Graduate Students Rally for Fair Contract
Students in the Graduate Employee’s Organization at the University of Illinois rallied Oct. 26 in an effort to persuade the university to give them what they would consider a fair worker’s contract. The GEO is pushing for a contract that would include a minimum teaching/graduate assistant salary at a living wage. Currently, the cost of living on campus for a graduate student is around $16,000 yet teaching assistants are only paid $13,400.
The rally was held outside a Conference on Graduate Education and the Economy, hosted by the Illinois Association of Graduate Schools.
Peter Campbell, Communications officer for the GEO, said, “We hope the rally this morning will continue to put pressure on the university administration, to make significant moves at the bargaining table for a fair contract.”
After 12 unsuccessful negotiating sessions, this is the tenth week the GEO has been working without a contract.
The thirteenth bargaining session was held Oct. 23, of which Campbell said, “It’s apparent to us that the pressure we’re putting on the administration is having an effect. There was some movement in negotiations on Friday which was not something we’ve seen in the past, but there’s still a really long way to go.”
Graduate student Ashley Howard, an employee in the history department and member of the GEO bargaining team said, “I’m really hoping that the university will stay true to its mission of learning and labor, and prioritizing the work of graduate employees that make this university run.”
The GEO voted unanimously on Oct. 8 to file an intent to strike notice.
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