RAs HAVE a union!

From March 4th-7th, Research Assistants voted on whether or not to unionize with GEO. The vote was unanimous–not a single Research Assistant voted against unionization. This represents the culmination of years of work and hundreds of conversations with our coworkers about our working conditions in departments across East and West campus. All of that work revealed one thing: RAs need a union. Now RAs have a union.

Keep your eyes peeled for updates about bargaining!

RAs Need a Union! 

Until recently, Illinois law prevented Research Assistants from joining a union. When that changed, RAs became able to choose a union–we think GEO should be that union. GEO represents TAs and GAs here at UIC, and RAs aren’t currently guaranteed any of the benefits or protections of the GEO contract. This semester, we’re running a campaign to bring RAs into our union.

We're organizing RAs with a petition strategy. If enough RAs sign the petition to unionize, the decision will go to a vote. If the majority of voters say "yes", RAs will be able to join the union.

Why should RAs unionize?

RAs need to join the union so they are guaranteed the same benefits or raises that GEO wins for Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants with every contract.

If they are not part of the union, RAs are not guaranteed future benefits won by the GEO, including:

Here are what some UIC RA’s, who have already signed the petition, think about the importance of joining the union:

“I believe RA’s need to be part of the union because we deserve a fair and livable wage. I work well over 40 hours a week putting my labor towards research that brings benefits to the university. I should not have to carry the financial stress of living paycheck to paycheck.” 

“I'm a Research Assistant at UIC, and I’ve signed the petition because I believe that RA's contribution to scientific progress should be identified as "work." We do vital work for the university, and we should be protected by the Union, instead of being exposed to risks.”


What is the union/The GEO?

The GEO is UIC’s graduate union, which represents Teaching Assistants (TAs) and Graduate Assistants (GAs). We negotiate a contract with the university that governs TA and GA wages, workloads, benefits, and much more. We also represent graduate workers in disputes with their employers and when their rights have been violated in the workplace.

Am I already part of the union?

If you’re a Research Assistant at UIC this semester, you are not currently part of the union. If you’re a TA or GA, feel free to reach out to staff@uicgeo.org to check if you’re a member yet!

Will Research Assistants be required to teach if they join the union?

No. Your position as a RA would not change if you were to join GEO. Your work duties will still line up with what you accepted on your offer letter.

If I currently get paid more than the minimum, would I take a pay cut if Research Assistants unionize?

No! We have language in our contract that ensures you will never get paid less than what you currently make. GEO currently represents TAs and GAs that receive more than the minimum listed in the contract.

Does joining the union involve a time commitment?

No. But you can always get involved if you’d like too!

How do we add RAs to our union?

The process is dictated by labor laws.

Step 1: Gather petition signatures. We need at least 30% of all RAs to sign our petition so we can hold a vote.

Step 2: Hold a vote. Hold a vote among RAs where 50% of voters must say YES to give RAs the choice to join the union

Step 3: Bargain a new temporary contract for now, then a long-term one alongside TAs and GAs when their contract is up.

I have more questions. Who should I contact for more information?

Reach out to geo@uicgeo.org with any other questions or concerns.

I want to help. How can I get involved with the RA campaign?

Reach out to organizing@uicgeo.org! This semester, we’re looking for people to help us reach more RA’s via tabling, phone banking and petition collecting. If you’re an RA and you’ve already signed our petition, you can also help us by talking to your fellow RA’s about our campaign.

Are you a RA this semester? Please fill out this google form to schedule a time to sign the petition. 

Every signature is one step closer to guaranteed benefits for RAs!