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!

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.

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.

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 at 12 PM in University Hall (UH) 650). Next session: November 11, 2015.

Update: November 6, 2015

The GEO met with the University for the 15th bargaining session on 11/04. It was decided that GEO would not pass counter-proposals back to the University as we wanted to push on through the last 2 semi-economic articles. This did not please the University (as it did not play into the game they like to play: stall, stall, stall). However, we were able to get a verbal commitment from the University that they will propose a comprehensive economic package next week. They explicitly stated that the only movement in this package would be around wages, health care, and fees and that it would be paltry and unpalatable to our members. Next week’s bargaining session (11/11) is highly important as we will see if the University delivers on their commitment to bring a comprehensive economic package and how sparse it is.

Wednesday, June 17th from 12:00 to 5 pm we need our members to come and support the bargaining team to ensure we win a strong contract. Even if you are able to attend for a short time, please come, so that the we may keep a consistent presence of members in the room. Join us.! Bring a friend and wear red!

During the last mediation session, the University implied they are getting close to their last, best, and final offer. Unfortunately, the University has been making very little movement in their proposals: they’ve proposed a minimum wage of $15,190 (the current minimum is $14,565), a four-year contract, and no additional fees waived other than what is currently waived.
It’s incredibly important to have member input as we’re getting to the very final sessions since we may be tentatively agreeing to the final proposals or, if their last offer is unacceptable to the membership, we will need to enact contingency plans and may hold an emergency General Membership Meeting the day after the session.
Check back to the Facebook page (facebook.com/uicgeo) and Twitter (@uicgeo) for updates from the bargaining room!

You can also RSVP to the Facebook event here:  https://www.facebook.com/events/373462962768797/

With the mediator in place, we’re on to our second session with the university from 10 am-4 pm in University Hall room 650! This means going over some of the items we’ve previously tabled (such as Additional Employment, Leaves and Holidays, and No Strike clauses) in addition to working our way towards financial issues (slowly but surely). It’s going to be a longer session so even if you’re able to stop by for a little bit, it’s a great idea to have a rotating number of people attending to keep up the visibility. It’s your contract so come on over!
You can RSVP via our Facebook event page here: http://www.facebook.com/events/133815246772544/

Dear members,

On behalf of the GEO Bargaining Committee, I would like to welcome any first time readers to the blog, especially those who are new to UIC this fall.  In the coming months it will be vital to have members who are informed and involved as we negotiate our new contract.  As you may already know, our previous contract expired on August 16.  Working without a contract means that our wages are frozen and the amount of money we pay out for fees, including healthcare costs, is purely at the discretion of the university.  The Bargaining Committee has been in almost weekly negotiations with the university’s team since the beginning of summer.  To date we have succeeded in coming to a tentative agreement on just over half of the articles in our proposal to the contract.  We are close on several other articles but have yet to seriously discuss monetary issues, which we know are very important to our members.  So for this reason, we strongly encourage all current and new members to join us as we work through the remainder of our proposal, the bulk of which pertains to bread-and-butter issues like wages, fees, healthcare costs, tuition differentials and tuition waivers.

We had a bargaining session with the university this week on Wednesday, August 22, what follows is a brief summary of what transpired.  Marissa Baker, co-president of the GEO served as our spokesperson and did a stellar job, as usual.  The university’s team presented our team with a package counter-proposal on six articles they had rejected.  Management Rights was one of the first articles to be discussed. We are actually close to a tentative agreement on this one, once we clarify some language that the university interprets in a way that is quite different from our reading.  The next article, Hours of Work, generated a lot of discussion, but in the end Marissa seemed to have worn the university down. They verbally stated that the five-day time period an assistant has to file a complaint of overwork could be replaced by language that simply says “as soon as possible.”  This would be acceptable to us.   Union Rights was another matter that generated a lengthy discussion, but it was a fruitful one.  It is really important that the GEO know who is in our bargaining unit, and we were demanding that the university supply us with a monthly report listing names, e-mail addresses, departments, etc., for our members.  For two weeks we listened to the university team cast aspersions on their own software system that is apparently so bad that they cannot get us this information until mid-semester.  Their lamentations seemed genuine, and we think we can come to an agreement provided that they allow us to get member information from individual departments. This might, at first glance, appear to be something not worth spending two weeks discussing, but knowing who you are means that the union can do a much better job of looking out for your interests.

