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GEO at UIC statement in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation.

The University of Illinois at Chicago Graduate Employees Organization (UIC-GEO), IFT/AFT AFL-CIO Local 6297 stands in firm solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, and the over 200 other Indigenous Nations, that oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). It is our firmly held belief that the sovereignty and governance of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation land comes from, and can only be decided by, the people of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation.

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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!

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!

The Graduate Employees Organization, Local 6297, AFT-IFT, is deeply dismayed to learn of the horrifying racial discrimination that Chuck Conner, a fellow University of Illinois-Chicago employee, has faced on the job. All workers on campus deserve safe, fair working conditions, and a just and swift grievance process. It is utterly unacceptable that Mr. Conner has continued to face discrimination and bullying on the job in spite of an ongoing UIC investigation. We urge the University to expedite its investigation and bring Mr. Conner’s harassers to justice.

We are also disturbed to learn of the University of Illinois- Urbana-Champaign’s rescinding of a job offer letter to a professor, Steven Salaita, on the basis of his personal politics. Academic freedom is vital to the well-being of the university. In silencing a voice it disagreed with, UIUC compromised the quality of academic discourse and scholarship on its campus.

These are but two of many cases that highlight the dysfunction within the University of Illinois system. For U of I administrators, PR optics take precedence over academic freedom, and the well-being of employees and their workplace safety is hardly a priority.  We are in dismay that the University administration would stand idly by and allow for, and support, this assault on academic freedom.

In Solidarity,

The UIC Graduate Employees Organization Steering Committee

Yesterday, April 11th, our union brothers and sisters in Service Employees International United (SEIU) Local 73 at UIC officially filed a notice of their Intent to Strike. They have been working without a contract for almost two years yet the University has constantly stalled negotiations and have bargained unprofessionally. We are calling on all GEO members to stand in solidarity with SEIU as they fight for a fair contract.

SEIU represents the most underpaid workers on campus yet the University is offering them no raises after the top 28 University of Illinois administrators received an average 5.86 percent wage increase over the last two years on top of their already six figure salaries. The work of the clerical, technical, and maintenance workers is vital to the day-to-day operations of the University and its hospital. Without them, there would be no clean classrooms or facilities for faculty and teaching assistants to teach in, less support for patient care in the hospitals, and far less efficiency in the administrative offices across campus. UIC will not be a “World Class University” as long as it continues to depress the wages of the workers who are integral to the University’s basic functions while bloating the salaries of redundant administrators at the top.

Recently, the University of Illinois has adopted a more aggressive stance towards unions on campuses, spending increasing amounts on anti-union lawyers. Workers and unions across the country are standing up–from the University of California grad employee strike to the research assistants organizing in Michigan and the hospital workers now on strike at John Hopkins University–and fighting corporatization and austerity measures in higher education that only serve to undermine the strength of the university. But we are strong when we stand together, when we stand up for public higher education. UIC works because we—the students, faculty, and workers—do!

In solidarity,

Steering Committee
Graduate Employees’ Organization
University of Illinois at Chicago
Local 6297 IFT-AFT, AFL-CIO
www.uic-geo.net

Marissa Baker, Co-President
Gina Gemmel, Co-President
Lydia Hou, Secretary
Daniel Ingebretson, Treasurer
Davis Smith-Brecheisen, Co-Communications Chair
Jesse Holzman, Co-Communications Chair
Alyssa Greenberg, Grievance Chair
Jes Cook, Outreach Chair
Jen Phillis, Co-Chief Steward
Edgar Bering, Co-Chief Steward

President Janet Napolitano
University of California
Office of the President
1111 Franklin Street
Oakland, CA 94607

April 7, 2014

Dear President Napolitano,

The University of Illinois at Chicago Graduate Employees Organization (UIC GEO) is writing on behalf of its 1500 members to demand that you end the continuous Unfair Labor Practices against the workers of United Auto Workers Local 2865 and respect their collective bargaining agreement.

It is our understanding that the UC administration has been unwilling to bargain over key aspects of members’ employment, including class size and the number of terms (quarters, semesters) employees are able to work. These are such basic issues of working conditions and require zero monetary concerns for the university, so we do not see any insurmountable hurdles to overcome for including these in the contract. Ultimately, it is your role as an employer to provide job and economic security for your employees, and you can provide that by ending the illegal intimidation against graduate workers, and negotiate issues such as class size and the number of terms of employment. These workers are an integral part of the university’s function and deserve your respect both in the process of negotiations and their working conditions.

