University of Illinois at Chicago grad student union pushes sellout contract


University of Illinois at Chicago grad student union pushes sellout contract

Andy Thompson

8 April 2019

On Friday, April 5, the strike by 1,600 University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) graduate students was called off by the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) Local 6297 after the union reached a tentative contract agreement with UIC administration. The union told grad students to return to work today even before voting on the deal. Grad students are reportedly voting Monday night.

The GEO, which is an affiliate of the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), called the strike on March 19, six months after the previous contract expired.

The proposed three-year deal increases the campus minimum salary by $2,550 over three years. Grad students will also receive an additional $55 each semester to offset the cost of a $50 increase in the general student fee next year. Grad students in the 2020-2021 school year will receive a one-time $150 raise. The cost of the University provided healthcare dropped slightly from $295 to $240. The university will cover 20 percent of the cost of one dependent and 10 percent of the cost for additional dependents.

The agreement does nothing to address the central demands of grad students to totally waive the fees and increase pay to provide a reasonable standard of living in one of the costliest cities in America. The raise will be swallowed up by the fees that grad students have to pay in full at the beginning of each year. The $18,140 salary is far below the original GEO demand for $24,000 per year, which was below the estimated minimum cost of living in Chicago of $28,000 per year.

The GEO reached the sellout agreement just as the strike was gaining support from different areas of the campus….

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