GEO at UIC statement in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation.

The University of Illinois at Chicago Graduate Employees Organization (UIC-GEO), IFT/AFT AFL-CIO Local 6297 stands in firm solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, and the over 200 other Indigenous Nations, that oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). It is our firmly held belief that the sovereignty and governance of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation land comes from, and can only be decided by, the people of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation.

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The GEO Steering Committee recently signed in support of the Bluest Lie Campaign, a campaign against the potential introduction of the so-called Blue Lives Matter ordinance to the Chicago City Council. This proposed ordinance would categorize offenses committed against police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians as hate crimes. It distorts the purpose of hate crime legislation and we cannot sit idly by as it is discussed in our city government.

Currently, Illinois uses the hate crime designation to prosecute offenses committed on the basis of “actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or national origin.” Attacks against police and other first responders are already classified by Illinois law as aggravated assault and therefore carry stricter penalties than assaults against civilians. Police are also protected by their unions and by city and state officials and enjoy protections far above those of regular citizens.

Bills similar to Chicago’s proposed “Blue Lives Matter” ordinance have recently been introduced in states and cities around the country, even though attacks against police are at record lows. These bills constitute a hostile right-wing reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement and to increasing calls for police accountability and racial justice. Nationally, as well as locally, the bills are opposed by a variety of civil rights and social justice organizations, including: Black Youth Project 100, Black Lives Matter Chicago, Assata’s Daughters, American Civil Liberties Union, Uptown People’s Law Center, and the Anti-Defamation League.  In Chicago, many of these groups have come together to form the Bluest Lie Collaborative.

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It’s that time of year again, so drop your syllabus for a second and come meet your fellow union members for free drinks and snacks at Dugan’s Pub (128 S. Halsted) Thursday September 1st from 5-7pm.

The GEO Welcome Back Social is a great way to learn about your union, ask questions, and get involved while meeting new people from across campus.

Questions? Please contact

Thank you to all those who signed the petition below.  As a result of your help, GEO’s campaign to uphold the rights of José Herrera was a victory! On August 10, José had a formal meeting with UIC administrators, and all of our demands were met. The University agreed to immediately lift the hold on José’s registration and guarantee his TA assistantship for the Fall semester. José is now officially registered for classes. Also, the University Provost attended the hearing and personally apologized to José for the unjust way he was treated – she agreed to work with the different departments involved to make sure this does not happen again. Our petition– which had over 200 signatures– was delivered to the administration at the meeting. On behalf of the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO), thank you for showing UIC admins that an injury to one is an injury to all.


During academic year 2015-16, Sociology Ph.D. student and migrant justice activist, José Guadalupe Herrera Soto, had to take family health crisis leave outside the US. José diligently followed instructions to formally request his leave, but the University erroneously made an electronic transition into his bank account in September 2015.

Returning to UIC this summer, José was ready to work with the University to correct the overpayment mistake. Instead, the University had already penalized him for not being able to address the matter within a two-week deadline given in 2015 while José was on official family health crisis leave. While on official leave, a “hold” was entered into his student account that now prevents him from registering for his courses – this deliberate attack made by the University against José is now jeopardizing Jose’s TA appointment, status as a student, and academic career.José and the GEO demand the following from UIC:

1. Remove the hold on his student account
2. Allow him to register for his courses
3. A confirmation of his TA appointment for Fall 2016
4. Once these conditions are met, José will be happy to resolve the overpayment error made by the University.
5. Hold a formal accountability hearing about what has happened
6. A formal and written apology from all parties involved in placing a financial hold on José’s student account.

Why is this important?

In an open letter addressed to administrators and payroll [

] José states, “There is a fundamental institutional hypocrisy revealed by this situation. The University pretends to have understanding and to care about students as human beings by creating a mechanism through which we have the right to take emergency leave; but as soon as we leave we become exposed to blackmail from Payroll and Collections. Our so-called “rights” as students are a sham.”

UIC brands itself as a social justice university, an institution that is inclusive of poor students of color and especially those experiencing extreme marginalization. José is one of those students. He was not on some vacation, backpacking through Europe or some other “exotic” destination. He was not somewhere surrounded by computers and convenience. Maybe UIC is out of touch with the realities of people’s lives who do not fit a specific social and economic profile.

