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

Past updates on bargaining are here. Bargaining sessions are on Mondays and Wednesdays in University Hall (UH) 650. Next session: Feb. 8, 12-5pm.

GEO held its 20th and 21st bargaining session with the University this week. On Monday, GEO presented a counter proposal to University which was met with a counter from the University. Both sides made movement towards the other. On Wednesday, GEO responded to the University’s most recent counter, the University responded, and the GEO countered (doesn’t it seem like I’m describing chess or a sporting event?). Once again, both sides made movement towards the other. At this point in time, the main outstanding differences between the two parties are wages and changes to Fair Share. As always, the University wants to pay us less than we deserve, but there have been significant advances in their position and we are close to an agreement here. However, the University has proposed changes to Fair Share that would force GEO to send signed member cards to the University. This would allow them to stop deducting fair share fees (which are used to keep the union running) from those who had not signed a card. This is something that we are still fighting against.

Our next bargaining session will be Monday February 8th, from 12-5 PM in UH 650. Note: the University will be caucusing until 1 PM and therefore will not be in the room until after 1 PM. GEO will be caucusing from 12-1 PM to discuss Fair Share and what is a proposal that we would be willing to accept. The University’s proposal on Monday will be brought to the GMM on Tuesday the 9th to get a sense of whether or not we might be ready to tentatively agree to a new contract. See you all next week!

Things at GEO are heating up!

We held a successful “Work In” at University Hall to give visibility to our labor. We packed the room and held a silent protest at the Board of Trustees meeting where we let the board know we are serious about a fair contract!

GEO members have been attending bargaining sessions, strategy meetings, and doing office visits to keep people up to date. We have just begun to mobilize!


Health care, wages, and tuition waivers are on the table and we need you!
We know a quality contract requires GEO to stand together.

General Membership Meeting:

Tuesday Feb. 9th


Gallery 400

400 S. Peoria

At this meeting we will bring everyone up to speed on the latest from bargaining. We will also be finalizing and voting on our upcoming strike plan. The strike plan is going to require active participants from every department. Please join us to discuss the strike plan and share your ideas and concerns.

Food will be provided.12593805_958070614275543_2677813634317883839_o

Past updates on bargaining are here. Bargaining sessions are on Wednesdays in University Hall (UH) 650. Next session: Feb. 1, 1-4pm.
On Wednesday January 20th, 2016 the University and GEO restarted negotiations which had been on hold since before Thanksgiving due to the holidays and the University Team’s vacation schedule. However, the tone of negotiations was changed with the meeting on the 20th. Dean of the Graduate College, Karen Colley, is now attending bargaining negotiations as the Chancellor’s spokesperson.
Additionally, the University brought to the GEO a new comprehensive proposal that had made significant movement from the previous position and in the context of how bargaining has been proceeding this contract negotiation season. GEO did not accept this proposal, but created a counter proposal that was presented today, Wednesday the 27th, to the University. The University responded with a counter. GEO will pass another comprehensive proposal to the University on Monday, February 1st, in UH 650 from 1-4 PM. This process will likely repeat on Wednesday, February 3rd, from 12-5 PM.
TL;DR: There has been movement from both the University and the GEO in negotiations. We will be meeting with the University again on Monday the 1st from 1-4 PM in UH 650 as well as Wednesday the 3rd from 12-5 PM also in UH 650. GEO will pass another comprehensive proposal to the University on Monday the 1st and will likely receive a response. This will likely repeat on Wednesday. Come and make your voice heard in our decisions to accept or reject the proposals that the University gives to the GEO!

Contract negotiations are heating up!

Now is a crucial time to get active with your union and plan our possible upcoming strike.

Wednesday Jan. 27th
UIC-GEO Bargaining Session 
12-5pm (You don’t have to stay the entire session)
UH 650

Wednesday Jan. 27th
Grievance Committee Meeting
6pm at GEO Offices 815 W. VanBuren Suite 203

Thursday Jan. 28th
Stewards and Organizing Meeting
4pm at GEO Offices 815 W. VanBuren Suite 203

Monday Feb. 1st
Steering Committee Meeting
4pm at GEO Offices 815 W. VanBuren Suite 203

Monday Feb. 1st
Ad-Hoc Strike Planning Committee Meeting
5pm at GEO Offices 815 W. VanBuren Suite 203

Wednesday Feb. 3rd
UIC-GEO Bargaining Session 
12-5pm You don’t have to stay the entire session
UH 650

Friday Feb. 5th
Communications Committee Meeting
2pm at GEO Offices 815 W. VanBuren Suite 203

