GEO's Guide to the Faculty Strike

January 14th, 2023

UIC United Faculty, the union representing our faculty colleagues, has one more bargaining session with the university this Monday, January 16th, before going on strike. Key outstanding issues include minimum salaries, non-tenure track job security, and mental health resources for students.

Thursday night the university sent us an email in which they claimed UICUF was citing student mental health as a rationale for their salary demands. This is objectively false and an uncharacteristically bold lie for the university. Independent of their salary proposals, UICUF is demanding that the university provide free disability assessments and expanded mental health resources to students–demands that would greatly improve the lives of many undergraduate and graduate students alike.

If management keeps it up, the faculty will be going on strike on Tuesday. And they will win. Here’s what we can do to make sure they win quickly:

We’re sure you still have a lot of questions about what a faculty strike could mean for you. We've tried our best to answer all your questions below, but if not, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at

FAQ: What do I do if the faculty go on strike?
The following is GEO’s guidance to graduate workers who work with faculty in the event of a faculty strike.

Q: Can I strike too?
A: Unfortunately, no–even if you’re an instructor of record. Only those represented by United Faculty have the right to strike and the protections that come with it.

Q: What do I do if my classroom/jobsite is on the other side of a picket line?
A: UF recognizes that you may have to cross picket lines since you can’t sympathy strike, but they urge you to do so as little as possible and make up for it by walking their picket lines whenever you’re able.

Q: What if my supervisor goes on strike and I’m not assigned work?
A: That’s fine and shouldn’t be considered a sympathy strike. The hours of work for our positions are averages. You might have less work during the strike if your supervisor doesn’t have work to assign you, but you might have to work a little bit more afterwards to get you back to average.

Q: What if I’m told to do faculty work?
A: There’s an old mantra in the union world: comply now, grieve later. If your department head emails you and says, “We need you to cover for a striking faculty member,” you unfortunately have to comply–if it’s an order. You should clarify whether you’re being ordered to cover the work, and if so, find the best compromise between your conscience and the letter of the law. Additionally, let us know immediately at We have contractual and legal workload protections, and we want to exercise them as much as aggressively as possible.

Q: What about research labs that keep living things alive (or handle other urgent things)?
A: United Faculty is telling their members that if their research involves keeping things alive (or similarly urgent matters) that they should continue to complete these job duties during the strike.

Q: What can I do to support the strike?
A: UF may be asking the UIC community for specific forms of support later on–we’ll be sure to let you know what and when. Right now, there are a few good ways to support. You can send a letter to Chancellor Reyes telling him to settle a fair contract now. You can learn more about the state of bargaining. You can tell your faculty colleagues you support their strike. And when the faculty go on strike, join them on the picket lines! Sign up for a picket shift here!

Q: Can I walk the picket lines?
A: Just in case you didn’t read the last one carefully, yes! Please come on out to the faculty picket lines!

Q: When and where are the pickets?

A: There’ll be pickets 10:00-12:00 and 1:00-3:00 every weekday starting Tuesday, January 17th. There will be picket lines at UH, SES, and the Lecture Centers. Sign up for a picket shift here! There will also be rallies every day at 12:00pm.