Graduate Employee Organization (GEO)

View all blog posts under Videos

The University of Illinois at Chicago Online GEO Orientation Presentation


Geo is the graduate employees organization the member run labor union

union that represents all the teaching assistants and graduate assistants

at uic who have appointments between 25

and 67 percent

representing tas and gas means that we

bargain a contract through a formal

legal process with the uic


generally every three years and the

contract lasts for about three years

and it covers all the 1600 tas and gas

on campus

it means that we also defend that

contract against violations through a

formal legal process called the

grievance process

so if you ever have a workplace issue

we’re who you contact

and you can do that by googling our

website you can just google uic geo

and it will pull it up and you can

contact any of the officers or staff

listed there

how we operate geo is member driven

this means that officers are elected

from the membership

and the union is run entirely by and for

the members

there’s only one staff person myself

and i answer to the membership

it means there are committees and

caucuses there’s the grievance committee

the organizing committee the stewards

committee we have various committees

we also have an international caucus for

international students organized around

issues specific to their needs and you

can join as an international member

there’s no

prohibition on joining and it does not

affect your visa

status and we have a robust

international membership here

we vote on issues including the contract

so the membership has to approve the

contact contract we negotiate

if they don’t it sends the bargaining

team back to the table

and again we bargain that contract

through formal negotiations with the

administration but we

do it in a very open way so that the

general membership

can attend those meetings and


we also represent geo members in the

contractual grievance process i

mentioned earlier

and we organized to take collective

action on major issues that are

important to us

so recent issues that we’ve taken

collective action on have been

related to things such as the travel ban

for international students

we’re a social justice union so we

organize around lots of issues

you have rights as a worker you have

rights and as

your union we work together to fight for

those rights and to improve our


and we do that to everyone participating

the union is not the officers

or the staff person or the most active

members it’s everyone

so we collectively bargain a contract

that includes items like health care

wages and raises protections against


paid sick leave personal day and

parental leave

and a grievance procedure those are just

some of the items

and we not only have to negotiate raises

and new

wins but we also have to defend things

we’ve already won

so our sister union in urbana-champaign

had to go on strike in 2018

in order to defend tuition waivers the

same university system that we bargained


tried to take away the tuition waivers

and again we are able to win new things

and protect existing things

only through member participation so

we win things in bargaining not through

our rhetoric

but through having lots and lots and

lots of geo members

and having them participate in the

actions we take

for our contract campaign so we win

through having high membership members

and through organizing

we also have that grievance process that

i mentioned earlier you can contact us

at grievance

uic geo dot net

if you have an issue

what we’ve won we negotiated a new

contract in april of 2019

after over a year of bargaining and


we went on strike for nearly three weeks

to win the following

in a historic contract the largest

raisins in our history

nearly double what we’ve previously won

reduction in fees

and fee freezes which then caused other

grand unions to start organizing around

those issues too more health care


transparency and appointment and

reappointment processes

so that people know why they are or not

getting renewed

and additional non-discrimination

protections and everyone should know

that we’ll start bargaining again this


what we’ve won outside of the regular

contract we’ve won

protections around the covit 19


through impact bargaining which inside

higher ed wrote an article about

because we were one of the first grad

unions to do so and now others have

followed in our footsteps

we won free summer dorms for

international students because they were

stuck in the country

and unable to earn a living or take out

student loans

we won 100 coverage of emergency room er

expenses we won full campus care

coverage for covid related care

we won mental health teletherapy so that

people could receive

mental health services remotely we won

the creation of hundreds of new jobs

during the summer especially for those

international students who were stranded

in the country

we won mass for every worker this fall

the option to opt out of a bus pass for

those who prefer to drive in order to

limit their exposure to the virus

and a process to apply for one-year

funding extensions

and a commitment to funding because

on-site research was disrupted by copen

and i would say that it’s absolutely

critical that everyone join

their union at any time you know any any


but it’s doubly important right now

while we’re in the covid crisis

info on joining in order to join you

fill out and sign a membership card

which i’ll show you in a minute

members pay 2.4 percent of each paycheck

in membership

dues dues are fees that are

paid to the union to cover the cost of


your membership is ongoing though it

goes on pause

anytime you’re not in the bargaining

unit so basically anytime that you’re

not employed

um but as long as you’re employed then

it’s continuous during that employment

and the dues are deducted automatically

and there’s a window that opens up each


when you can write us to drop your

membership if you choose

joining doesn’t require you to do

anything so you’re not

committed to any form of participation

though the more actively involved you

are the stronger the union is

ways to be involved include attending

our occasional membership meetings

for the general membership where we vote

and do other things

participating in actions for the

bargaining campaigns

issue campaigns etc and i’d say if

there’s nothing else that you do as a

member that’s the

single most important thing you can do

is to participate in the actions we take

to win more for you and everyone else

and you can become a steward in your

department stewards are sort of the

lifeblood of the union

they convey info between leadership and

general membership and help plan

however you don’t have to know anything

to become a steward and if you’re in

your first year that’s

great because that means you’ll be here

for a while we help people learn

and we do everything together as a

community if you’re interested in

becoming a steward

just email me at uic

geo dawn

how we use dues dues are used for the

following to pay for the only staff

person myself

whose work in supporting the union is


so i have years of organizing and

bargaining and grievance experience and

advise and assist the members with that


to pay for legal counsel on major issues

we sometimes have to consult our labor


for bargaining and grievance issues to

write an office space where we can meet

this is where we do our planning

and to pay for communications and

materials including for the fall social

which will be held by zoom this year for

safety reasons

on september 2nd from 5 to 7 pm

and the zoom link is here you can just

copy that down we will also be sending

out an

email to everyone once you receive all

of your email addresses from the


so that is september 2nd 5 to 7 pm

and again link is there for you to copy

down and

we will be talking about various things

and hopefully having fun

a reminder dues are 2.4 of each paycheck

and this is the only funding we receive

making high membership

extra important why you should join

we are stronger together we will win

more in the future

the stronger we are more fee relief

higher wages

better health care coverage our power at

the bargaining table and elsewhere is

directly equivalent to the number of

members we have

the union isn’t the officers it’s not

the staff

it’s not the activists it’s all of the


so our power again is directly

equivalent to how many members we have

just like other unions we only operate

on member dues and are completely

separate from the university

these allow us to be able to continue

fighting for a better workplace for all

of us

without dues there is no union joining

the union

means you have a voice and you fight for

the rights you deserve

collectively with your colleagues

including throughout the pandemic

how you join so i’m going to give you

the joining information

and then i’m going to give you a few

minutes of silence to go ahead and fill

out your membership card

so you join geo by going to

h t t p s

colon forward slash forward slash

tiny url that’s t is in tom

i is in iguana n is in nancy y is in


u as in umbrella r is in rascal l is in


dot com forward slash

y is in your c is in cat

six p is in paul two

as an umbrella v as in dog


so once you go to that site you you’ll

fill out the

required information on the electronic

membership card

it takes about three minutes and then

the secure site

will send us your card so i’m going to

go ahead and give you a few minutes of

silence now to go ahead and fill that out


i’m foreign





that’s the end of our presentation thank you!

you can learn more at

that’s our website

if you’ve joined welcome to your union

English (auto-generated)