April 1,  2010

You may have seen the email this morning from John Loya, Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and R. Michael Tanner, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, regarding contract negotiations between the GEO and the UIC administration. We are writing to clarify some of their points.

Through the use of federal mediation, the union and the university have come to agreement on several important provisions, including clearer and more timely appointment letters, improvements in class size contract language, and more transparency in departmental appointment and re-appointment criteria. We’re happy that we have come closer to agreement on many of these outstanding issues. The university’s recent offer of greater subsidies for health care is also step in the right direction, but we are well aware that these subsidies cannot provide greater economic security if the administration retains the right to offset them by diminishing our tuition waivers and increasing tuition differentials.

Given that reality, we wondered why Loya and Tanner’s email mentioned nothing about the key outstanding issues that the GEO is negotiating for: tuition waiver security, and a say in tuition differentials. After a year of negotiations, the UIC administration must know that these are the major issues for GEO members, and that waivers and differentials remain the issues that GEO members are considering striking over.

Given that securing tuition waivers would cost the university nothing, their appeals to the University’s financial hardship are disingenuous at best. In fact, we are well aware of the university’s hardship, and this is the reason that it is so important for us to protect what we have now.

The university’s most recent proposal on waivers and differentials would be a step backward, and would make our waivers less secure than they are, and do nothing to give us a say in tuition differentials. If we accepted their proposed contract language on waivers and differentials, departments would be able to grant partial waivers, limit waivers to certain classes of students (such as only granting waivers to PhD students), or otherwise restrict waivers in ways that would threaten our future here at UIC.

The GEO bargaining team remains committed to reaching an agreement with the university which includes tuition waiver protection and gives us a say in tuition differentials on Monday.

Remember that we will deliver this message at our RALLY on Monday at 8:00 AM on the campus side of Student Center East. We know 8:00 is an early time for a rally, but this is our last opportunity to keep grads at UIC off the picket lines and in the classroom, so please come ready to chant and cheer in support of a contract for grad employees which includes tuition waiver protection and gives us a say in tuition differentials. Invite your undergraduates and faculty members to rally with us.

Also come to the EMERGENCY STRIKE MEETING today at 5:00 PM in SCE room 302 to cast your vote on whether GEO members will go on strike next week. Online voting will be available this afternoon, with instructions forthcoming.