Dear GEO Members:
United Faculty, which represents all full-time UIC faculty (tenure and non-tenure), is planning a two-day walkout for Tuesday, February 18th and Wednesday, February 19th. This is an exciting opportunity for graduate employees and other campus workers to show our solidarity with the faculty in their contract negotiations. Faculty members cannot prohibit you from participating in the strike or other solidarity activities when you are off the clock. Nor can they require you to participate in union activities. We want to make sure all of our members know their rights and responsibilities in the event of another union’s labor action on campus.
The GEO contract contains a “no strike” clause that legally bars us from endorsing a sympathy strike and subjects any GA or TA to disciplinary action if they choose to withhold their labor in solidarity with UF. (RAs, graduate hourly employees, and graduate students on fellowship are not covered by our contract. While that means they are not legally prohibited from sympathy striking, it also means that they are not entitled to union representation. We do not know what the consequences will be, if any, for RAs, grad hourly employees, or fellows who honor faculty picket lines.) There are, however, a number of ways you can support the faculty:
• March with faculty during your off-hours.
• Respect picket lines whenever possible (i.e., don’t cross the line unless you absolutely must in order to complete your job duties).
• Explain the issues to your students, colleagues, friends, and family.
• Hang a “Proud Union Office” or “Proud Union Lab” on your door. If you would like one of these, please email the GEO at the email address below and we will make sure you get one.
• Tell a faculty member that their fight is our fight.
Whether or not any member chooses to cross the picket line is a matter of personal conscience. That said, GEO wants all members to understand that you may face disciplinary action for violating the “no strike” clause only if you choose to participate in the faculty strike by withholding labor (for example, canceling classes and office hours, refusing to report to work for GA hours, or intentionally ignoring student emails). These disciplinary penalties for violating the “no strike” clause could include dismissal. If, as the result of their participation in the faculty labor action, GEO members are subject to disciplinary action, they should immediately contact GEO: all union members are entitled to union representation.
If you have any questions or concerns about the strike, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.