This is not about denying that the payment was made in error or wanting to keep the University’s money. This is about whether the University has the right to treat José as though he went into the Payroll office and took out money and now must be coerced to fix that by placing a hold on his registration. It’s about whether the University can deprive him of his status as a student without even giving him a chance to be heard. So far, no one has taken this seriously or tried to work with him to resolve the situation, preferring instead the blackmail approach: pay first, talk later. This is a question of justice, accountability and respect.


Plans for a meeting with administration are underway, please join us on:

Wednesday, August 10.
Time: We will gather at 11am (meeting starts at 11:30am
Where: 809 S. Marshfield

For more information please contact José directly at
or contact GEO at

Hello Family,

It is with a heavy heart that I write to you today. Early yesterday morning the LGBTQ community suffered a great tragedy when a terrorist invaded one of the few safe spaces for LGBTQ individuals and enacted a mass murder of 50 people. People like me. As a queer individual I have used bars and clubs similar to Pulse to find a safe space and to be with my community. And it was this community that was attacked yesterday.

GEO is a special family in that we are made up of so many unique groups of people from around the country and world; GEO is a global family. We are not isolated when violence is perpetrated in other cities, we are not insulated when violence is enacted against communities different from our own; we are an intersectional family and an attack on one of our communities is an attack on all of us. Not only was the Orlando massacre an act of violence against the LGBTQ community, it was an act of violence against queer people of color. Violence perpetrated against any part of our family is violence perpetrated against all of us.

With this in mind I would like to say that GEO remains committed to the betterment of working and living conditions for all of our members. Sometimes this means acting at the campus level and sometimes it means acting at local, state, and national levels. GEO does not tolerate hate nor discrimination, and we remain dedicated to helping eradicate it one step at a time. The leadership of GEO will continue to examine how we can do so.

In the meantime, if you would like to help out those in the hospital and the victim’s families there is a GoFundMe set up:

In Solidarity,


Nicholas A. Haas, E.I.T.
Co-President, GEO 6297

The Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) of the University of Illinois at Chicago stands with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Non-Tenure Faculty who are striking for a fair contract.

The Non-Tenure Faculty at UIUC have been bargaining for almost two school years—since October 2014—for their first contract. These full-time instructors, lecturers, teaching associates, clinical assistant and associate professors, and research assistant and associate professors are essential to UIUC’s success as a world-class educational institution.

As teaching assistants and graduate assistants, we share the Non-Tenure Faculty’s concerns with academic freedom, appointment/reappointment notices, evaluation, and many other issues. When 40 percent of undergraduate classes are taught by non-tenure track professors, ensuring academic freedom and job security for these faculty is key to ensuring a quality educational environment for students.

It is unfortunate that after over 555 days, the Administration is not taking the Faculty’s concerns seriously. GEO recognizes that the decision to strike was not taken lightly by the Non-Tenure Faculty and supports the right of the Non-Tenure Faculty to strike without retaliation. We hope that the Administration will recognize the critical role of non-tenure faculty at UIUC and will act quickly to ensure that non-tenure faculty receive the excellent contract that they deserve.

Have you been asked to teach a summer course but haven’t received an appointment letter yet? Please get in touch with us at

Our contract was ratified and to celebrate we will be throwing a social at Dugan’s (128 S. Halsted) on April 20th from 5-8pm. Food and drink will be provided.


While you are there celebrating you can also vote on the GEO Chair elections. Current chairs up for vote are:

-Two Co-Presidents



-Grievance Chair

-Bargaining Chair

-Communications Chair

-Outreach Chair

-Organizing Chair

-Chief Steward


Voting will take place at Dugan’s as well as locations on campus. (More details to come.)

*A raise to the minimum should be reflected on your April paycheck and backpay from the fall semester will be on your May paycheck. 

Just a reminder that the ratification vote begins Monday Feb. 29th and will last until Wed. March 2nd.

Locations of polling stations:
Lobbies of University Hall (at Harrison St and Morgan St), School of Public Health and Psychiatric Institute (Taylor St and Ashland Ave) and Engineering Research Facility (Halsted St and Taylor St)

We will have physical copies of the proposed contract for you to review at the polling stations.

