On December 17, 2012, the University’s representatives finally gave the GEO a comprehensive proposal on economic issues for the next graduate employee contract. As you may know, negotiations with the University began on May 16 when over 50 of us showed up to present a comprehensive proposal to the University. Almost 7 months to the day, the University informed us that it will not be raising the wages of graduate employees, failing to account for inflation and the increased cost of living in Chicago. Since the minimum wage for graduate employees is already well below the University’s own estimate for the cost of living in Chicago, their proposal is effectively a decrease in our already low wages.
As a graduate student and employee of one of Chicago’s best universities, I am disappointed. GEO’s motto has never meant more to me than it does now: UIC works because we do. Graduate employees are an important part of the day-to-day operations of the University. We work hard for this University in the classroom and at our jobs, and in return the University decreases our wages. I have colleagues who have tens of thousands of dollars in debt, who qualify for welfare and Medicaid, because UIC refuses to pay us a living wage.
Why did it take the University so long to give us this pathetic proposal? It is part of their strategy. They are hoping that we are too tired and stressed to bother fighting for our rights as workers. They are waiting for us to quit, to turn back to our studies and our families, and say enough. I say, enough. Enough with austerity for graduate employees and not for administrators. UIC’s Chancellor received an almost 10% raise, earning $375,000 in 2011 and $411,752.11 in 2012. Enough debt. Enough second jobs. Enough stalling! On Friday, we are scheduled to meet with the University for an all day bargaining session with a federal mediator. Now more than ever we need everyone in GEO to show up and let the University know that a decrease in our wages is not acceptable, that their strategy of delay is not going to work. We have the power to put pressure on the University when we stand together. Our union is strong because we are strong together and are ready to stand up for our rights and say ENOUGH!
Join us at the table on Wednesday, January 23rd, University Hall, Room 650 8:30-5:00: come at any time for as long as you can stay.