Labor Updates and Resources

GEO Negotiations

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Teaching assistants and graduate assistants are valued members of our campus community and we depend on their expertise, experience and dedication. We respect the Graduate Employees’ Organization’s commitment to representing the best interests of its membership as we work together towards a new agreement. Through good faith, transparent and fair negotiations, we are confident that we will find common ground and reach an agreement that will make this a better university for all of us. 

Robert J. Jones, Chancellor

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GEO Time and Attendance Form

Settled Bargaining Matters
Appointment Terms

The University is committed to extending appointment letters as soon as practicable, preferably at least thirty (30) days before the start of the Fall or Spring appointment.

In addition, a represented graduate assistant who does not receive a notice of appointment from the employing department within the timeframe set forth above may request an explanation from the campus Labor and Employee Relations (LER) department s to why the notice was delayed. Upon receiving such a request, LER will review the request to determine the underlying circumstances for the delay. If the underlying circumstances warrant a remedy, then the sole remedy for an assistant who does not receive a notice appointment within the timeframe set forth above beginning in the Spring Semester 2019 and subsequent years of the contract, that assistant will receive a fifty dollar ($50) credit to his/her/their student account during the appointment term, upon request by the graduate employee. Assistantship appointments that are not extended within the timeframe set forth above that are due to a change in course offerings and result in additional appointments being offered will not warrant remedy.

Wages

The minimum salary of represented employees has been increased by four and one half percent (4.5%) during the first year of the bargaining agreement and by an additional two percent (2%) during the second and third years; parties agreed to a wage reopener for the final two years of the contract.

Reappointed graduate employees will receive a two and one half percent (2.5%) salary increase during the first year of the agreement and campus wage program for during the second and third years; parties agreed to a wage reopener for the final two years of the contract.

Fee Waivers

The University included language within the new bargaining agreement that memorialized its commitment to continue to waive those fees currently being waived for bargaining unit members.

Health Care

The University increased the University’s contribution to the student health insurance fee for represented employees from the current eighty (80%) to eighty-seven percent (87%), effective August 16, 2018.

The University will also pay twenty-five percent (25%) of the cost of the premium for the health insurance coverage of one (1) dependent of the covered graduate assistant for each academic terms during which the graduate student holds a qualifying assistantship and elects dependent coverage. 

Child Care Resources

The University will provide information regarding the child care resources available to graduates through a website currently accessible at https://www.odos.illinois.edu/student-parents/ and will reference that website in its offer letters to covered graduate employees.

Tuition Waivers

The side letter has been removed and the parties agreed to the following language in the body of the contract:

Tuition waivers will be guaranteed to teaching assistants and graduate assistants holding .25 to .67 full-time equivalent (FTE) appointments. Once enrolled in a graduate program, students will be governed by the tuition waiver policy in effect at the time of their first enrollment in that program, as long as they remain in that program, are in good academic standing, and are making appropriate progress towards graduate in that program, even if later modifications to the program should occur. The policy under which the tuition waiver for a student is governed will be reference in the offer letter that is extended to the student.

Except as otherwise specifically modified by the terms of this provision, nothing contained within this Agreement diminishes the role of the faculty through shared governance in creating, developing, setting the direction for or designating academic programs at the University.

Duration

The parties settled on a five-year agreement, August 16, 2017 to August 15, 2022.

Tentative Agreements
  1. 1. Recognition Clause
  2. 2. Nondiscrimination Statement
  3. 3. Evaluations
  4. 4. Hours of Work
  5. 5. Employee Rights
  6. 6. Expenses
  7. 7. Distribution of Information
  8. 8. Dues and Fair Share Deductions
  9. 9. Holidays and Leaves   
  10. 10. Grievance Procedures
  11. 11. Health & Safety
  12. 12. Effect of Federal and State Law
  13. 13. Appointment Terms
  14. 14. Wages
  15. 15. Health Care
  16. 16. Child Care
  17. 17. Fee Waivers
  18. 18. Tuition Waivers
  19. 19. Duration
 

