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

The University recently mailed a letter entitled “Health Insurance Marketplace Coverage Options and State of Illinois Employee Health Coverage” to all University employees, which includes Graduate Assistants and Teaching Assistants. The purpose of the letter is mainly to address the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and provide information for finding affordable health care coverage through the new Health Insurance Marketplace that has been set up.

If you are enrolled in Campus Care, you are considered to have health insurance under the new act and as such won’t be penalized for not having insurance.

If you are interested to know whether any other coverage options are available to you, you can visit www.HealthCare.gov. This site has a questionnaire that you can fill out to determine if you’re eligible for anything in the “marketplace”.

One important item all GEO members should be aware of is that if you use an insurance provider other than Campus Care, you are not eligible for the University contribution to the Campus Care premium as outlined in the GEO contract.

If any GEO members looked into the Health Insurance Marketplace, it would be great to hear back from you regarding what you discovered. You can email us at geo@uic-geo.net.