Monday February 29th, from 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM (UH and ERF)

Tuesday March 1st, from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM (UH, ERF, SPHPI)

Wednesday March 2nd, from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM (UH, ERF, SPHPI)

*In order to vote you must be a card signing member of the bargaining unit. Cards will be available at polling stations or you can schedule to have this done before. Just email


If you want to learn more about the contract before the vote please visit the GEO office (815 W. Van Buren #203) where staff Dawn Tefft and Kristin Ryan will be on hand to go over physical copies of the tentative agreements. They will be holding office hours during the following times:

Thursday February 25th from 10-1
Friday February 26th from 10-1


 Get to Know the Grievance Process

The GEO Grievance Committee is planning an informational and training session to introduce members to the grievance process. We have spent the last year fighting for a fair contract, and the grievance process is one of the main ways we ensure that our contract is enforced. The grievance committee is tasked with investigating problems, advising members, and seeking informal and formal resolutions to contract violations.

All members are welcome. Come learn more about the process and how you can be involved. The date is TBD (likely the week following UIC’s Spring Break). For more information, please contact Grievance Committee Chair Marissa Baker ( or our staff (

Good news, fellow GEO members, the University and the Union came to a tentative agreement on a comprehensive collective bargaining agreement (CBA) last Wednesday, February 10th! We made some important gains and we want to let you know what they are:

  • Wages: The minimum wage will be raised $700 in 2015-16 (raising the minimum to $16,765), $700 in 2016-17 ($17,465), and $600 in 2017-18 ($18,065). The previous contract had raises of $500 each year. Back pay at the new minimum will be given to all assistants currently in the bargaining unit. Back pay amounts are based on the duration and percentage of appointment.
  • Healthcare: The University contribution towards Campus Care fees will be $200 or 35% in 2015-16, $250 or 40% in 2016-17 (whichever is greater), and $275 or 40% in 2017-18. The previous contract had the following fee coverage: $125, $150 or 33%, and $175 or 33%.
  • Leaves and Holidays: The new contract includes one paid personal day per semester, which we did not have in the previous contract.
  • Nondiscrimination: We gained increased protections under our nondiscrimination clause by adding “gender identity and gender expression” and “pregnancy” as protected statuses. We were also able to change the language throughout the contract to include gender neutral pronouns to make sure the language of our contract represents all of our members.
  • Other workplace issues: We added a way to address consistently late course assignments, and a few tools to address concerns with the University between now and the next bargaining cycle.

Additionally, we limited the effect of the University’s proposals. We were able to get the University to drop their attack on tuition waivers and come to recognize that they are essential to both union members and the University. The University wanted us to take a five year contract, which we rejected in order to maintain a three year contract. The shorter contract cycle means more members can be involved in negotiations, and it gives us more frequent opportunities to push for better working conditions. The University wanted to drop the percentage coverage of our health care fees in favor of just a flat fee, but we got them to agree to cover more of our health care fees and increase the percentage. The University originally wanted us to change our contract to require us to show majority status the day before we even know who is in our bargaining unit, and we pushed back hard to get a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that requires a one-time card showing within three months of ratifying the contract. This MOU will not be incorporated into our official contract language, and it will sunset when this contract expires, which means that it will not be included as an item for renegotiation during the next round of contract negotiations.

None of these gains would be possible without a large, active, and informed membership and tireless efforts by all of the volunteer leaders and our two staff within the GEO. The administration wanted us to take a 5-year wage freeze, but instead we got the biggest raise in our union’s history. They wanted to possibly take away our tuition waivers, but we successfully safeguarded them. They wanted to bust our union, but we fought to protect our union– a fight that we will have to continue in the coming weeks, months, and years. And we managed to accomplish all of this in the context of an unprecedentedly hostile political environment in Illinois, with an ongoing state budget crisis and with an anti-union governor.

Now it is up to you. Come to our polling stations at UH, SPHI and ERF on the dates and times listed below and cast your vote on whether the Union should ratify this agreement. There will be members at every polling station to answer any questions you have about the new contract.


Contract Ratification Vote

Locations of polling stations:

Lobbies of University Hall (at Harrison St and Morgan St), School of Public Health and Psychiatric Institute (Taylor St and Ashland Ave) and Engineering Research Facility (Halsted St and Taylor St)

Monday February 29th, from 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM (UH and ERF)

Tuesday March 1st, from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM (UH, ERF, SPHPI)

Wednesday March 2nd, from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM (UH, ERF, SPHPI)



The GEO will hold a training for everyone interested in helping out with the membership drive and ratification vote. This will cover everything you need to know to sign up GAs and TAs as members, as well as information about the proposed contract.

The training will be on Thursday, February 25 from 4-5:30 pm at the GEO office (815 W. Van Buren, Suite 203). Dinner will be provided; please RSVP to