Fellow grad students and GEO members,

As of this morning, Monday 9/10, the Chicago Teachers’ Union (CTU) is on strike. That means that workers at 600+ public schools across the city will not be reporting to work. After decades of attacks on public schools in Chicago CTU is standing up and saying, “Enough is enough!” Mayor Emanuel and his unelected school board have closed down neighborhood schools, opened privately operated charter schools, imposed a longer school day, and want to link teacher pay with students’ performance on standardized test — thus shredding tenure. On the other hand the CTU is fighting for schools Chicago’s students deserve. They’re asking for: a better school day with more time for physical education and art, less time on test prep, and smaller class sizes. They are fighting for better schools that have more social workers, nurses, and counselors. They are fighting for fair compensation; for working a longer day, and for those who have experience and have achieved higher levels of education.

Their fight is our fight! Fair compensation for our work is something we in the GEO are fighting for right now in our contract negotiations with the UIC administration. As Teaching Assistants we know that our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. Many of us plan on teaching as a faculty member at a university or college after our time at UIC. If tenure can be shredded at the primary and secondary levels then it can be done away with at the post-secondary level. A victory for the CTU would be a blow against the onslaught of budget cuts and the stratification of education. These issues effect us right here right now at UIC. This is a public university that has seen its share of budget woes and tuition and fee increases. A fighting and victorious labor movement in Chicago can only help us in the GEO. As a result, the GEO Steering Committee passed a resolution in support of the Chicago Teachers’ Union and their struggle which you can find on our website: uic-geo.net

What can you do to help?
Join the teachers on the picket line. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Board is attempting to keep some schools open during the strike. There are many schools near UIC. Stop by a picket line before classes or work, show solidarity with the teachers on strike, and let them know that the GEO supports them. For a complete listing of pickets click here. Picketing starts at 6:30am every morning. Wear your red GEO shirt and support our sisters and brothers in the CTU.

Come to the Teachers Solidarity rally on Campus. It will be on Tuesday, Sept. 11 at Noon. It will be held in the Lecture Centers Quad. This will be a great place to plan solidarity among other UIC students, GEOers, grad students, and under grads. You can find out more information and RSVP here: https://www.facebook.com/events/464922106872419/?context=create

Join thousands at daily afternoon rallies. Today’s rally will be at the CPS Head Quarters (125 S Clark St.) and begins at 3:30pm. Daily mass rallies will be held during the duration of the strike. The more people there every day the more pressure the CPS Board will feel to give the CTU a fair contract.

In Solidarity,

Steering Committee of the UIC Graduate Employees Organization

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