NEXT BARGAINING SESSION MONDAY, APRIL 22, SSB CONFERENCE ROOM C
For Immediate Release: UIC GEO Calls for a Strike Authorization Vote
April 18, 2013
Last night at the General Membership Meeting, the GEO voted to begin a Strike Authorization Vote. If passed, the vote would authorize an elected Strike Committee to call for a strike of Teaching and Graduate Assistants at UIC. The vote was called after almost a year of contract negotiations with the University during which the GEO sought to address important issues such as wages, health care, tuition differentials, and fees—issues that have a direct impact on the viability of pursuing graduate education at UIC. We voted to proceed with the Strike Authorization Vote because the University has been unwilling to address our concerns regarding the disparity between the high cost of living in Chicago and the low wages graduate workers earn, and the unchecked tuition differentials that depress those wages even more. The GEO believes that all workers deserve a living wage.
The University has the money to pay its workers a living wage. We reject the disproportionate increases in upper level administrators’ salaries while tuition and class sizes increase and wages and positions for maintenance, office staff, faculty, and graduate workers decrease. We reject the University’s attack on our democracy’s most precious resource—an equitable and accessible public education system. Our fight at UIC is connected to an attempt to halt the continued disinvestment of cities and citizens across the country carried out through an attack on workers and the vital public institutions for which they work. We are rising up in solidarity to demand equitable wages, access to affordable health care, and transparency in the administration of this public institution in order to make education accessible to all. We are proceeding with the Strike Authorization Vote because we believe that UIC can be more than it is—we are fighting for UIC, for what it can be.
We are rising in solidarity with workers everywhere. We are rising in solidarity for graduate workers at UIC and we demand a fair contract now!
UIC Graduate Employees Organization, AFT local 6297, AFL-CIO
To: Indiana University Students, Staff, and Faculty
The UIC GEO stands in solidarity with the IU students, staff and faculty in their pursuit of fair and equal treatment under University guidelines. It has come to the attention of the UIC GEO that individuals at IU have come together to fight for educational justice, a struggle similar to that which we are currently enduring. UIC GEO is currently in its 11th month of bargaining for a new contract. Graduate Employees are currently paid a minimum of about $14,500, even though the administration estimates the cost of living is around $17,900. The University has over $300 million in unrestricted funds, yet will not even agree to an annual cost of living adjustment. We have recently passed an intent to strike vote, almost unanimously, and are now making plans for a strike.
The UIC GEO would like to applaud those at IU who work toward strengthening public education and its access, especially for students of color. We would also like to add that we are paying close attention to the administration’s response to movements on your campus. We find courage and strength in our struggle through your struggle with IU administration on your demands. Please know that we support
your upcoming strike.
University of Illinois at Chicago Graduate Employee Organization
The members of UIC United Faculty Local 6456 stand in solidarity with the
members of the UIC Graduate Employees Organization Local 6297 as they
fight for a fair contract. We demand that the University recognizes the
vital work that graduate assistants perform on campus and provide a
reasonable proposal with a living wage.
The University’s financial aid office estimates that the cost of living in
Chicago is $17,958. However, the minimum wage for a graduate
employee is $14,565. TAs and GAs make $3,300 less than a living wage
and, as such, live 124% below the poverty level. The added expense of
rising tuition differentials and fees means that many TAs and GAs live on
even less than the minimum. According to an independent analysis of
University finances by Howard Bunsis, Professor of Accounting at Eastern
Michigan University, UIC has accumulated approximately $300 million in
unrestricted funds. By dedicating less than one percent of those funds to
graduate employees’ wages, the University could pay GAs and TAs a
Providing graduate employees a living wage means not only improving
their quality of life, but also creating working conditions that will allow
the University to thrive. Ultimately, the University claims to be a world
class institution, but its success is dependent on its educators, staff, and
students. If it continues to alienate those who are integral to its mission
through low wages and high fees, how can it claim to reach its goals?
GEO’s fight is about more than simply a living wage; union members are
fighting for their students, their university, and the future of public
We as faculty members recognize the important roles that GAs and TAs
perform at UIC and demand that the University provide them with a fair
contract. We echo the GEO’s theme- UIC works because we do.
UIC United Faculty Executive Board and Representative Assembly
Chicago, IL- On Friday, April 5th, the 1,500 member Graduate Employee’s Organization at the University of Illinois at Chicago, a labor union representing graduate student employees at UIC, filed a notice of intent to strike with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board after ten months of acrimonious, sometimes explosive, bargaining. The nearly unanimous vote authorizing this move came after a packed meeting of the GEO’s general membership, in response to an inflammatory contract proposal by the administration that included provisions inhibiting GEO members from participating in labor demonstrations, and refusing to yield on the university’s practice of charging unlimited tuition differentials against student workers. Currently the graduate student workers at UIC, work for less than 15k dollars, annually, at a school where the average administrator earns a six figure salary.
The GEO says that unless the administration resumes negotiations in earnest the 1,500 teaching and graduate assistants will strike, interrupting undergraduate classes across the campus. The GEO contract technically expired in August and since then the administration’s bargaining team has persistently cancelled meetings with the GEO, even after the GEO brought in a mediator to help facilitate good faith bargaining. Despite the higher costs of living in Chicago, most UIC graduate workers earn less in comparable pay than their counterparts at the Urbana Champaign campus, and significantly less than the 17k dollars that the UIC department of financial aid estimates is the minimum cost of living for graduate students in Chicago.
For more information on the GEO’s contract negotiations and current events visit: http://uic-geo.net/mainsite/
The Intent to Strike vote passed almost unanimously at tonight’s general membership meeting. This means that GEO will file a notice of intent to strike with the state labor board tomorrow. The membership also elected a strike committee, who will present one or more strike plans at the next GMM.
Meanwhile, organizing for a possible strike continues tomorrow at an emergency Stewards’ Council meeting at 1:30pm at the GEO office (815 W. Van Buren, Suite 203; use the Halsted entrance). All Stewards are strongly encouraged to attend and all GEO members are welcome.