Updates

March 7/8, 2018 Bargaining Session Recap
(28th Overall Bargaining Session/16th Mediation Session)

After bargaining sessions on February 25th and March 4th yielded little progress, the University and the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) engaged in a session that extended from the early morning of March 7th into the middle of the following day. The University submitted a comprehensive package proposal that expressed the University’s objectives regarding tuition waivers in a more simplified manner and reaffirmed the University’s position on the other remaining issues. Through the course of that session, the parties were able to resolve and reach tentative agreement on all of the outstanding issues, which led to the ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement. The terms agreed upon by the parties in this final session are contained on the University’s website addressing the negotiations.            

Previous Updates
February 23, 2018 Bargaining Session Recap (25th Overall Bargaining Session/13th Mediation Session)

The University and the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) continued their negotiations yesterday with the assistance of federal mediators in a full-day session that extended into the late evening hours.  In response to the comprehensive package proposal that had been submitted by the University near the end of the previous bargaining session, the GEO submitted a comprehensive package counterproposal, which modified its proposal relating to the waiver of fees.  Instead of proposing that both the General Fee and the Transportation Fee be waived from the outset of the new agreement as it had done previously, the GEO’s new proposal would phase in the waiver of those fees, with the waiver of the General Fee commencing in the second year of the agreement and the waiver of the Transportation Fee commencing in the third year of the agreement. 

The University responded with a generous comprehensive package proposal that is intended to address and resolve the remaining issues and thereby alleviate the need for a strike.  Through that proposal, the University offered the following:

Side Letter: The language proposed by the University with regard to the side letter is set forth below verbatim:

The University has reserved, as part of its management rights, the right to determine and modify the graduate program tuition waiver designations. Each program, therefore, will be permitted to exercise the rights and authority associated with its designation relating to tuition waivers, regardless of whether that right or authority has been previously exercised.

The University agrees that current students are governed by the waiver policy in effect at the time of first enrollment in the program as long as they remain in that program, are in good academic standing, and are making proper progress toward graduation in that program even if modifications in that program should occur. Accordingly, if the University determines that program needs have changed and elects to modify the designation or suspend future enrollment in a program, the existing students within that program will nevertheless continue to remain eligible to receive tuition waiver generating assistantships throughout the time that they remain in that program, provided that they hold a tuition waiver generating assistantship, maintain good academic standing and continue to make appropriate progress towards their degree. 

Similarly, if the University decides to modify the tuition waiver given to incoming students within a graduate program from a full waiver to a base-rate waiver, the University will not modify the full tuition waiver offered to the existing students within that program who hold a tuition waiver generating assistantship throughout the time that they remain in that program, provided that they maintain good academic standing and continue to make appropriate progress towards their degree.

All doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree programs will be tuition waiver eligible. The University will guarantee funding to those students enrolled in a Ph.D. graduate program for a period of five (5) academic years provided that they (1) held a University provided tuition-waiver generating assistantship or fellowship throughout the first year (of the five year period) of their enrollment in that program, (2) remain enrolled in that same program, (3) continue to satisfactorily perform the duties of their assistantships, (4) maintain good academic standing, and (5) continue to make appropriate progress towards obtaining their degree.  The funding provided during that time period may take a variety of forms within the discretion of the University, including tuition-waiver generating graduate assistantships, teaching assistantships, research assistantships, pre-professional assistantships, and fellowships.

Wages:  The University proposed increasing the minimum salary of represented employees by four percent (4%) during the first year of the bargaining agreement and by an additional one and one-half percent (1.5%) during each of the four remaining years of a proposed five-year agreement.  Under the University’s proposal, reappointed graduate employees would receive a three percent (3%) salary increase during the first year of the agreement.

Health Insurance:  The University proposed increasing the University’s contribution to the student health insurance fee for represented employees from the current eighty (80%) to eighty-seven percent (87%).