Everyone involved shares an interest in the quality of education and employment in the UC system, and you have the power to demonstrate that you value the contributing members of your institution by prioritizing their needs at these basic levels by providing them with fair working conditions at your institution.

On behalf of UIC GEO, we strongly urge you to return to the bargaining table and take the necessary steps to negotiate a fair contract.

In Solidarity,

The Members of UIC Graduate Employees Organization

November 22, 2013

Will County Board,

The University of Illinois at Chicago Graduate Employees Organization (UIC GEO) is writing on behalf of its 1,500 members to demand that you respect the collective bargaining process and immediately reach an agreement with AFSCME Local 1028.

It is our understanding that Will County Board has engaged in bargaining that refuses to offer fair wages and health benefits package. The Board continues to insist that union members receive only a minor increase in pay while health care costs for the members will double. After four years with no pay increase, the members AFSCME Local 1028 deserve a fair contract that will not functionally lower their standard of living.

Everyone involved in bargaining recognizes the importance of the local employees to the day-to-day operations of the county: AFSCME Local represents more than 1,200 employees throughout the county including the court system, health department, and county sheriff. It is time for the board to recognize the work the employees perform by settling a fair contract.

On behalf of UIC GEO, we strongly urge you to take the necessary steps to negotiate with county employees. The GEO commits its support to AFSCME Local 1028 in their effort to negotiate a fair contract.

In Solidarity,

The Steering Committee of the Graduate Employees Organization

October 16, 2013

Dear Chancellor Allen-Meares and the Board of Trustees,

The University of Illinois at Chicago Graduate Employees Organization (UIC GEO) is writing on behalf of its 1,500 members to demand that you respect the collective bargaining process and immediately reach an agreement with the United Faculty Local 6456.

It is our understanding that the UIC administration has engaged in bargaining that has been slow and unprofessional. The administration continues to ignore requests for increased wages for all faculty and multi-year contracts for non-tenure track faculty. The total wage increases being requested for tenure track and non-tenure track faculty represent a relatively small cost to university. And although the administration likes to argue that UIC cannot afford to pay its faculty and staff a fair wage, it is widely known that the university currently has $480 million of unrestricted reserves and $734 million in total reserves. As such, we do not see any reason their salary and contract demands should not be met. Moreover, the request for multi-year contracts for non-tenure track faculty is essential to the well being of both educators and students at UIC.

In addition to these demands, UF has called for increased control of the curriculum. These demands for shared governance strike at the heart of UIC’s mission as a university committed to learning that fosters scholarship that responds to the increasing diversity of the United States. Value the contributing members of your institution by providing them with a stake in the curriculum through the faculty senate.

Everyone involved in bargaining shares an interest in the quality of education and employment at UIC and you have the power to demonstrate that you take seriously the mission of UIC as a public research university in a democratic society by giving the United Faculty the contract they deserve.

On behalf of UIC GEO, we strongly urge you to take the necessary steps to negotiate with United Faculty. The GEO intends to leverage the full resources of the union to support the United Faculty in their effort to negotiate a proper contract.

In Solidarity,

The Steering Committee of the Graduate Employees Organization

March 12, 2013

 

Dear Chancellor Wise and the Board of Trustees,

 

The University of Illinois at Chicago Graduate Employees Organization (UIC GEO) is writing on behalf of its 1500 members to demand that you respect the collective bargaining process and immediately reach an agreement with Service Employees International United Local 73 (SEIU).

It is our understanding that the UIUC administration has engaged in bargaining that has been slow and unprofessional.  Considering that SEIU has been without a contract since July 2012, we are very skeptical of your arguments that fair wages are simply unacceptable and unreasonable.  While your administration typically argues that UIUC has no money, there have been Board of Trustees reports saying that the university has a $3 million reserve fund and, as such, we do not see any insurmountable hurdles to overcome for a fair contract.  Ultimately, it is your role as an employer to provide job and economic security for your employees, and you can provide that by settling a contract now with SEIU. They are an integral part of the university’s function and deserve your respect both in the process of negotiations and their working conditions.

Everyone involved shares an interest in the quality of education and employment at UIUC, and you have the power to demonstrate that you value the contributing members of your institution by prioritizing their needs at these basic levels of providing them with fair wages at your institution.

On behalf of UIC GEO, we strongly urge you to return to the bargaining table and take the necessary steps to negotiate a proper contract.

In Solidarity,

 

The Member of UIC Graduate Employees Organization