After eleven months of unsuccessful bargaining, the GEO at the University of Illinois will go on strike tomorrow, Monday, February 26th at noon. This was the date they had set back in early February. They’re holding their first strike rally tomorrow at noon outside Foellinger Audiotorium.
Check out the press release:
GEO on Strike: Day One
Graduate workers strike to ensure quality and accessible higher education
Champaign-Urbana, IL – Starting Monday, February 26, 2018, members of the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) will strike after eleven months of unsuccessful bargaining with the UIUC administration. The administration’s refusal to negotiate in good faith over wages and tuition waivers has left graduate workers no choice but to withhold our labor.
Instead of bargaining in good faith for a contract that is fair to both graduate employees and undergraduates, the UIUC administration wants to give unilateral power to President Killeen to make decisions about wages. This is an end-run around GEO and a violation of labor law. GEO has filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board to force the administration to act within the law.
In Spring 2017 alone, 41% of the teachers ranked as excellent by their students at UIUC were graduate teaching assistants. Yet the administration has refused to maintain the existing language that guarantees tuition waivers to graduate employees. Without guaranteed tuition waivers, graduate students would be forced to pay up to $30,000 in order to keep a job that pays less than $17,000 per year. If the administration successfully dismantles guaranteed tuition waivers, it will eradicate accessible graduate education, which in turn undercuts the quality of undergraduate education.
“Taking away our tuition waivers may have forced us to this point, but our fight goes well beyond that,” said Gus Wood, GEO Co-President. “This is a fight for the soul of public higher education. Working class and poor students cannot afford to pay twice their salary to continue their studies at U of I. Public higher education has to be accessible to our talented, hard working students regardless of their economic background. They tell us to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, and now UIUC administration wants to take away our boots entirely. We deserve better. Our undergraduates deserve better.”
A rally and press conference will take place at noon in front of Foellinger Auditorium (709 S. Mathews Ave, Urbana, IL 61801) where GEO members and their supporters will gather to fight for the financial stability necessary to ensure high quality education on this campus.
For the duration of the strike, GEO members will be maintaining picket lines at select buildings on the Main Quad of the UIUC campus. For more information please contact the GEO Media Liaison, Ashli Anda, at [email protected].
GEO represents approximately 2,700 graduate student employees across the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign campus. GEO’s strong and active membership works to protect high-quality, accessible public education in Illinois.