Fee waivers: The University has offered to include language within the new bargaining agreement that would memorialize its commitment to continue to waive those fees currently being waived for bargaining unit members.

Childcare: The University is not proposing any language relating to childcare coverage.

Duration: The University is proposing a five-year agreement.

The parties are scheduled to resume their negotiations tomorrow, Sunday, February 25th at noon. The University will continue its good faith effort to negotiate an agreement that will be fair to all parties affected by the agreement and its efforts to avert a strike.

February 15, 2018 Bargaining Session Recap (24th Overall Bargaining Session/12th Mediation Session)

Negotiations with the University and the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) over a new collective bargaining agreement continued with the assistance of federal mediators. A few hours into the session, the GEO provided its counter-proposal to the proposal submitted by the University at the previous session.

The modification reflected in this counter-proposal was a change in new language that the GEO is seeking to have incorporated into the collective bargaining agreement. It would provide summer health care coverage for graduate students who do not hold an assistantship during the summer months, but who had held a covered tuition waiver generating assistantship during the preceding Spring semester. Through its proposed modification, the GEO would reduce the employer’s contribution towards that coverage from ninety percent (90%) to eighty-five (85%).

In its continued effort to further the progress of the negotiations, the University presented the GEO with a revised comprehensive proposal.  The University offered a guaranteed two and one-half percent (2.5%) increase to the minimum wage rate in the first year of the new agreement, which would establish a minimum salary of $16,770 for a fifty percent (50%) appointment on a 9-month service basis, which equates to a minimum hourly rate of $21.50. In addition, the University also offered to increase the employer contribution on health care coverage from eighty-three percent (83%) to eighty-four percent (84%).

In response, the GEO modified its previous demand of having all student fees waived. Although represented graduate employees currently have over seventy-two percent (72%) of their student fees waived, the GEO had been seeking the waiver of all fees, including the General Fee, the Transportation Fee and the Student Initiated Fee. Through its modification, the GEO dropped its demand that the Student Initiated Fees be waived, but are still seeking for the waiver of the General Fee and the Transportation Fee to be covered.

After receiving another revised comprehensive proposal from the University that offered further concessions with regard to wages and that modified the University’s proposal regarding the side letter in an effort to address the GEO’s request for more clarity, the GEO ended the session by stating that they would offer a response at the next bargaining session, which is scheduled for next Friday, February 23, 2018.

February 7, 2018 Bargaining Session Recap (23rd Overall Bargaining Session/11th Mediation Session)

The University and the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) continued to negotiate, with the involvement of federal mediators, over a new collective bargaining agreement. The GEO spent the first several hours of this session working on a counter-proposal to the comprehensive proposal submitted by the University at the prior session. After receiving that counter-proposal and a statement on tuition waivers from the GEO, the University prepared a revised comprehensive proposal that offered further concessions with regard to wages and healthcare costs.   

The GEO did not provide a counter-proposal that addressed all of the remaining economic issues raised in the University’s revised comprehensive proposal, but instead elected to focus solely on the issue of student fees and presented the University with a stand-alone proposal seeking the waiver of all student fees. While represented graduate employees currently have over seventy-two percent (72%) of their student fees waived, the GEO’s proposal calls for the waiver of all fees, including the General Fee, the Student Initiated Fee, and the Transportation Fee. The waiver of all student fees would detrimentally impact certain units that serve all students and are dependent upon those fees. While the University is not willing to completely waive student fees, the University is willing to add new language to the bargaining agreement guaranteeing that the current fee waivers will remain in effect throughout the duration of the agreement. In fact, during the mediation session, the University modified its comprehensive proposal to offer such a guarantee.

