- About Us
- Get Involved
- Our Projects
- Affiliated Projects
- Support Us
- Our Building
Despite the rain and cold, hundreds showed up on Monday, November 16, 2009 to join picket lines thrown up around several buildings on the quad at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After negotiations broke down over the weekend, the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) called for a strike. They have been without a contract for more than three months.
In the morning, picket lines were set up at all entrances of Gregory Hall, Foellinger Auditorium, Davenport Hall, the Foreign Languages Building, and the English Building. Hundreds of classes were cancelled across campus and all of the classes in the English Building were called off. GEO members marched in circles and joined in chants that could be heard from inside the buildings. The GEO drum corps travelled to each building to keep the picket lines inspired with live drumming. A trombone player joined them playing to the tune of the 1980s pop song, “I Want Candy,” which GEO members adapted to, “I Want Contract!”
During the afternoon, two massive picket lines were formed outside Davenport and the English Building. At 3 p.m., the two lines combined and between 400 and 500 people marched to the Swanlund Administration Building where the offices of Public Affairs Director Robin Kaler and Interim Chancellor Robert Easter are located. There GEO activist Rich Potter gave a rousing speech calling on the administration to guarantee tuition waivers.
The key sticking point in contract negotiations over the weekend was the issue of tuition waivers. The University administration wanted to leave open the option of eliminating tuition waivers specifically for out of state students. The administration said in a mass email sent out to the entire campus on the day of the strike, “the university has no plans to change current policy on tuitions wavers,” yet they were unwilling to put this in writing during contract negotiations. Instead, they said in an earlier message that this was an “eleventh hour” issue brought up by the GEO. In fact, this was a move already made by the administration in late 2008 when they tried to cut tuition waivers for graduate students working at 33% time, but due to protests on the quad the proposal was dropped. They tried to do something similar for out of state students in the most recent negotiations.
Picket lines will resume on Tuesday at 8 a.m. It is important that everyone shows up for a second day of picketing to put pressure on the administration to sign a contract.
Another round of bargaining is set to take place at 9 a.m. on Tuesday. A General Membership Meeting will be held Tuesday from 5-8 p.m. at the Wesley United Methodist Church located in which GEO members will vote to accept a possible proposal and whether to continue the strike.