Friends! Summer is almost over (boo), and GEO is gearing up for a busy fall on behalf of members and the larger UIC community (yay).

Know this: we have an important meeting with the Office of Access and Equity (OAE) on Monday, September 9 from 10:30am to 11:30am, at which time we’ll be providing input on:

1) the creation of Gender Transition Guidelines, and
2) the quality, quantity, and accessibility of lactation facilities.

We are looking for 2-3 people to take on formulating specific recommendations to give to OAE on each point listed above.

In preparation for the meeting, there will be a couple of in-person meetings, plus remote work to compile recommendations based on member input and examples of model institutions.

If you OR someone you know is interested, contact Sagen Cocklin at president@uic-geo.net.

[Image description: a group of a dozen individuals sits around a table in a conference room. They are turning to face the camera, smiling and raising fists in the air in signs of solidarity.]

GEO and the administration met today for the 31st time since March 1, 2018. After reaching a tentative contract agreement last night, today we reached a settlement to end the strike. The settlement forbids retaliation for participation in the strike, and it allows TAs and GAs the opportunity to make up any work hours they missed during the strike by May 3rd. What this means is nobody will have pay docked in the April paycheck, and everyone will have the right to make up lost hours between now and May 3rd to avoid having pay docked in May. Also, we expect to get our retroactive raise for this year in the May paycheck– which will be $815 added to the campus minimum for a 50% appointment.

The strike is therefore suspended and TAs and GAs should resume working. But the tentative contract agreement needs to be ratified by the members for it to be officially in effect.

We will hold a General Membership Meeting this upcoming Monday evening, 5-6:30pm, in Gallery 400 (400 S Peoria St) to discuss all the details of the tentative contract agreement and the strike settlement, and to begin voting on whether to ratify the contract. Members who can attend can then inform their coworkers who aren’t able to attend.

Today was our 30th bargaining session, the 8th since our strike began. The meeting lasted 8 hours. The progress from yesterday’s session continued today, finally leading to GEO and the university reaching a tentative contract agreement. However, as Dawn explained in an email a few minutes ago, the administration said they couldn’t negotiate or settle on the terms of ending the strike tonight, so therefore we have to remain on strike.
 
Here is a summary of what was secured for the contract at today’s session:
  • A 3-year contract instead of a 4-year contract
  • A $2,550 increase to the campus minimum salary over 3 years, the largest raise in GEO history. This includes the current academic year’s raise, which is $815, which will be paid retroactively to anyone currently covered by the GEO contract making the campus minimum (it will appear in our May paycheck).
  • Starting next fall, the International Student Fee will be reduced in half, so international grad workers will pay $65 each semester instead of $135
  • The planned $50-per-semester increase to the General Fee starting next year will be offset with a $55-per-semester increase to all TAs’ and GAs’ pay, in addition to our regular wage increase, regardless of whether they make the campus minimum. This offset will be front-loaded, paid out in October and February, both next academic year and the following academic year.
  • To further offset the economic impact of the General Fee, in academic year 2020-2021, all TAs and GAs will get an additional $150 regardless of whether they make the campus minimum.
  • The amount we pay for the cost of Campus Care will be reduced from $295/semester to $240/semester this year (if you already paid, you will be credited the difference in your student account), $250/semester next year, and $260/semester in 2020-21. So we will continue paying less than we currently pay even as the Campus Care fee increases next year.
  • For the first time, the university will cover part of the cost of dependent care coverage on Campus Care. The university will cover 20% of the cost of 1 dependent, and 10% for additional dependents.
  • Departments with 10 or more TAs, GAs, or any combination thereof can’t deny GEO access to departmental orientations. This way, the union can inform new grad workers of their rights under the contract, tell them about GEO, and ask them to become members to ensure the union remains strong.
These are all in addition to the things GEO has already won in contract language, including but not limited to a requirement that departments will establish written guidelines on appointment decisions by Fall 2020, and new anti-discrimination language to include citizenship/immigration status and arrest record. Also, it’s important to note that there are no concessions from the union on existing contract language– in other words, we only won new rights and protections and didn’t lose anything we previously had.
 
This is a tentative agreement pending ratification by the membership. Members will have an opportunity to read the full contract and vote on whether to ratify it. We will have more details soon about when and where the vote will take place.
 
But until we can secure an agreement on ending the strike and allowing us to make up any lost pay, we will remain on strike tomorrow.