The parties also discussed, through the federal mediators, the side letter on tuition waivers that was contained within the expired bargaining agreement. Contrary to the GEO’s assertions, the University is not seeking to terminate tuition waivers for its graduate students. The University’s comprehensive proposal seeks to clarify the language and intent of the side letter. The University is not seeking to restrict access to tuition waivers for graduate students who are already receiving waivers or for those who are awarded waivers in the future as long as they continue to maintain good academic standing, continue to make appropriate progress towards their degree, and do not change their degree program. Under the University’s proposal, graduate students, once enrolled in a program, can be confident that their eligibility to qualify for a tuition waiver generating assistantship and the rate of their tuition waiver would remain unaltered as described above. The University’s proposal, in short, seeks to provide graduate students with needed security in knowing that their tuition waiver eligibility will not change as long as they continue to meet the following criteria: maintain good academic standing, continue to make appropriate progress towards their degree, and do not change their degree program. The proposal provides departments with the flexibility to adapt and modify their graduate programs in light of changing needs and administrative models.    

The University is looking forward to making continued progress on the remaining provisions at the next bargaining session, which is scheduled for February 15, 2018.  

January 30, 2018 Bargaining Session Recap (22nd Overall Bargaining Session/10th Mediation Session)

Following the submission of an intent to strike notice a day earlier by the GEO, the University and the GEO continued their negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement with a federal mediator present. As requested by the GEO at the last bargaining session, the University opened the session by offering a comprehensive proposal addressing (1) appointment terms, (2) wages, (3) health care, (4) child care, (5) duration of contract, and (6) the side letter agreement. Even though both parties now have comprehensive proposals on the table, the focus of the session returned to a discussion about notices of appointment. By the end of the extended session, the parties had made good progress and seemed to agree on the contract language regarding notices of appointment, even though the GEO declined to officially classify it as a tentative agreement. 

The parties have declared tentative agreements on twelve other provisions through the course of these negotiations. The University is looking forward to making continued progress on the remaining provisions at the next bargaining session, which is scheduled for February 7, 2018. 

January 30, 2018 Bargaining Session Recap (22nd Overall Bargaining Session/10th Mediation Session)

Following the submission of an intent to strike notice a day earlier by the GEO, the University and the GEO continued their negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement with a federal mediator present. As requested by the GEO at the last bargaining session, the University opened the session by offering a comprehensive proposal addressing (1) appointment terms, (2) wages, (3) health care, (4) child care, (5) duration of contract, and (6) the side letter agreement. Even though both parties now have comprehensive proposals on the table, the focus of the session returned to a discussion about notices of appointment. By the end of the extended session, the parties had made good progress and seemed to agree on the contract language regarding notices of appointment, even though the GEO declined to officially classify it as a tentative agreement. 

The parties have declared tentative agreements on twelve other provisions through the course of these negotiations. The University is looking forward to making continued progress on the remaining provisions at the next bargaining session, which is scheduled for February 7, 2018. 

January 18, 2018 Bargaining Session Recap (21st Overall Bargaining Session/9th Mediation Session)

The parties’ met yesterday in another full-day bargaining session with the federal mediator. Because the University had submitted a revised memorandum of understanding on notices of appointment to the GEO at the conclusion of the January 5th session, the University was looking forward to receiving a written response from the GEO on this memorandum. Although both parties expressed an interest at the beginning of yesterday’s session in continuing to address that memorandum, which has been the subject of discussion at the last four bargaining sessions, the GEO did not submit any revised language to the memorandum. Instead, the GEO ultimately responded by submitting a comprehensive, package proposal that reverted back to the GEO’s initial position on many of the remaining economic issues, including the position that the current contract language on appointment notices should be left unaltered.  The only substantive change from the GEO’s initial position that was reflected in their most recent comprehensive, package was a slight reduction in the wage increases that they are seeking during the first year of the contract.  Rather than seeking an 8% increase to the minimum salary for new appointments and a 4% wage increase for reappointed graduate students during the first year of the contract, the GEO is now proposing a 7.47% increase to the minimum and a 3.75% wage increase for reappointed graduate students during the first year.  The comprehensive, package proposal is continuing to seek additional wage increases during the second year of the contract.   

