GEO Solidarity Counts: University Repays Thousands it Owes Graduate Employees

University Repays Thousands it Owes Graduate Employees by Graduate Employees' Organaziation Last week, 43 graduate employees at the University of Illinois received a much deserved pay raise. In accordance with the ruling of an independent arbitrator, the University of Illinois administration paid these graduate employees up to 15 months of back wages and will begin paying them an additional 9% each month. This adjustment in pay will correct the administration’s misreading of the wage language in its labor agreement with the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO), American Federation of Teachers Local 6300. This arbitration ruling stemmed from a grievance filed by the union in December 2005, which argued that the University was failing to pay graduate employees with 12-month appointments the appropriate wage. After Administrators dismissed the GEO’s argument, the union was forced to take the grievance to an independent arbitrator. The arbitrator, Edwin Benn, quickly ruled that the administration had violated its agreement with the GEO and should begin paying its 12-month graduate employees in accordance with the GEO contract in addition to providing back wages to all those affected. Upon hearing the news that the administration was planning to pay the graduate employees what it had promised in the GEO agreement, GEO co-president, Andrew O’Baoill said, “This is a major victory for the collective strength of the GEO and proof that fighting for and defending our contractual rights is why we have a union.” Perry Trolard, one of the graduate employees affected by the ruling, added, “I’m really glad that the arbitrator is forcing the University Administration to abide by the contract. It’s also good to know that the GEO is here to insure that the rights of graduate employees are well protected.” The University and the GEO are currently negotiating a new contract; their last contract expired in August 2006. The arbitrator’s ruling will remain in affect, however, insuring that all of the graduate employees protected by the labor agreement will continue to be paid correctly.

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