GEO is dedicated to ensuring that COVID-19 is properly contained and that graduate workers are treated fairly, but strongly believes those obligations are impossible under the current contract language. While the GEO respects the current terms of our contract with the UIC, it is clear that the conditions in which that contract was agreed upon have radically changed.

Click here to send an email to President Timothy Killeen, Provost Susan Poser, and Associate Chancellor Michael Ginsburg demanding that student workers and their families get the health care and other protections we deserve during this pandemic. The email will automatically pre-populate with their email addresses and the following text:

Dear President Timothy Killeen, Provost Susan Poser, and Associate Chancellor Michael Ginsburg:

We, the graduate workers at UIC, demand that UIC provide at least 14 days of paid sick of leave for all graduate workers who contract COVID-19, in compliance with the CDC’s instructions to quarantine for 14 days when sick. For those of us working from home, it will allow us sufficient time to recover from the illness, which our current paid sick leave of less than 4 days will not. We also demand paid leave for workers taking care of sick family members. And we demand UIC make accommodations for any international workers who might be prohibited from leaving the U.S. over the summer and are legally prohibited from working, in the event that they do not have an assistantship.

Sincerely, YOUR NAME

The escalation of the COVID-19 crisis has created new labor-related risks and revealed numerous inadequacies in the working conditions of graduate workers at the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC).

GEO strongly believes that the health of our members is paramount. Graduate workers should not have to face unnecessary risks, nor should they be expected to bare potentially devastating hardships. Graduate worker should not be forced to deal with ruinous consequences because of factors outside of their control.

Please send this email and help us spread the word!

Download a PDF of our statement.

Last Thursday, three days after Governor Pritzker declared a state of emergency in Illinois due to the coronavirus pandemic, the University of Illinois Board of Trustees made the unconscionable decision to increase student health insurance premiums. At the Urbana-Champaign campus, premiums will increase by an outrageous 33% beginning in the Fall. Here at UIC, there will be a 3.5% increase, raising the total cost to $697 per semester. 

This decision not only comes in the midst of an unprecedented healthcare and economic crisis, but it also comes just two months after the University president was awarded a $235,000 raise. At the same time, the Board of Trustees voted to spend $311.8 million on capital projects (i.e. putting up new buildings on campus).

Luckily, UIC grad workers covered by the GEO contract will not be fully impacted by the 3.5% increase to the Campus Care premium this fall. Our current contract– which we won after going on a strike that started exactly one year ago today– says that we will only pay $260 per semester for Campus Care next Fall and Spring. That will save us $437 per semester. 

However, it remains unclear how the cost of dependent care coverage will be affected by this increase. Under our current contract, the University covers 20% of the cost of Campus Care for one dependent and 10% for additional dependents, something we had to go on strike to win. If this increase applies to dependents too, then grad workers who have dependents on Campus Care will be paying more.  It’s also unclear how the increase will affect the cost of having Campus Care in the summer, but will most likely mean an increase.

This outrageous increase to the cost of student healthcare in the middle of a pandemic on the part of the University is yet another example of why we need GEO and why it’s so vital for everyone who is protected by our hard-won contract become a dues-paying member, so that the union and contract can continue to exist. Tomorrow, GEO will negotiate with the University administration over the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, specifically trying to win increased paid leave during this crisis.

In Solidarity,

GEO Steering Committee

Erin O’Callaghan (she/her) — Co-President

Sagen Cocklin (she/they) — Co-President

Veronica Shepp (she/her) — Organizing Chair

Adam Pratt (he/him) — Chief Steward

Marco Rosaire Rossi (he/him) — Grievance Chair

Em Hall (she/her) — Communications Chair

Siamack Hajimohammad (he/him) — Outreach Chair

Noah Glaser (he/him) — Treasurer

Jared O’Connor (he/him) — Secretary

Join GEO for our Spring General Membership Meeting where we’ll have an open dialogue about concerns members are facing in workplace, ideas for blitzes to increase membership and awareness, updates on activities of the international caucus, and info on a variety of upcoming ways you can get involved.

As always, there is FREE pizza and the change to get to know your fellow GEO members. RSVP via our Facebook page:

See you at Gallery 400 (Van Buren & Peoria) on Wednesday, October 23rd from 5pm to 6:30pm. All are welcome!

We strive to host inclusive, accessible events that enable all individuals, including individuals with disabilities, to engage fully. To request an accommodation or for inquiries about accessibility, please contact Em at