GEO Strike, March 19

Dear Campus Community,

The UIC Graduate Employees Organization, the union representing 1,600 graduate employees in collective bargaining negotiations, has declared an indefinite work stoppage beginning Tuesday, March 19.

The bargaining teams are scheduled to meet again on Friday, March 22.

All members of the university community will be expected to meet for classes as usual. During a strike, the university is committed to continuing normal operations to the fullest extent possible. Students and parents can be assured that educational objectives will be fulfilled, and grades should not be affected.

The University has participated in 22 negotiating sessions, including five utilizing the services of the federal mediator. We believe that this work stoppage is not in the best interest of the University, or our students. However, the University fully respects the rights of its employees under the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act and other applicable law.

GEO members:

  • have the right to picket and demonstrate;
  • have the right to work, or to strike;
  • who choose to strike will not be paid during the strike;
  • who choose to work and not strike will continue to be paid.

A mediation session occurred yesterday, and the negotiating teams reached an agreement on appointment terms with both sides stipulating that the university will create a task force to develop guidelines for departments regarding appointments, reappointments and assignments.

Both the University and the union had hoped to make progress on the following critical issues: wages, health care fees, expenses/student fees, and union rights.

Wages

Graduate employees currently receive a minimum salary of $18,065 for two semesters of twenty hours of work per week, plus the equivalent of $13,502 in tuition and fee waivers (assuming full-time tuition of 12 credit hours plus for 2 semesters).  When you annualize that salary from 9 months to 12 months and equate it to full time at 40 hours per week, plus the value of the tuition waivers, it is akin to a salary of $62,375 per year.

UIC has offered an 11.5 percent increase in the minimum salary over the three-year period of the next contract (4.1 percent in year one, 3.7 percent in year two, and 3.7 percent in year three of the contract).

The GEO has asked for a more than 24 percent increase over a three-year period (7.9 percent in year one of the contract, 7.7 percent in year two, and 8.6 percent in year three) and additional tuition and fee waivers.

Health care fees

There are approximately 1,200 GEO members enrolled in Campus Care at a cost of $570 per semester. Next year, the cost will increase to $673 per semester. Currently, GEO members pay $295 per semester.

UIC has agreed to cover all increases in the rate that may occur during the contract period.

The GEO has asked to pay $220 per semester, with UIC paying the remainder of the fees.

Student fees

Graduate and undergraduate students pay a $431 per semester general fee that will increase to $481 next year, following a recommendation by the student fee committee. In addition, graduate and undergraduate international students pay a $130 per semester international fee to support all services associated with international students.

UIC is dependent on the revenue from the general and international fees and is unable to meet requests to waive those fees for GEO employees.

The GEO has asked for UIC to pay the full amount of these fees.

The University has created a website, geobargaining.uic.edu, to inform our campus community of the status of negotiations and work stoppage, to answer questions relating to a strike, and for documents showing the University’s proposals and the union’s responses. We encourage everyone to visit the site for the most recent updates.

Sincerely,

Michael Amiridis
Chancellor

Susan Poser
Provost

Robert Barish
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs