The Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) is the union representing over 1500 Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants at UIC. We have been negotiating a new labor contract with University administration since March 1, 2018.

As of Tuesday, March 19th we have gone on strike and will continue to do so until we settle a fair contract.

This means that everyone—whether or not they voted for the strike—should stop performing all labor for which they are paid (teaching, grading, office and lab hours, etc.) for the duration of the strike, unless they want to actively undermine the strike and their co-workers. We also ask that everyone come out on the picket lines when they would normally be working (teaching, holding office hours, etc.), at minimum. The more shifts you can do, the better. We want you to know that your supervisors cannot retaliate against you for participating in the strike—it is illegal for them to do so, and they will want to avoid any semblance of retaliation in order to avoid a lawsuit. Being on the picket lines gives the fullest protection, because other strikers can attest that you participated in the strike, which means GEO will be able to make a case that unfair treatment was an act of retaliation should a supervisor unwisely choose to do something unusual.

Because graduate employees don’t have full work schedules, our picket lines will be “thinner” than in traditional strikes. This is why it is extra important that you come out for your picket shift each week until the strike ends. We will make the lines as fun as possible: at times talking, chanting, marching, drumming.   Here is everything you need to know about logistics and joining us in solidarity.

<p”>Online donations can be made to our strike fund at https://bit.ly/2XsaH1m.


Join us for:
  • Picketing: We will be on the picket lines from 8:50am-4:00pm on M/W/F, and 9:20am-4:00pm on T/TH, starting on Tuesday, March 19th and lasting until we settle the contract. The picket line shifts you sign up for are your weekly commitment until the strike ends, but you can change shifts if needed.
  • Rally: 12:00pm – 12:30pm on Wednesday, March 20: The rally will be held on the quad (the concrete area behind Student Center East). Speakers will include GEO leaders, faculty union leaders, and campus workers and community organizations.
  • Small actions during Spring Break, March 25-29: TBA later. We will continue to be on strike during Spring Break. We will not be holding our regular picket lines then as many people will be out of town, but will be holding some smaller actions and roving pickets which those who are around can participate in. We will be back on the regular picket lines starting the Monday after Spring Break (Monday, April 1).

Logistics:

  • Picketing will be outside of most buildings where classes are taught. This includes UH, BSB, SEL, SES, Grant/Douglas/Lincoln, Taft/Burnham/Adams, LC A, LC B, LC C, LC D, LC E, LC F, East Campus Library, ERF, Stevenson, ETMSW, Public Health, and MBRB.
  • We will be meeting in the quad at the start of every shift, and from there picketers will be assigned to buildings. For those unfamiliar with the area, there is easy access to the quad through Student Center East at 750 South Halsted. Enter the east side of the building, walk through to the west side, and you’ll be on the quad. There is parking across Halsted in the Taylor Street Garage (access via Taylor and Polk, off Halsted). Student Center East is also 1 block south of the UIC/Halsted Blue Line stop (take the far east exit).
  • West Campus picketers will have Public Health as a center. Go to the SPHPI building at 1603 W. Taylor Street. That’s where you’ll get your signs and further directions, though you might move to MBRB across the street.
  • Strike headquarters and designated warming station will be at Latino Cultural Center (in Lecture Center B) during the day. Water, coffee, and women’s restrooms will be available from 9:00-4:00 at Latino Cultural Center for those taking breaks from picketing. Men’s restrooms will be available in Student Center East. Be sure to use these facilities and not the ones in buildings we are picketing.
  • If you get lost or have questions, call Dawn Tefft at 414-962-3443 or Veronica Shepp at 661-808-5889.

Donations:

Check donations can be sent to the GEO office at 815 W Van Buren, Suite 203, Chicago, IL 60607.

Messages of support and other forms of support:

Campus workers who must cross the picket line to work—faculty, staff, and RAs—can make a small paper sign that says “I Support GEO” to show as they are crossing the line.

If you want to write a public statement of support to be published on our website, email it to communications@uic-geo.net.

You can email Chancellor Michael Amiridis at chancellor@uic.edu imploring the administration to end the strike and give us the fair contract that we deserve.

A document for those who want to help make our strike accessible for those with access needs.

Twitter messages of support can be tweeted with the hashtags #WeNeedGEO #WeSeeUIC #FairContractNow #uicUnionPower

As we near our strike, our undergraduate students ask us: How can we help?

The most direct way is to tell the university administration that the work of their TAs and GAs is really important to them, and that they support the efforts of GEO to reach agreement on livable working conditions. Below is a sample email, which we encourage all undergraduate students to send to the Chancellor of UIC, Michael Amridis, who holds the highest position in the UIC administration. Clicking this link here will initiate your default email client to compose an email with the same text.

Dear Chancellor Amridis,

I am writing to ask you to settle the contract with the UIC TA and GA union as soon as possible. Their work is invaluable to me as an undergraduate at UIC, and I am surprised and upset that they have been negotiating with you for more than a year, and you refuse to provide them proper living and working conditions. You still have not offered them a living wage or adequate healthcare, you are making them pay thousands in fees to work at the university, and you refuse to provide them clear policies about who gets jobs each semester so they can be free from fear of retaliation. They are the reason why your university works so well – you should treat them better.

If they go on strike, I will only have you to blame for restricting my access to an education.

Feel free to forward this post to undergrads in your classes! The more voices are heard, the higher the chance of a positive outcome.