economically situates them between “very poor” and “poor”.

“We are not doing this for our own selfish motives, we want to improve UIC. That will only happen if the
UIC administration respects us and we respect each other. We deserve better wages and we deserve to be able to afford to pay our tuition. A lot of undergraduates aren’t able to pay their tuition here and we’re not either,” said Piere Washington a teaching assistant in the Sociology Department.

The primary points of contention include high healthcare premiums, low wages, and increasing fees.The health insurance option that the university offers its graduate employees, for a fee, is not a licensed insurance company and thus its policy holders are not afforded the same protections and rights under Illinois law as licensed insurance holders. Karen Cralli, a Teaching Assistant in the Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies was forced by UIC’s unlicensed insurance company, Campus Care, to make a choice: massive medical debt or death.

“Campus Care does not cover the majority of medically necessary, life-sustaining treatment for my blood disorder. When Campus Care put me in a position to choose between death and debt, I chose debt. No one should ever be forced to make that choice… Graduate employees deserve the same choices as other UIC employees—we should have the option to enroll in an insurance plan that won’t force us to choose between debt and death,” says Cralli.

The Graduate Employee Organization will be back at the bargaining table with the University on
Thursday, March 7th for an all-day bargaining session.

For more information on the GEO’s bargaining session and contract negotiations visit https://
www.facebook.com/uicgeo and http://uic-geo.net/mainsite/

 

Aaron Finley SnowPiere WashingtonWinter RallyWinter Rally 2

UIC Graduate Employees Show Their Strength

Chicago— At noon on Tuesday, February 26th, the Graduate Employees’ Organization, a labor union representing graduate student employees at UIC, will be rallying in the UIC Quad urging the administration to be more reasonable at the bargaining table.

Graduate employees have been without a contract for the past six months and this has resulted in a wage freeze for their approximately 1,500 members. The primary points of contention include high healthcare premiums, low wages, and increasing fees. Graduate employees have demanded that their compensation match UIC’s own figure of the annual cost of living, $17,958, and the administration’s proposals have thus far fallen more than three thousand dollars below this figure.

“Rally for Graduate Employee Rights” will continue the momentum from the graduate employees’ previous event, “Show Us Some Love UIC” where graduate employees delivered hundreds of Valentine’s Day messages to the chancellor in the effort to get the Administration to be more reasonable at the bargaining table.

“UIC calls itself a world class university. But when it comes to employee compensation, benefits, and working conditions, UIC is anything but world class,” says Kevin Carey, a PhD candidate in the department of English. Grad employees find it particularly egregious that UIC has dramatically increased the salaries of many administrators already receiving very high salaries. UIC’s chancellor, for example, received a 10% raise this year, bringing her salary to $411,752.11 while grad employees receive wages well below the cost of living for Chicago and often pay thousands of dollars in fees each semester.

“UIC is a public university, and education should be its primary aim. This does not square well with the fact that those working in classrooms are receiving less than a living wage while administrative staff are drawing exorbitant salaries. UIC’s priorities are backwards,” says Greg Sutliff, a teaching assistant in the Philosophy department.

Throughout the course of negotiations, members of the union have emphasized that their work is essential to the functioning of the university. “Teaching assistants are responsible for a large amount of the undergraduate teaching at UIC, and other graduate assistants perform vital administrative duties,” says Jes Cook, a teaching assistant in the Sociology department. “UIC works because we do.”

For more information on the GEO’s “Rally for Graduate Employee Rights” and contract negotiations visit https://www.facebook.com/uicgeo and http://uic-geo.net/mainsite/