SEIU Local 73 workers at UIC filed an intent to strike notice on Friday, August 6 after a year of contract negotiation. Below is a letter of support UIC-GEO leadership sent to SEIU workers to show our solidarity with them.

To SEIU Local 73 Workers:

The UIC GEO would like to offer our full support for SEIU workers who are considering a strike after a full year of contract negotiations with no progress.

We stand in solidarity with our fellow workers at UIC, who do the important work of keeping UIC running on a day-to-day basis. Last academic year, the university argued that they hadn’t been paid what they were owed by the state, which put them in a financial crisis and necessitated salary freezes and other draconian measures. As skeptical as we were last year about these excuses, we are even less willing to accept such a narrative this year, when the university has received all of the money they were owed for the prior fiscal year, as well as 80% of the money they are owed for this year. We refuse to accept the excuse that the university has no money for some of its most essential workers when the new president will earn $170,000 more this year than the president did last year.

There is no reason why the university can’t support SEIU workers by giving them a fair contract that offers financial security. We implore the university to treat SEIU workers with the respect they deserve by offering them a fair contract during one of their upcoming mediation sessions. Should the university fail to do so, we will support SEIU workers in their right to strike.

In Solidarity,

The Leadership of UIC-GEO

After a marathon thirteen hour mediation session with the university’s bargaining team yesterday, the GEO bargaining team emerged with an agreement that will protect tuition waivers, increase job security, and made important gains on minimum stipends and the university contribution to health insurance.

Because of your organizing, emails, letters of support, and attendance at Monday’s successful  rally, the bargaining team was able to walk away from the table with a contract that makes important gains, and protects the benefits we currently have. Because of your hard work, the UIC administration got our message that we could not agree to a contract that put our tuition waivers at risk.

Next week, GEO members will vote on whether to ratify the agreement (time and place to be announced soon) which includes

* Tuition waiver security

* 2% increase to the minimum stipend in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 academic years.

* Increased university contribution to health insurance from $100 per year to $250 per year.

* Greater job security through strengthened language about appointment and re-appointment criteria

* Guaranteed on time pay, even at the beginning of the school year

* Grads must receive appointment letters 45 days in advance of appointments, except in the case of late appointments

* Academic-year (9-month) pay guaranteed for those currently paid that way.

* Grads may enroll children in the UIC childcare center, and pay according to an income-based sliding scale

* Increased transparency in tuition differentials and fees.

At the ratification meeting, full copies of the new agreement will be available.

In solidarity,GEO Strategic Contract Campaign Committee