Yesterday, April 11th, our union brothers and sisters in Service Employees International United (SEIU) Local 73 at UIC officially filed a notice of their Intent to Strike. They have been working without a contract for almost two years yet the University has constantly stalled negotiations and have bargained unprofessionally. We are calling on all GEO members to stand in solidarity with SEIU as they fight for a fair contract.

SEIU represents the most underpaid workers on campus yet the University is offering them no raises after the top 28 University of Illinois administrators received an average 5.86 percent wage increase over the last two years on top of their already six figure salaries. The work of the clerical, technical, and maintenance workers is vital to the day-to-day operations of the University and its hospital. Without them, there would be no clean classrooms or facilities for faculty and teaching assistants to teach in, less support for patient care in the hospitals, and far less efficiency in the administrative offices across campus. UIC will not be a “World Class University” as long as it continues to depress the wages of the workers who are integral to the University’s basic functions while bloating the salaries of redundant administrators at the top.

Recently, the University of Illinois has adopted a more aggressive stance towards unions on campuses, spending increasing amounts on anti-union lawyers. Workers and unions across the country are standing up–from the University of California grad employee strike to the research assistants organizing in Michigan and the hospital workers now on strike at John Hopkins University–and fighting corporatization and austerity measures in higher education that only serve to undermine the strength of the university. But we are strong when we stand together, when we stand up for public higher education. UIC works because we—the students, faculty, and workers—do!

In solidarity,

Steering Committee
Graduate Employees’ Organization
University of Illinois at Chicago
Local 6297 IFT-AFT, AFL-CIO
www.uic-geo.net

Marissa Baker, Co-President
Gina Gemmel, Co-President
Lydia Hou, Secretary
Daniel Ingebretson, Treasurer
Davis Smith-Brecheisen, Co-Communications Chair
Jesse Holzman, Co-Communications Chair
Alyssa Greenberg, Grievance Chair
Jes Cook, Outreach Chair
Jen Phillis, Co-Chief Steward
Edgar Bering, Co-Chief Steward

GEO stands in support of the 3000 members of SEIU Local 73 who have gone without a contract or raise for over a year and are currently bargaining with the University. According to Fight Back News, the members will take a strike vote next week. You can read more here: http://www.fightbacknews.org/2014/3/27/campus-workers-chicago-will-take-strike-vote

Fellow Graduate Employees,

The United Faculty strike is here. After months of negotiations the administration continues its stand against better wages and working conditions for its faculty. While GEO employees cannot legally sympathy strike, we do encourage everyone to join the faculty and show support in whatever way they can. Here is some useful information about the labor action and ways you can get involved:
UF website has a wealth of information about picketing times and actions, including the location of warming stations, etc: http://uicunitedfaculty.org/2014/02/uic-united-faculty-strike-details-logistics/
Wear blue to show solidarity with UF on Tuesday and Wednesday.
For those who have to cross the picket line to complete their duties, they can get blue armbands at Hull House, SEO 776, and UH 1827. Armbands are a way of displaying solidarity even if you have no choice but to cross the picket line.
UF is trending on twitter, use #UICstrike. A list of ideas for tweets and other social media support is available on the GEO website: http://uic-geo.net/mainsite/?p=1212
Take “strike selfies” in your empty classrooms to show how strong undergrad support is for the strike.
Here’s a set of strike graphics you can share on your Facebook wall. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.674831679226963.1073741845.523003031076496&type=3
Here is an FAQ that will help clarify the GEOs responsibilities during the work stoppage: http://uic-geo.net/mainsite/?p=1210
Here is an article in the Jacobin about the strike that succinctly explains the position of UF: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/02/faculty-on-strike

The United Faculty fight is our fight. Turn out and let the administration know that we are serious when we say UIC works because we do.

Solidarity,

GEO