Illinois Students Strike for Tuition Security

November 16th, 2009 by Christian

geoThe IFT/AFT Local 6300 AFL-CIO is on strike as of 8:00 a.m.  Picket lines run 8-5 today.  The union voted 92% yes for a strike.  Visit a strike coordinator in the University YMCA to find out where to go.

The Campus Faculty Association stands in support of the GEO.  The CFA has asked faculty to cancel classes and not to cross picket lines.  Faculty “We Support the GEO” picket signs are available at the picket lines.

Catherine Predergast (Professor of English) has this to say about the situation:

As it stands, TAs in many departments here are already drastically underpaid compared with what other schools in the CIC offer.  For example, one course in freshman composition is calculated to consume 17 hours of a TAs time per week at the University of Wisconsin. At the University of Illinois, that same course, which I direct, is only calculated to consume 13 hours. The real losers here are our undergraduate students. Why should they accept four hours less per week of instructional time than they would get at Wisconsin? If the University were to tinker with tuition waivers, whether in-state, or out-of-state, thus even further down-grading its support to graduate students, you might as well rename this  East Central University of Illinois, so shattering would be the consequence to the UofI’s R1 status. I think the GEO’s version of the language on tuition waivers is by far clearer than what the university has proposed, and should be accepted.   Please invest in this university:  Approve the GEO contract.

Many graduate students receive free tuition (called a tuition waiver) as part of their compensation.  This strike comes about after the administration failed to guarantee the security of these waivers in the future.  TAs rightfully have the jitters on that topic: rumors have been circulating about an impending overhaul in the tuition waiver system.  Undergraduate TAs in Chemistry recently had their teaching waivers revoked as a cost saving measure.  (One of them is our babysitter.)

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EO facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/GEO/171984109397

You can help!  Phone numbers and script for calls for support:
http://funferal.org/blog/2009/11/15/geo-strikes-and-seeks-help-from-you/

Longer blog post summarizing the situation and the strike:
http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/the_education_of_oronte_churm/strike_at_illinois (This post also points out that the last time Grad Students were on strike the results were disastrous for adjunct faculty on our campus.)

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