The members of GEO received a major message of support yesterday from none other than Dr. Cornel West, well-known social justice activist, author, and professor. He says:

“I wholeheartedly support my brothers and sisters of the UIC GEO! Stay strong and stand tall!
Cornel West”

Thanks, Dr. West, for the message of solidarity!
Dr. WEst

March 12, 2013


Dear Chancellor Wise and the Board of Trustees,


The University of Illinois at Chicago Graduate Employees Organization (UIC GEO) is writing on behalf of its 1500 members to demand that you respect the collective bargaining process and immediately reach an agreement with Service Employees International United Local 73 (SEIU).

It is our understanding that the UIUC administration has engaged in bargaining that has been slow and unprofessional.  Considering that SEIU has been without a contract since July 2012, we are very skeptical of your arguments that fair wages are simply unacceptable and unreasonable.  While your administration typically argues that UIUC has no money, there have been Board of Trustees reports saying that the university has a $3 million reserve fund and, as such, we do not see any insurmountable hurdles to overcome for a fair contract.  Ultimately, it is your role as an employer to provide job and economic security for your employees, and you can provide that by settling a contract now with SEIU. They are an integral part of the university’s function and deserve your respect both in the process of negotiations and their working conditions.

Everyone involved shares an interest in the quality of education and employment at UIUC, and you have the power to demonstrate that you value the contributing members of your institution by prioritizing their needs at these basic levels of providing them with fair wages at your institution.

On behalf of UIC GEO, we strongly urge you to return to the bargaining table and take the necessary steps to negotiate a proper contract.

In Solidarity,


The Member of UIC Graduate Employees Organization

Are you a friend of the UIC GEO?  Want to see them receive a fair contract settled quickly?  Then send a letter of solidarity to the Chancellor and Board of Trustees!  You can use the letter below by signing it and mailing it on either via email or snail mail.

In Solidarity with the University of Illinois Graduate Students and the Graduate Employee’s Organization           

The Graduate Employees’ Organization sent the following letter to Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares on Valentine’s Day:

February 14, 2013

Dear Chancellor Allen-Meares:

We, the members of the Graduate Employees’ Organization representing 1500 Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants  at the University of Illinois-Chicago, are here at your office today to wish you a “Happy Valentine’s Day” and demand a fair contract.  As you are most likely aware, we’ve been bargaining since May of last year and while we presented your administration with a comprehensive proposal on the first day, we never received a fully comprehensive counterproposal and had to wait until this past December to receive a financial counter.

The remaining articles are predominantly financial.  Wages, health care, and fees are of the greatest concern because currently, our minimum wage is $14,565, well below your administration’s own calculation of $17,958 for the cost of living in Chicago[1].  Considering the fact that our members teach a disproportionately large number of the undergraduates and perform a wide range of the administrative duties for your university, our wage seems especially inadequate.  Add to that the exorbitant cost of tuition differentials that many of us have to pay on a semester-to-semester basis simply to go to school at UIC as well as the rest of the fees which can run in excess of $500 per semester and you can see why it’s immensely difficult for us to make ends meet.

That’s why it’s frustrating and baffling when we offer a wage proposal that’s below the cost of living in Chicago and your administration maintains it’s “too high,” especially when considering the almost 10% raise that you received, bumping your salary from $375,000 in 2011 to $411,752.11 in 2012[2].  We know that your university isn’t broke, so please, keep your raise, but give us our fair share as well.  We love this university which is why we continue to study and work here, but if you expect your university to continue to run smoothly, we need to see some love in return from your administration in the form of fair wages and increased fee and health care waivers.

Ultimately we want to remind you that UIC works because we do.


The Members of the Graduate Employees’ Organization

My (electronic) signature on this document indicates that I stand in solidarity with the 1500 UIC graduate students who have worked without a contract in six months (from the date this petition was created; 16Feb13).


NAME: _______________________________ DATE: _________________________


INSTITUTION: ________________________


EMAIL: ________________________



Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares
 2833 University Hall MC 102
, 601 S. Morgan, Chicago, IL 60607-7128 

Christopher Kennedy, President of Board of Trustees 
352 Henry Administration Building, MC-350, 
506 S. Wright St.,
 Urbana, IL 61801