In light of this dramatic shift in the GEO’s approach, the University determined that it needed to carefully assess its next steps and, therefore, intends to address the GEO’s comprehensive, package proposal at the next scheduled bargaining session on January 30, 2018. 

January 5, 2018 Bargaining Session Recap (20th Overall Bargaining Session/8th Mediation Session)

Following a break since the last session due to finals and the holidays, the University and the GEO resumed collective bargaining with the continued presence of federal mediators. The focus of this session was again on the drafting of a Memorandum of Understanding to create a joint committee that would address the process for issuing reappointment notifications to represented graduate employees. After reviewing a revised Memorandum of Understanding prepared by the GEO, the University responded by submitting a new draft of the memorandum that sought to address the GEO’s request for more detailed information regarding the composition and scope of the committee, as well as reaffirm the University’s goal of implementing an improved process by the end of the 2019-2020 academic year. The University remains optimistic that the parties will be able to agree on a final draft of the Memorandum of Understanding at the next session, which is tentatively scheduled for January 18, 2018.

December 12, 2017 Bargaining Session Recap (19th Overall Bargaining Session/7th Mediation Session)

The parties’ held another full-day bargaining session with a federal mediator. The focus of discussion for the day centered on the parties’ shared interest in a memorandum of understanding addressing the appointment notice process. The University re-drafted and proposed to the GEO a memorandum that addressed many of the topics identified as shared interest points. The memorandum sought to facilitate the parties’ ongoing efforts to identify ways to improve the timing of notifications through the creation of a joint committee and, again, the University expressed its commitment to improving the appointment notice process and its goal of being able to notify the majority of its reappointed teaching assistants at least thirty (30) calendar days in advance of their appointments by the 2019-2020 academic year. Near the conclusion of the session, the GEO expressed that they would consider the University’s written proposal and seek to have more discussion at the next agreed upon session, which is tentatively scheduled for Friday, January 5th.

The University remains optimistic that the appointment notification memorandum of understanding can be resolved in the near future and that the GEO will provide written counterproposals to the remaining economic matters.

November 29, 2017 Bargaining Session Recap (18th Overall Bargaining Session/6th Mediation Session)

Following a break due to the holidays, the parties resumed their negotiations with an eleven-hour long session. The focus of the session was on negotiating a settlement of a previous arbitration decision addressing a program's exercise of its right to seek reimbursement of a tuition waiver for the first time. The session culminated in the parties agreeing to a memorandum of understanding that resolved all issues related to that arbitration decision.

During this session, the University reaffirmed its expectation that the side letter to the bargaining agreement will be addressed during these negotiations. Although the GEO previously had expressed an unwillingness to discuss any modifications to the side letter, the GEO is now indicating that it will discuss the side letter in future sessions.

The parties have scheduled another bargaining session for December 12, 2017, at which the parties intend to focus on the contract language regarding appointment terms. 

November 7, 2017 Bargaining Session Recap (17th Overall Bargaining Session/5th Mediation Session)

The parties held another full-day bargaining session that was attended by federal mediators. The University sought to continue the dialogue over the notification of appointment provisions of the bargaining agreement by offering a proposed memorandum of understanding at the outset of the session. That memorandum sought to facilitate the parties’ ongoing efforts to identify ways to improve the timing of notifications of appointment through the creation of a joint committee to review the matter and propose a suitable process. In conjunction with the memorandum, the University also expressed its commitment to improving the notification process and its goal of being able to notify the majority of its reappointed teaching assistants at least thirty (30) calendar days in advance of their appointments by the 2019-2020 academic year. Near the conclusion of the session, the GEO expressed, through the mediators, that it was rejecting the proposed memorandum of understanding in favor of retaining the current language of the bargaining agreement.

