News Local/State

GEO Strike At U Of I Enters Second Week

Hundreds of graduate student workers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus rallied Feb. 26.

The strike by members of the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) on the U of I Urbana campus enters its second week after talks on Sunday did not yield any progress toward an agreement. Lee V. Gaines/Illinois Public Media

The graduate workers’ strike on the University of Illinois Urbana campus enters its second week Monday, after talks with a federal mediator Sunday yielded no progress toward an agreement.

Both the U of I and the Graduate Employees’ Organization, or GEO, released statements Sunday night after the talks.

Patrick Kimutis with the GEO’s bargaining team said the university did not propose anything different than in the last session, so the strike will continue.

“The GEO bargaining team is always willing to meet if it will move bargaining forward. We made it clear that our strike is strong and we are not backing down from our position on tuition waivers: if someone is employed doing bargaining unit work, they must receive full compensation, including a full tuition waiver, regardless of what department they are employed by or study in. The Administration knows that the stakes are high, but our strike is going strong and we will stay out as long as it takes to save our union, protect tuition waivers, and ensure access to education for all!”

The university did not address the substance of the negotiations, only saying that they want to continue talks with the GEO.

"We were glad to get back to the bargaining table today. The only way we will reach an agreement that reflects our goals is to have the conversations about the different ways we are proposing reaching them. Those conversations can be difficult, but we feel that today’s session was time well spent. We have another mediation session scheduled for this Wednesday, and we look forward to continuing the conversation on how to reach an agreement that is fair to everyone."

The main sticking point between the two sides continues to be tuition waivers. The GEO wants them guaranteed for all members, both present and future for the life of the contract. The university wants the flexibility to award waivers on a case-by-case basis to future GEO members.

The next mediation session is scheduled for Wednesday. The GEO will resume picketing at 8:00 Monday morning.