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.

Communications Chair
GEO member and Communications Chair Mik Czerwinski is heading off to study in Poland. He will be missed so a new Communications Chair will need to be voted on by the membership. The Communications Chair works with fellow members of the Communications Committee to plan a communications timeline, including social media posts and the GEO newsletter, and design posters and fliers. It’s more important than ever to have someone in this position since keeping your fellow members updated on bargaining is a vital part of the contract year. It’s also perfect for someone who likes to do things remotely since much of this can be done from your own computer. Interested or have questions? Email Mik and staff at communications@uic-geo.net.

Bargaining Committee
The member-run Bargaining Committee is on the front lines of the contract campaign and represents the membership at the bargaining table with the University. As part of the committee, you’ll be helping draft contract language, doing research, serving as spokesperson (if you’re interested–certainly not a requirement!), and discussing proposals with fellow members during bargaining sessions. Interested in learning more? Email Cloie McClellan, Bargaining Chair, at bargaining@uic-geo.net
See the Bargaining Team in action at the next bargaining session on Wednesday, September 9th from 12-5 p.m. in University Hall room 650! Even if you can only make it for a short time, stop by!

These positions will be voted on by the membership at the next General Membership Meeting which is Tuesday, September 15th from 6-7 pm at Gallery 400 (400 S. Peoria).

For all the new TAs and GAs who are starting work this week, or for returning TAs and GAs that want to get more involved, the GEO Bargaining session is a great way to become more engaged with your union! The member-run bargaining team has been steadily meeting with the university through out summer, actively proposing improvements to the contract the governs such things as wages, tuition waivers, fee waivers, and protections against discrimination. All members are welcome and all card-signers can help create and vote on any proposals. This is YOUR contract; come have your say in its creation this Wednesday, September 2nd from 1-5 pm in University Hall Room 650. Even if you can only make it for part of the time, stop on by.

Then join your colleagues for the Welcome Back Social from 5-7 p.m. at PhD Bar (1257 S Halsted). Have some free drinks and snacks, meet some new friends from across campus, and unwind from the start of the semester.

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!

Yesterday, United Faculty reached a tentative agreement for both the tenure-track and non-tenure track faculty contracts. Details will be discussed at membership meetings (times TBD) and will be released to the public after the members vote. As a result, the strike has been averted.

Congratulations to all of the United Faculty members!

http://uicunitedfaculty.org/2014/04/strike-averted-uic-united-faculty-uic-administration-reach-tentative-agreement-first-contracts/

UPDATE:  Bargaining session has been cancelled by the university due to a member of their team having an ongoing family emergency.

It’s the first bargaining session of the spring semester (due to the university cancelling Friday’s session) and after 7 months of bargaining with the university, we finally received an economic proposal from them only to find out they want to decrease the wages of graduate employees. Find out more from co-president Marissa Baker’s blog post: http://uic-geo.net/blog/?p=183 Ready to say “Enough!”? Then head on over to the GEO Bargaining Session this Wednesday, January 23rd, from 8:30 am-5 p.m. in University Hall room 650. We’ll be discussing wages, health care, fees: all major issues! Even if you can only make it for a little while, join us at the table!

You can invite your friends and/or RSVP on our Facebook event page here:  http://www.facebook.com/events/491183524266897/

On December 17, 2012, the University’s representatives finally gave the GEO a comprehensive proposal on economic issues for the next graduate employee contract. As you may know, negotiations with the University began on May 16 when over 50 of us showed up to present a comprehensive proposal to the University. Almost 7 months to the day, the University informed us that it will not be raising the wages of graduate employees, failing to account for inflation and the increased cost of living in Chicago. Since the minimum wage for graduate employees is already well below the University’s own estimate for the cost of living in Chicago, their proposal is effectively a decrease in our already low wages.

As a graduate student and employee of one of Chicago’s best universities, I am disappointed. GEO’s motto has never meant more to me than it does now: UIC works because we do. Graduate employees are an important part of the day-to-day operations of the University. We work hard for this University in the classroom and at our jobs, and in return the University decreases our wages. I have colleagues who have tens of thousands of dollars in debt, who qualify for welfare and Medicaid, because UIC refuses to pay us a living wage.

Why did it take the University so long to give us this pathetic proposal? It is part of their strategy. They are hoping that we are too tired and stressed to bother fighting for our rights as workers. They are waiting for us to quit, to turn back to our studies and our families, and say enough. I say, enough. Enough with austerity for graduate employees and not for administrators. UIC’s Chancellor received an almost 10% raise, earning $375,000 in 2011 and $411,752.11 in 2012. Enough debt. Enough second jobs. Enough stalling! On Friday, we are scheduled to meet with the University for an all day bargaining session with a federal mediator. Now more than ever we need everyone in GEO to show up and let the University know that a decrease in our wages is not acceptable, that their strategy of delay is not going to work. We have the power to put pressure on the University when we stand together. Our union is strong because we are strong together and are ready to stand up for our rights and say ENOUGH!

Join us at the table on Wednesday, January 23rd, University Hall, Room 650 8:30-5:00: come at any time for as long as you can stay.

In solidarity,
Marissa Baker
GEO Co-President

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