Graduate Workers Negotiate for Parents’ Rights

Story by Jeff Bossert

Both sides say progress was made Thursday in talks between graduate workers and the University of Illinois.

About 50 members of the Graduate Employees Organization rallied before a 3-hour bargaining session Thursday, with the focus on parental rights and equality. 
GEO spokeswoman Stephanie Seawell says core financial issues, like tuition waivers have yet to be discussed. 

The two sides have been meeting almost weekly since April, and Seawell says the two sides are involved in productive conversation on issues like dependent health care, and expansion of parental leave.

"So right now, what is in our contract is we get two weeks paid parental leave for when somebody's having a baby or adopting, then you could two weeks of sick leave, and then you get unpaid leave," she said. "Essentially what we proposed is expanding the paid parental leave to 4 weeks, and you could use the sick leave."

Seawell says the GEO is also dealing with the rights of gay, lesbian, and transgendered members, including who would be eligible for bereavement leave.

U of I spokeswoman Robin Kaler agrees Thursday’s discussion with the union was ‘fruitful’. 

A 3-year contract between the graduate workers and U of I expired Wednesday.

Story source: WILL