Press Releases

For Immediate Release: UIC GEO Calls for a Strike Authorization Vote

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

 

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: IMPENDING STRIKE PLANNED BY UIC GRADUATE UNION

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/

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For Immediate Release: UIC Grad Employees Ramp Up the Pressure: “Work With Us! Don’t Make Us Strike!”

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

UIC GRAD EMPLOYEES RAMP UP THE PRESSURE

“WORK WITH US! DON’T MAKE US STRIKE!”

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.
2013_3_Rally
For more information on the GEO’s rally “Work With Us! Don’t Make Us Strike” and contract negotiations visit https://www.facebook.com/uicgeo andhttp://uic-geo.net/mainsite/

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: UIC Graduate Employees Make Their Voices Heard

UIC Graduate Employees Make Their Voices Heard

Chicago— At noon on Tuesday, February 26th, the Graduate Employees’ Organization, a labor union representing graduate student employees at UIC, called their members to action. Graduate employees, faculty, students and community supporters showed their solidarity- amidst blistering winds and snow blown faces- and demanded that the University present their graduate employees with a fair contract.

At noon, more than seventy supporters gathered to protest the University unfair treatment of their graduate employees. Currently, graduate employees are earning 140% above the federal poverty line, which economically situates them between “very poor” and “poor”.

“We are not doing this for our own selfish motives, we want to improve UIC. That will only happen if the
UIC administration respects us and we respect each other. We deserve better wages and we deserve to be able to afford to pay our tuition. A lot of undergraduates aren’t able to pay their tuition here and we’re not either,” said Piere Washington a teaching assistant in the Sociology Department.

The primary points of contention include high healthcare premiums, low wages, and increasing fees.The health insurance option that the university offers its graduate employees, for a fee, is not a licensed insurance company and thus its policy holders are not afforded the same protections and rights under Illinois law as licensed insurance holders. Karen Cralli, a Teaching Assistant in the Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies was forced by UIC’s unlicensed insurance company, Campus Care, to make a choice: massive medical debt or death.

“Campus Care does not cover the majority of medically necessary, life-sustaining treatment for my blood disorder. When Campus Care put me in a position to choose between death and debt, I chose debt. No one should ever be forced to make that choice… Graduate employees deserve the same choices as other UIC employees—we should have the option to enroll in an insurance plan that won’t force us to choose between debt and death,” says Cralli.

During the rally speaker Aaron Finley, a teaching assistant in the English Department and steward for the GEO, called his fellow graduate employees to action stating, “ Our union is fifteen hundred members strong and these are numbers the university cannot ignore or do without. UIC works because we do…If you or your colleagues are waiting until the time has come to show the university that you demand a fair contract, that time is right now! We cannot let these negotiations drag on until it is too late. The time has come to show our strength and our unity. The time has come to let the administration know that we stand as one in our demands; that we will neither quietly nor complacently accept this treatment any longer.”

The Graduate Employee Organization will be back at the bargaining table with the University on
Thursday, March 7th for an all-day bargaining session.

For more information on the GEO’s bargaining session and contract negotiations visit https://
www.facebook.com/uicgeo and http://uic-geo.net/mainsite/

 

Aaron Finley SnowPiere WashingtonWinter RallyWinter Rally 2

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: UIC Graduate Employees Show Their Strength

UIC Graduate Employees Show Their Strength

Chicago— At noon on Tuesday, February 26th, the Graduate Employees’ Organization, a labor union representing graduate student employees at UIC, will be rallying in the UIC Quad urging the administration to be more reasonable at the bargaining table.

Graduate employees have been without a contract for the past six months and this has resulted in a wage freeze for their approximately 1,500 members. The primary points of contention include high healthcare premiums, low wages, and increasing fees. Graduate employees have demanded that their compensation match UIC’s own figure of the annual cost of living, $17,958, and the administration’s proposals have thus far fallen more than three thousand dollars below this figure.

“Rally for Graduate Employee Rights” will continue the momentum from the graduate employees’ previous event, “Show Us Some Love UIC” where graduate employees delivered hundreds of Valentine’s Day messages to the chancellor in the effort to get the Administration to be more reasonable at the bargaining table.

“UIC calls itself a world class university. But when it comes to employee compensation, benefits, and working conditions, UIC is anything but world class,” says Kevin Carey, a PhD candidate in the department of English. Grad employees find it particularly egregious that UIC has dramatically increased the salaries of many administrators already receiving very high salaries. UIC’s chancellor, for example, received a 10% raise this year, bringing her salary to $411,752.11 while grad employees receive wages well below the cost of living for Chicago and often pay thousands of dollars in fees each semester.

“UIC is a public university, and education should be its primary aim. This does not square well with the fact that those working in classrooms are receiving less than a living wage while administrative staff are drawing exorbitant salaries. UIC’s priorities are backwards,” says Greg Sutliff, a teaching assistant in the Philosophy department.

Throughout the course of negotiations, members of the union have emphasized that their work is essential to the functioning of the university. “Teaching assistants are responsible for a large amount of the undergraduate teaching at UIC, and other graduate assistants perform vital administrative duties,” says Jes Cook, a teaching assistant in the Sociology department. “UIC works because we do.”

For more information on the GEO’s “Rally for Graduate Employee Rights” and contract negotiations visit https://www.facebook.com/uicgeo and http://uic-geo.net/mainsite/

For Immediate Release: Frustrated UIC Graduate Employees Bombard Chancellor with Valentines

Chicago—The Graduate Employees’ Organization, a labor union representing graduate student employees at UIC, has been without a contract for the past six months. This has resulted in a wage freeze for their approximately 1,500 members. The primary points of contention include high healthcare premiums, low wages, and increasing fees. Graduate employees have demanded that their compensation match UIC’s own figure of the annual cost of living, $17,958, and the administration’s proposals have thus far fallen more than three thousand dollars below this figure.

At noon on Valentine’s Day, graduate employees will be urging the administration to not break their hearts, as they deliver hundreds of Valentine’s Day messages to the chancellor in the effort to get the Administration to be more reasonable at the bargaining table.

“UIC calls itself a world class university. But when it comes to employee compensation, benefits, and working conditions, UIC is anything but world class,” says Kevin Carey, a PhD candidate in the department of English. Grad employees find it particularly egregious that UIC has dramatically increased the salaries of many administrators already receiving very high salaries. UIC’s chancellor, for example, received a 10% raise this year, bringing her salary to $411,752.11 while grad employees receive wages well below the cost of living for Chicago and often pay thousands of dollars in fees each semester.

“UIC is a public university, and education should be its primary aim. This does not square well with the fact that those working in classrooms are receiving less than a living wage while administrative staff are drawing exorbitant salaries. UIC’s priorities are backwards,” says Greg Sutliff, a teaching assistant in the Philosophy department.

Throughout the course of negotiations, members of the union have emphasized that their work is essential to the functioning of the university. “Teaching assistants are responsible for a large amount of the undergraduate teaching at UIC, and other graduate assistants perform vital administrative duties,” says Jes Cook, a teaching assistant in the Sociology department. “UIC works because we do.”

For more information on the GEO’s “Show Us Some Love, UIC” campaign and contract negotiations visit https://www.facebook.com/uicgeo and http://uic-geo.net/mainsite/

Show us some love 2

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