The University also sought to initiate dialogue on the side letter proposal that it originally introduced at a bargaining session in June 2017 by submitting a package proposal to the GEO, which incorporated both the side letter proposal and a proposed resolution to an earlier arbitration decision involving the side letter. At the end of the session, the GEO through the mediators expressed no interest in discussing the University’s side letter proposal.

The University also continues to seek a counter proposal from the GEO to its wage proposal. Even though the University already has modified its original proposal so as to offer guaranteed increases to both the minimum and base salaries for graduate employees during the first year of the contract in order to make those increases commensurate with the increases offered to other employee groups on this campus during this academic year, the GEO has not deviated at all from its original wage proposal offered on March 30, 2017.  The GEO continues to seek an eight percent (8%) increase to the minimum wage rate and a four percent (4%) increase to continuing appointments.

The University is hopeful that a dialogue can occur on these various provisions, as well on the health care proposal that was offered recently by the University that would increase the University’s contributions to the graduate employee’s health insurance premiums, at the next bargaining session, which is tentatively scheduled for November 16, 2017.

October 31, 2017 Bargaining Session Recap (16th Overall Bargaining Session/4th Mediation Session)

The University and the Graduate Employees’ Organization met with federal mediators for a fourth time on October 31, 2017.  At the outset of that session, the GEO responded to the comprehensive package proposal that had been submitted by the University at the preceding session.  In its package counterproposal, the GEO addressed four of the remaining seven articles, namely appointment terms, fee waivers, healthcare, and child care.  The GEO’s counterproposal did not address the University’s last proposals relating to wages, the side letter or the duration of the agreement. 
  
During the session, the University revised its comprehensive package proposal to include a greater proposed contribution to the graduate employees’ health insurance premiums.  The parties also continued to address the timing of appointment notices to graduate employees in light of the various operational factors (such as registration periods, undergraduate and graduate enrollments, changes in course offerings, budgetary constraints) that impact or influence the timing of such notices.  The GEO also submitted a proposed memorandum of understanding at the conclusion of the session, which put forth a potential resolution to an arbitration decision addressing the side letter. 
     
The University remains confident that the parties can negotiate a collective bargaining agreement that will be fair to both sides as it prepares for the next mediation session scheduled for November 7, 2017. 

October 24, 2017 Bargaining Session Recap (15th Overall Bargaining Session/3rd Mediation Session)

The University and the GEO made progress towards achieving a successor bargaining agreement with the continued assistance of federal mediators. In an effort to be responsive to several outstanding issues, the University initiated the session by submitting a package proposal addressing a number of provisions on which the University believed the parties could either reach agreement or withdraw. Ultimately, the parties reached tentative agreement on the following four (4) provisions, extending the total number of tentative agreements reached between the parties to twelve (12): 

- Effect of State and Federal Law
- Distribution of Union-related Information
- Grievance Procedure
- Health and Safety

In an effort to resolve the seven (7) remaining provisions, the University submitted a revised comprehensive package proposal addressing: (1) appointment terms, (2) wages, (3) fee waivers, (4) health care, (5) child care, (6) the side letter, and (7) the duration of the agreement. The University is looking forward to receiving the GEO’s response to that package proposal at the next session, which is scheduled for October 31, 2017.

October 10, 2017 Bargaining Session Recap (14th Overall Bargaining Session/2nd Mediation Session)

The University and the GEO met on October 10, joined for the second time by a federal mediator. The University opened the session by submitting a revised package proposal addressing (1) appointment terms, (2) the grievance procedure, (3) distribution of union-related information, and (4) health and safety. At this session, the discussion focused on the appointment terms article, particularly on the timing of the notices of appointment/reappointment to graduate employees. The University continues to work with the GEO to find language that provides graduate employees sufficient notification of their appointments while recognizing the operational factors that impact the timing of notices, such as registration periods, undergraduate and graduate student enrollments, changes in course offerings, budgetary/funding considerations, among others.

At today’s session, the GEO also submitted counterproposals on Health Care and Child Care, which the University will review in preparation for our next session, scheduled for October 24, 2017.

