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News Gazette–about the Strike

November 15, 2009

GEO announces strike at UI to begin at 8 a.m. Monday

By The News-Gazette
Sunday November 15, 2009

The union representing graduate and teaching assistants at the University of Illinois will go on strike at 8 a.m. Monday.

But the UI said the issue over which the strike was called is an “11th-hour” issue that had not been part of the negotiations until Saturday.

The union and the UI both said they had reached agreement on almost every issue in a six-hour bargaining session on Saturday.

But the union sought a guarantee of continued tuition waivers for graduate and teaching assistants, the GEO said.

In a news release with a time stamp of 3:37 a.m. Sunday, the Graduate Employees’ Organization said it would strike “against the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois” beginning at 8 Monday morning.

The UI said a tuition waiver guarantee had not been part of the contract discussions, saying that  “the GEO then made new and additional demands to the university regarding tuition waivers, and the GEO strike committee authorized a strike over those 11th-hour demands.”

On Saturday, before the strike had been announced, UI spokeswoman Robin Kaler said the more than 2,600 graduate and teaching assistants who are members of the GEO “are absolutely entitled” to strike.

In a news release on Sunday, the UI said it would not pay assistants who strike.

“Teaching assistants and graduate assistants who are in the bargaining unit represented by the GEO can choose to work or choose to strike, since the collective bargaining agreement has expired,” the UI said. “If they choose to work, they will be paid as usual.  As with any union-initiated strike action, employees who elect not to work as assigned cannot be paid.”

Teaching and graduate assistants have been working without a contract since Aug. 15.

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