Monday Feb. 8th
Strike Planning Committee Meeting
5pm at GEO Offices 815 W. VanBuren Suite 203

Tuesday Feb. 9th
General Membership Meeting
Finalize Strike Plan and Bargaining Update
6pm at Gallery 400 400 S. Peoria St.
Food Provided

Wednesday Feb. 10th
UIC-GEO Bargaining Session 
12-5pm You don’t have to stay the entire session
UH 650

Thursday Feb. 11th
Stewards and Organizing Meeting
4pm at GEO Offices 815 W. VanBuren Suite 203

Monday Feb. 15th
Steering Committee Meeting
4pm at GEO Offices 815 W. VanBuren Suite 203

Wednesday Feb. 17th
UIC-GEO Bargaining Session 
12-5pm (You don’t have to stay the entire session)
UH 650

Contract negotiations resume on Wednesday January 20th at UH 650.

12-1 will be updates from our GEO negotiation team
1-5 will be contract negotiations

The administration’s last offer included:
-Union busting language
-A proposal to leave tuition waivers at the discretion of each department
-A minimal raise that is no where near what we have requested
Please attend, wear your GEO shirts/buttons, and help us send a strong message that we are serious about a fair contract!
Be sure to stay in touch with GEO for all our upcoming actions.
UIC works because we do!

To kick off our contract campaign, UIC GEO is hosting a work-in at University Hall on December 2 to remind the University about all the work that GAs and TAs do.

Bring your work, wear a GEO shirt (or wear red) and help show that our work powers the university!

Come any time between 10 and 4, and stay as long as you like!

For more information, check out the Facebook event. workin

Past updates on bargaining are here. Bargaining sessions are on Wednesdays in University Hall (UH) 650. Next session: TBD.

The Bargaining Committee met with the University’s bargaining team to discuss our healthcare proposals. They had questions last week that we put off to receive their comprehensive contract proposal. We feel like we addressed the concerns that they had. The message from the University was: that CampusCare is great and incomparable to other insurance plans, that their main decision driver is cost to the program but not the users, and that when medically necessary care is not covered by our insurance its unfortunate but uncontrollable.

After discussing healthcare we asked for an update on the University’s economic proposals. They did not have one. In fact, they indicated that no update to their proposals would be forthcoming, likely until the new year. However, they did reiterate their desire for absolutely no changes to the old contract. When pushed, they indicated that they would only make changes on wages and the healthcare fee. They offered campus wage (a % increase to wages) which will most likely be 0% next semester, with the state budget stalemate given as an excuse. We are tired of their rhetoric and empty proposals.

At last week’s membership meeting we voted to begin planning for a strike on campus if negotiations continue on the current course. We had a planning session last Saturday and have created a calendar full of events and activities for you to get active in!

Tonight Monday Nov. 16th is our Strike Planning Meeting. 5pm 815 W. Van Buren #203

Wednesday Nov. 18th will be the last contract negotiation session for the month.            12:00pm UH 650
We need as many Graduate Employees at the table as we can fit since we have gotten into the economic issues and received a full proposal from the administration.

Thursday Nov. 19th Stewards and Organizing Meeting 4pm 815 W. Van Buren #203

December 2nd we will host a Work In at University Hall. Come out and make your work visible while also getting an update on strike planning and contract negotiations.

The GEO has heard from many members who want to know what has been happening at the contract negotiation sessions with the university administration. While the best way to be in the know is to come to the bargaining sessions, we will provide weekly updates here on the sessions and the progress, or lack thereof, towards reaching a new contract. Past updates are here.

Bargaining sessions are on Wednesdays in University Hall (UH) 650. Next session: November 18, 1:30pm.

The GEO met with the University for our 16th bargaining session on 11/11. We have now been in bargaining for more than 6 months and working without a contract for almost 3. The University passed us a comprehensive proposal (meaning it addressed every article in the contract), which was as terrible, if not more terrible, than we expected. Highlights include (in the order they appear in the contract):

  • The University wants the rights to take away appointments without replacing them even after the offer letter is signed (This is a right we already have under the contract!!!)
  • No change to the minimum and only campus wage program increases for continuing students
  • No change to fees including Campus Care
  • The University wants to collect signed member cards before they have given us a list of members for the semester
  • The University wants the right to immediately terminate members who fail to complete ethics training
  • The University wants to end guaranteed tuition waivers
The University admitted that the proposal for wages and the Campus Care fee were not necessarily accurate because their lead negotiator had not received some information that was needed. We closed the session by letting them know that we could not accept this offer and that we would like to see the real figures for wages.