As previous summaries indicate, the parties have reached tentative agreement on eight provisions, relating to:

  • Recognition Clause
  • Nondiscrimination Statement
  • Evaluations
  • Hours of Work
  • Employee Rights
  • Expenses
  • Dues and Fair Share Deductions
  • Holidays and Leaves, including a new provision on immigration-related leave as well as a revision to the parental leave provision. 

The University remains confident that the parties can continue to work together to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement that is fair to all parties affected by this agreement.

October 3, 2017 Bargaining Session Recap (13th Overall Bargaining Session/1st Mediation Session)

A federal mediator joined the GEO and the University for the first time as they continued their negotiations over a successor collective bargaining agreement. At this session, the GEO submitted a counterproposal to the University’s latest package proposal addressing (1) appointment terms, (2) the grievance procedure, (3) distribution of union-related information, and (4) health and safety. The focus of this session was on understanding the operational factors that affect the timing of appointment notices and accommodating those operational concerns while giving graduate employees sufficient notification of their appointments as far in advance as possible. The parties will continue to work with the mediator in addressing the GEO’s counterproposal when they meet again next week, on October 10, 2017, for another session.    

September 5, 2017 RE-CAP (12th Bargaining Session)

During this session, the University and the GEO reached tentative agreement on three additional articles, bringing the total number of tentative agreements to eight.  The articles on which tentative agreements were reached in this session relate to employee rights, dues and fair share deductions, and holidays and leaves, and include a new provision on immigration as well as revisions to the parental leave provision.
   
The parties also continued to discuss proposals relating to appointment terms, grievance procedures, distribution of information, and health and safety.  Regarding renewal of appointments, the University continues to strive for language that gives employees predictability while at the same time recognizing operational factors that also affect the timing of appointment notices.

Based upon a request made by the GEO at the end of the bargaining session, the parties intend to seek the use of a federal mediator for future negotiation sessions.   

August 24, 2017 RE-CAP (11th Bargaining Session)

The University presented a package counter-proposal addressing the issues previously raised by the GEO regarding the articles on employee rights, dues deduction and fair share, leaves and holidays, and child care.  The University responded to a number of questions raised by the GEO specific to the revised parental leave section.  Because the University provided the last counter proposal, we requested the GEO submit its written counter-proposal on these articles for the University to review.

The parties also resumed a discussion regarding the grievance and health and safety articles.  The University asked a number of clarifying questions about the GEO’s proposed language on the grievance procedures.  The University will review and seek to address the grievance and health and safety articles at the next bargaining session, which is scheduled for September 5, 2017.  

August 15, 2017 RE-CAP (10th Bargaining Session)

The session commenced with the University’s submission of a revised package counterproposal addressing employee rights, dues deductions and fair share, and leaves and holidays.  Consistent with the preceding session, the primary focus was on the language contained within the new proposed section on immigration.  As reflected in the continued dialogue on that section, the parties share a common interest in ensuring that our graduate employees are supported and provided necessary resources when confronted with an immigration matter that may impact their employment.

The GEO submitted a counterproposal relating to the establishment of a child care subsidy for eligible graduate employees, as well as a counterproposal relating to the grievance procedure.  The University will review those two counterproposals in preparation for the next bargaining session that is scheduled for August 24, 2017. 

August 8, 2017 RE-CAP (9th Bargaining Session)

The University is pleased to report that the parties were able to reach a tentative agreement on five articles within the collective bargaining agreement that address union recognition, nondiscrimination, evaluations, hours of work and expenses.

The parties also continued to discuss issues and proposed language relating to the articles on employee rights, dues deductions and fair share, and leaves and holidays, with a particular focus on a new immigration section that the GEO is seeking to have added to the article on leaves and holidays.  At the end of these discussions, the GEO submitted a counterproposal relating to the three articles, which the University will review and address at the next bargaining session scheduled for August 15, 2017.  Based on the ongoing discussions, the University is optimistic that a tentative agreement can be reached soon on those three articles as well.  

