UIUC Graduate Employee Union Files Intent to Strike Paperwork
The graduate employee union at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign filed intent to strike paperwork today. According to a press release from the Graduate Employees' Organization (GEO), the union filed its strike notice after the university administration failed to respond to their latest contract proposal.
At the top of the union’s priority list are better wages and healthcare coverage for grad student workers, in addition to guaranteed tuition waivers. The GEO says the administration’s latest contract proposal would saddle many grad workers with more than $1,000 in fees and raise their healthcare costs. In a statement sent out Monday evening, Andreas Cangellaris, the university’s vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost, says the administration has made good progress in negotiations with the union with agreements reached on 12 of 19 proposals. The administration was "somewhat surprised and disappointed" by the union’s strike notice, according to Cangellaris's statement.
GEO leaders hope the strike notice will pressure the administration to come back to the bargaining table and negotiate. The next mediation session is scheduled for tomorrow. According to Cangellaris's statement, the administration's bargaining team will return to the negotiations with counterproposals.
The GEO’s contract expired more than five months ago. The union is required to file a notice with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board before they go out on strike. Cangellaris says the union can call for a strike any time on or after Feb. 9 without any additional notice to the administration. GEO membership voted to authorize a strike late last year, and the union has also filed two unfair labor practice charges against the university’s administration. The administration has said they plan to appeal those charges.