Labor Updates and Resources

2022 GEO Negotiations

April 28, 2022 Bargaining Session Recap
(3rd Bargaining Session)

On April 28, 2022, the GEO and the University met for the third time via Zoom in the combined effort to negotiate a successor agreement.   The negotiation session lasted two (2) hours.  The session began with the GEO presenting a new proposal for the parties’ negotiation ground rules.  The primary issues separating the parties from reaching an agreement on the ground rules is the size and location of in-person bargaining sessions and the GEO’s continue desire to have an online component for in-person negotiations.  The GEO previously requested that an in-person negotiation room have enough space for up to 160 GEO bargaining unit members.   The University intends to respond to the latest ground rule proposal in the next bargaining session. 

The next portion of the negotiations dealt with the University asking specific questions related to the GEO’s proposal on the make-up of the bargaining unit.  The questions dealt with proposed changes to the scope of the bargaining unit.  The University stressed that changes to a bargaining unit’s make-up are permissive in nature and the University is not under any obligation to negotiate over the make-up of the bargaining unit.   One of the primary concerns the University has with the GEO’s proposal is the removal of the requirement that a graduate assistant or teaching assistant remain “in good standing.”     The parties then discussed the union’s significant modifications to the Nondiscrimination Statement.  The GEO proposed adding the following new protected statuses:  parental status, union affiliation or activities, political affiliation or beliefs, medical conditions, and political affiliation or beliefs, all of which extend beyond the federal and state requirements and current university policy for protected classes. Additionally, the parties discussed the University’s procedures in responding to claims of discrimination and harassment.    Next, the University asked a series of questions related to the GEO’s desire to remove the “good academic standing” requirement for assistantship appointments.  Then the University’s representatives stressed that this proposed modification does not align with university policy and is not in the University’s best interest.  

After a caucus, the GEO asked a couple of questions related to the University’s initial non-economic proposal.   The GEO also stressed the desire for the University to provide an economic proposal.  The University’s chief negotiator explained that an economic counterproposal would not be forthcoming in the next few sessions; because the University needs to have a full understanding of the GEO’s proposals in order to respond appropriately.   The GEO’s initial proposal is thirty-six (36) pages compared to the University’s seven (7) page proposal.   At the conclusion of this session, the parties have discussed a total of four (4) pages of the union’s proposal.

The session concluded with discussion of future negotiation dates.  The University reiterated its position to negotiate on a set schedule every two (2) weeks.  The GEO did not agree to that request. The parties did agree the next session will be Wednesday, May 25th from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. via Zoom.  

April 1, 2022 Bargaining Session Recap
(2nd Bargaining Session)

The Parties met for approximately two hours via Zoom. The Union began the session by presenting a proposal regarding ground rules, which appeared to be identical to its previous proposal. The Union also submitted an information request with multiple questions related to healthcare. The University presented its counter proposal on ground rules, after which the Union requested a caucus. After a caucus of approximately 20 minutes, the Union requested to table the ground rules discussion, yet continued to ask questions regarding the University’s rejection of the Union’s proposal for a hybrid model for in-person bargaining sessions. The Parties agreed that the next session would again be held via Zoom. The Union also asked clarifying questions regarding the University’s proposal that captioning used in Zoom sessions could only be used for the purposes of accessibility and could not be saved or copied to use for other purposes. The Union again requested a caucus, which lasted approximately 13 minutes.

Upon returning from caucus, the University presented its initial proposals, which included a comprehensive non-economic proposal. Changes proposed by the University included the following: changing references to “Academic Human Resources” to “Illinois Human Resources” and references to the ”Office of Diversity, Equity, and Access” to the “Office for Access and Equity”; incorporating previous side letters regarding remedies for late appointment letters and union orientation into the contract; removing references to Fair Share from the contract, in accordance with the Janus v. AFSCME decision; and for grievances to be submitted directly to the Senior Director of Labor and Employee Relations – Illinois Human Resources, rather than to the Associate Provost for Human Resources (now the Senior Associate Chancellor for Human Resources).

After the University presented its proposal, the Union questioned why the University did not make an economic proposal, and the University responded that it proposed the changes it wanted to see, as the Union had done in the previous session. The Union requested a third caucus, which lasted approximately 26 minutes. Following the caucus, the Union continued to question why the University did not provide what the Union believed to be a comprehensive proposal, since it did not include articles that would remain status quo. The University again explained that it put forth the changes it wanted to see and noted that it had a lot of questions regarding the Union’s initial proposals. The University attempted to ask those questions, but the Union continued to request a “full proposal,” including status quo language. The University explained that it had presented its proposal and was bargaining in good faith, per the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act. The Union requested another caucus, and the University pointed out that there were only 15 minutes left in the session, and that the Union’s caucuses had been lasting longer than that. The Parties discussed dates for the next meeting. The University requested to meet every two weeks and to schedule the next few sessions, but the Union was not prepared to do so. The Parties agreed to meet on the afternoon of April 28 for their third session.

March 7, 2022 Bargaining Session Recap (1st Bargaining Session)

The parties met for approximately four hours via Zoom, with the Union proposing ground rules to start the session. The University presented its counter proposal regarding ground rules, which was then countered by the Union. The University proposed, in the interest of time, that the Union continue with its presentation of its full contract proposal, and the University will respond to the Union’s counter proposal in the next bargaining session. Following a pause for introductions of the University’s bargaining team, the Union presented its full proposal. The Union proposed numerous significant changes to the contract including, among other items, additions to the non-discrimination clause, grievance procedure for end of semester non-reappointments, removal of the good academic standing requirement, mandatory in-person training, limits on oral English proficiency, maximum weekly work caps, University paid GEO employees, access to physical and digital bulletin boards, University provided internet access and personal protective equipment, worker choice on remote work, intellectual property of curricula and course work created or developed by graduate workers, significant wage increases, no required fees, changes to tuition waivers, full coverage of student and dependent health, dental, and vision insurance, childcare subsidies and automatic enrollment in University childcare facilities, increased vacation days and parental leave, restrictions on police entering graduate workspaces and right to request non-police civilian responders, and Student Code protection related to union activity and union representation on OSCR Graduate Student Conduct subcommittee. To end the session, the parties discussed scheduling the next session and agreed to meet for two hours on the afternoon of April 1.

Contact Information

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

Name Title Email Phone
Robb Craddock Senior Director (217) 333-3105