The UIC Graduate Employees Organization (GEO), which represents Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants, remains far apart from the University administration on issues of salary, fees, and protections against workplace harassment, assault, and bullying. GEO intends to begin an indefinite strike on Monday, April 18th, 2022, assuming all the issues separating them are not resolved in their last bargaining session on April 14th. This guide describes how faculty can support GEO, as well as the legal rights of striking workers, which must be respected.
SUPPORTING GEO DURING THE STRIKE
The following activities are both legally permissible and recommended by UIC GEO and UICUF for faculty who wish to support striking graduate workers:
- Don’t perform, or hire replacement workers to perform, duties assigned to TAs or GAs.
- Participate in their letter-writing campaign and forward this request to colleagues and students.
- Donate to GEO’s strike fund.
- Join GEO members on picket lines when not working. You can show up at the Quad between 9 am and 4 pm for directions on where you are most needed.
- Talk to students about why GEO is striking, including fair wages, fee waivers, and protection against harassment, assault, and bullying.
- Use a GEO zoom profile image, which you may download here.
- Avoid crossing picket lines between 9 am and 4 pm (locations of the pickets below)
- Consider alternative forms of teaching (e.g., online/virtual)
- Move classes to either evening hours, to an off-campus location, or to non-struck buildings, if possible and allowed under your unit’s policy.
- If you do need to cross the line, join the line first to express your support.
RESPECTING THE LEGAL RIGHTS OF GRAD WORKERS DURING THE STRIKE
Union membership, organizing in the workplace, and taking part in a strike are all legally protected activities. Broadly, participation in these activities cannot be punished, interfered with, restrained, or discouraged by an employer. We recommend that faculty be especially mindful of the following legal protections for striking grad workers:
- It is a violation of the UICUF collective bargaining agreement with the University for faculty covered by that agreement to be asked to perform any duties of striking graduate workers.
- It is unlawful to fire, discipline, or retaliate against grad workers for participating in a strike or union activity.
- It is unlawful to ask grad workers to inform anyone in advance of participating in a strike or union activity.
- It is unlawful to record or threaten to record the names of grad workers participating in a strike or union activity.
- It is unlawful to discriminate against, restrain, or coerce grad workers regarding union membership or activity.
In some University communications to faculty, it has been suggested that faculty and heads/chairs may choose to cover graduate student duties such as grading or covering labs/discussions on a case-by-case basis. However, the UICUF contract protects faculty from being required to cover the duties of striking workers. If you are asked to do so, please inform union leadership at UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.
- University Hall (UH)
- Lecture Centers A, B, C, D, E, and F
- Grant, Douglas, Lincoln, Taft, Burnham, Adams, and Stevenson Halls (GH, DH, LH, TH, BH, AH, SH)
- Science and Engineering Labs (SEL)
As fellow union members, we thank you in advance for respecting the rights of organized graduate employees during any upcoming labor actions, and encourage you to lend your support outside the classroom as you are able.
If you have any questions or wish to share information you are receiving from the University administration, please email UICUnitedFaculty@gmail.com.
UIC United Faculty Leadership