The members of GEO received a major message of support yesterday from none other than Dr. Cornel West, well-known social justice activist, author, and professor. He says:

“I wholeheartedly support my brothers and sisters of the UIC GEO! Stay strong and stand tall!
Cornel West”

Thanks, Dr. West, for the message of solidarity!
Dr. WEst

During the last mediation session, the University implied they are getting close to their last, best, and final offer. Unfortunately, the University has been making very little movement in their proposals: they’ve proposed a minimum wage of $15,190 (the current minimum is $14,565), a four-year contract, and no additional fees waived other than what is currently waived.
It’s incredibly important to have member input as we’re getting to the very final sessions since we may be tentatively agreeing to the final proposals or, if their last offer is unacceptable to the membership, we will need to enact contingency plans and may hold an emergency General Membership Meeting the day after the session.
Check back to the Facebook page ( and Twitter (@uicgeo) for updates from the bargaining room!

You can also RSVP to the Facebook event here:

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

The Steering Committee voted unanimously to endorse Ponnu Padiyara for Student Trustee.  With her experience on the Undergraduate Student Council as well as the Student Fee Advisory Committee, she has dealt with a wide variety of issues that are important to GEO members, including Campus Care and increased health care coverage for members.  As Student Trustee, she will work to have GEO voices heard at trustee meetings, increase the clarity of Tuition Differential proposals, and work to improve Campus Care as well.  The election for Student Trustee is March 12th and 13th, so please consider voting for Ponnu Padiyara.  You can vote online at:

Ponnu Padiyara

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



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.
For more information on the GEO’s rally “Work With Us! Don’t Make Us Strike” and contract negotiations visit and