The members of UIC United Faculty Local 6456 stand in solidarity with the
members of the UIC Graduate Employees Organization Local 6297 as they
fight for a fair contract. We demand that the University recognizes the
vital work that graduate assistants perform on campus and provide a
reasonable proposal with a living wage.
The University’s financial aid office estimates that the cost of living in
Chicago is $17,958. However, the minimum wage for a graduate
employee is $14,565. TAs and GAs make $3,300 less than a living wage
and, as such, live 124% below the poverty level. The added expense of
rising tuition differentials and fees means that many TAs and GAs live on
even less than the minimum. According to an independent analysis of
University finances by Howard Bunsis, Professor of Accounting at Eastern
Michigan University, UIC has accumulated approximately $300 million in
unrestricted funds. By dedicating less than one percent of those funds to
graduate employees’ wages, the University could pay GAs and TAs a
living wage.
Providing graduate employees a living wage means not only improving
their quality of life, but also creating working conditions that will allow
the University to thrive. Ultimately, the University claims to be a world
class institution, but its success is dependent on its educators, staff, and
students. If it continues to alienate those who are integral to its mission
through low wages and high fees, how can it claim to reach its goals?
GEO’s fight is about more than simply a living wage; union members are
fighting for their students, their university, and the future of public
education.
We as faculty members recognize the important roles that GAs and TAs
perform at UIC and demand that the University provide them with a fair
contract. We echo the GEO’s theme- UIC works because we do.

 

Signed,
UIC United Faculty Executive Board and Representative Assembly

UIC United Fac Logo 

 

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!
Love,
Cornel West”

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