July 25, 2017 RE-CAP (8th Bargaining Session)

The University presented a package counter-proposal addressing the issues previously raised by the GEO regarding the articles on recognition, nondiscrimination, evaluations, hours of work and expenses.  Although the parties engaged in dialogue and made progress on each of the five articles, much of the focus was on the nondiscrimination article and which classifications should be deemed protected under that article.

The parties also resumed a discussion regarding the immigration and visa leave section of the article on leaves and holidays. After noting that the parties share a common interest in assisting graduate employees with immigration and visa issues, the University asked a number of clarifying questions.  The University remains committed to working with the GEO on drafting a mutually acceptable provision that addresses the complex concerns arising out of the immigration and visa process.

Towards the end of the bargaining session, the GEO submitted a package counter-proposal relating to employee rights, the use of pronouns, and health and safety, which the University will review and seek to address at the next bargaining session, which is scheduled for August 8, 2017.  

July 11, 2017 RE-CAP (7th Bargaining Session)

The University responded to a number of questions raised by the GEO at the last session relating to the University’s wage proposal, its financial status, and its current contract with the carrier providing health insurance to graduate students.

The GEO, in turn, submitted a package counter-proposal in response to the comprehensive proposal presented by the University at the last session. This counter-proposal reflected some agreement between the parties on certain provisions. In discussing their counter-proposals, the GEO offered some guidance on the importance placed on certain proposals by its constituents.

June 20, 2017 Re-Cap (6th Bargaining Session)

The University presented a comprehensive proposal addressing all of the issues raised within the negotiations, both economic and non-economic.  Because the University has responded to each of the proposals submitted by the GEO, the University is now seeking, and specifically requested, that the GEO submit its written counter-proposals for the University to review.

While the GEO raised concerns regarding the University’s proposal to modify the side letter in the collective bargaining agreement, the University continues to maintain that these modifications are necessary to restore the University's original intent of the side letter and to bring clarity to the administration of tuition waivers.  The University remains committed to continuing to offer tuition waiver generating assistantships to its graduate students as part of its ongoing efforts to attract and retain graduate students of the highest caliber. The University recognizes, though, that tuition waivers must be administered in a manner that does not put academic programs at risk and, thereby, diminish opportunities for students to participate in those programs.

The next bargaining session is scheduled for July 11, 2017.   

June 6, 2017 Re-Cap (5th Bargaining Session)

The University presented a prepared proposal relating to the side letter contained within the collective bargaining agreement. Because arbitrators have misconstrued the original intent behind the side letter, the University is seeking to modify the language of the side letter to add clarity and restore the original intent of the letter. Recognizing our continued commitment to attracting and retaining the best graduate students through competitive assistantship opportunities and corresponding tuition waivers, the proposal is not intended to diminish or reduce the tuition waivers offered to graduate students.

Despite having differing views on how to negotiate and address proposals, the University is satisfied with the progress being made in bargaining to date and recognizes that it shares with the GEO a common interest on a number of issues.

The parties will meet again on Tuesday, June 20, 2017, for their sixth bargaining session.

May 23, 2017 Re-Cap (4th Bargaining Session)

The University presented to the GEO a comprehensive proposal that addressed all of the non-economic issues that have been raised in the negotiations, and thereby responded to fourteen of nineteen total proposals.  The University confirmed that the five outstanding economic proposals that will be addressed in upcoming negotiation sessions relate to wages, fee waiver (a new provision proposed by the GEO), healthcare, child care (a new provision proposed by the GEO), and the side letter addressing tuition waivers.


Contact Information

Specific labor relations questions associated with Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants (Administrative) should be directed to:

Name Title Email Phone
Heather Horn Assistant Director hwilson@illinois.edu (217) 333-3105
Leslie Arvan Senior Director arvan@illinois.edu (217) 333-3105