The three remaining articles within the package will be more difficult to settle, but we will continue to push for acceptance of our original proposed language on Leaves and Holidays, the No Strike clause, and Additional Employment.  Within our proposed language changes are moral arguments that would expand the kinds of relationships protected by Leaves and Holidays, allow our members the freedom to fully support striking workers without fear of reprisal, and seek additional employment without opening our members up to undue scrutiny by their departments that would not only jeopardize their UIC employment but their status as students as well.  Many of our members are not being paid a living wage. We feel that the university has no right to make our members decide against doing something that is in their financial best interest.  Our position has long been that we would be willing to accept the terms of the article as written in the previous contract if our members were paid a wage that at least met cost-of-living rates in Chicago.   Although we were unable to accept the university’s package proposal, we continue to make slow but steady progress on our new contract.

As it stands, our members have a reasonably healthy relationship with the university.  We want to make sure that it stays that way and feel that our new contract will help to bring about a continuation of fair treatment for our members.  Please join us for our next bargaining session, August 29 at 1:00 on the Sixth Floor of Student Center East.  We’ll also be having a General Membership Meeting on Tuesday, September 4th at 5:30 pm in the Hull House where you can meet the bargaining team, vote on the GEO budget, and partake in free food and drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic).  Then, the next day, meet up for the bargaining session on Wednesday, September 5th at 1 p.m. in room 650 of University Hall.

We strongly urge you to become part of the process. Your union needs you.

Dear Colleagues,

As many of you may know, our most recent bargaining session was on Tuesday, August 14. Greg Sutliff from the Philosophy Dept. represented the GEO. I am pleased to say the session went well, and that we were able to continue to make incremental progress toward a new contract.

Most significantly, we reached a tentative agreement with the university concerning those articles of our contract that govern employee discipline and the employee-grievance procedure. While, with respect to employee discipline, the parties agreed only to some minor changes for the sake of clarity and readability, we were able to implement some important improvements in the section of the contract that governs grievances. For example, we persuaded the university to accept a longer timetable (30 business days instead of 30 calendar days) for the initial filing of a grievance. This will give our members no less than twelve additional days to initiate a grievance through the Union if they cannot resolve a work-related issue informally with their supervisor, ensuring that grievances do not go unheard because of an excessively short deadline to file.

Reaching an agreement on the above issues has freed us up us to tackle other matters. For instance, the GEO and the university have exchanged counterproposals on several other contract provisions, including those that provide for employees’ sick leave, bereavement leave, and parental leave (provisions which we are seeking to expand), and those that restrict GEO members from taking part in labor-actions such as strikes. On Tuesday, Greg also discussed with the university’s representatives objections that the GEO has raised to certain language in our contract, which places restrictions on those grad employees who seek additional employment outside the university. Grad employees have a right to support themselves with outside employment, but rather than affirming this right, our current contract singles these employees out for special scrutiny from their supervisor(s) and from within their academic program. Consequently, we will continue to push for language that protects the rights of grad employees with outside jobs.

To date, we’ve made significant progress toward a new, fairer contract, but with so much still on the table the bargaining process is only beginning. Many of the issues that GEO members are most concerned about, including bread-and-butter financial issues, have yet to be discussed. Although we are seeing some signs that the university will be ready to begin tackling these financial matters in the near future, we will continue to press them until we see an actual reply to the GEO’s financial proposals, which have been on the table—and awaiting a response—since May of this year.

The involvement of GEO members will make a huge impact in the coming weeks. It is vital that the university see how invested our members are in seeing negotiations on the remaining portions of the contract concluded on a timely basis. Keep in mind that the term of our existing contract has already expired as of this week. Our next bargaining session is on Wednesday, August 22. This is your chance to show the university that a fair and prompt resolution to the bargaining process is important to you. We’ll be meeting with the university’s representatives in the Monarch Room of Student Center East, from 1 to 5 PM. I hope you’ll be there.

In solidarity,

Caleb Hardner

GEO Bargaining Chair

With such a successful showing at our first bargaining session with the university, let’s keep the momentum going for our second session! Come see and be a part of the bargaining process, and all members have a right to vote in the caucus! Join us and invite your friends!
When: Wednesday, June 6th at 1:00 p.m.
Where: Rooms 603 and 610, Student Center East

Plus, be sure to check out our event on Facebook and “like” us if you haven’t already! http://www.facebook.com/uicgeo