Arbitrator Rules U of I Violated Contract with Student Union

October 04, 2011

A union for grad student workers at the University of Illinois Urbana campus says they have won a battle in their fight to keep tuition waivers as a benefit.

According to the Graduate Employees Organization, an outside arbitrator has ruled that the university violated their contract with the union, when it decided NOT to offer tuition waivers last year to some new graduate employees. Instead, these grad employees coming from out of state to the College of Fine and Applied Arts were given scholarships instead, although for less than the full tuition rate.

GEO spokesman Rodrigo Pacheco-McEvoy said tuition waivers are guaranteed in their contract with the U of I.

"GEO believes that these waivers are a central part of being a graduate employee," Pacheco-McEvoy said. "Because oftentimes, graduate employees don't make a lot of money. In fact, the students who were affected by this tuition waiver issue in the Fine and Applied Arts Department, they make the least amount from departments across campus."

The dispute went to an outside arbitrator, who ruled two weeks ago that the University of Illinois was violating its contract with the GEO when it acted on its own to drop the tuition waivers for some grad workers.

Meanwhile, the U of I said in a statement it strongly disagrees with the ruling, and feels the contract was not violated. It said the university is committed to working with the GEO to "identify ways to move forward".

Story source: WILL