The Primate Diaries

As I posted earlier, graduate teaching assistants at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had voted to authorize a strike unless the university negotiated with them in good faith. It appears that this strike was a success because at 7pm EST tonight the Strike Committee of the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) at UIUC unanimously voted to suspend the strike that had brought the University to a standstill for two days. According to a press release posted at GEO’s website the agreement with the university “achieved gains across all four “pillars” of its original contract platform.”

To understand some of the reasons why this strike came to be in the first place GEO Member Kerry Pimblott offered the following impassioned speech in the buildup to this weeks actions.

According to GEO’s press release, the following points were agreed to with the university:

In addition to winning protection for tuition waivers through the strike, the GEO secured an additional two weeks of unpaid parental leave, increases to the University’s contribution to health care premiums (reaching 75% in the third and final year of the contract), and raises on the minimum salary, totaling ten percent over three years. The GEO also forced the administration to drop their regressive contract proposals, including furloughs, “in-kind” payment, a recision of grievances related to discrimination, and a “scope of the agreement” clause that would have prevented the GEO from re-opening bargaining in the event of a change to employment conditions for graduate employees at UIUC.


  1. #1 rb
    November 18, 2009

    the outcome here underscores why science students (who generally get better deals than the humanities students) need to support the unions. Its not always about the salary, its the benefits, like health coverage. WHen I was at Wisconsin, the humanities students got all grad students counted as provisional state employees, which meant great health benefits. SOmething I lost when I went to a postdoc at a lesser state institution and even in my faculty appointments.

  2. #2 fred
    November 18, 2009

    I work on campus and I sympathize with the GEO and their quest to get the administration to be fair. To say the strike brought the campus to a standstill is a gross misrepresentation. Very few classes were canceled or disrupted.

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