The UIC Graduate Employees Organization (Local 6297, IFT/AFT, AFL-CIO) calls on the Waukegan Board of Education to negotiate in good faith with the Waukegan Teachers’ Council to come to a quick resolution of their on-going contract negotiations. Waukegan teachers have been without a contract since June and this is the fourth year in a row that teachers have started the school year without a contract. The district has a budget surplus, yet has denied teachers salary increases while demanding that they work more, cut their health care benefits, and eliminated clear procedures for teacher evaluation. How does the Board and Superintendent expect to settle a contract when they refuse to meet the teachers at the bargaining table? As president of the Lake County Federation of Teachers, Mike McGue states, “All these things always boil down to one thing: Respect.”

We are in solidarity with our union brothers and sisters in the Waukegan Teachers’ Council as they stand everyday on the picket line to fight for better working and learning conditions in Waukegan schools. Respect teachers! Respect workers! Fair Contract Now!

The Graduate Employees Organization, Local 6297, AFT-IFT, is deeply dismayed to learn of the horrifying racial discrimination that Chuck Conner, a fellow University of Illinois-Chicago employee, has faced on the job. All workers on campus deserve safe, fair working conditions, and a just and swift grievance process. It is utterly unacceptable that Mr. Conner has continued to face discrimination and bullying on the job in spite of an ongoing UIC investigation. We urge the University to expedite its investigation and bring Mr. Conner’s harassers to justice.

We are also disturbed to learn of the University of Illinois- Urbana-Champaign’s rescinding of a job offer letter to a professor, Steven Salaita, on the basis of his personal politics. Academic freedom is vital to the well-being of the university. In silencing a voice it disagreed with, UIUC compromised the quality of academic discourse and scholarship on its campus.

These are but two of many cases that highlight the dysfunction within the University of Illinois system. For U of I administrators, PR optics take precedence over academic freedom, and the well-being of employees and their workplace safety is hardly a priority.  We are in dismay that the University administration would stand idly by and allow for, and support, this assault on academic freedom.

In Solidarity,

The UIC Graduate Employees Organization Steering Committee