Graduate students rally, support contract negotiations

About 50 members of the Graduate Employees Organization rallied outside the Edward R. Madigan Laboratory, 1201 W. Gregory Dr., Monday morning in support of the first day of federally mediated negotiations taking place inside.

The rally took place between 8:45 a.m. and 9 a.m. as mediations between members of the University administration and the GEO bargaining unit began.

Monday’s negotiations are the next step in the ongoing division between the Graduate Employees Organization and the University over contract issues including wages, health care and child care.

“We just want to be sure they (the University) hears our concerns and that contract negotiations move forward,” said Supreet Saini, member of GEO. “These are pretty fair demands.”

Cheers rose from the crowd as the members of the graduate student organization’s bargaining group entered the building. The members chanted, raised signs and plays drums throughout the protest to make their voices heard.

“Who are we? GEO. Are we ‘gonna back down? Hell no,” the group chanted.

Several members wore shirts that read “United we bargain, divided we beg.”

“This is important to anyone who teaches as a graduate assistant,” said Stacy Kelley, member of the GEO. “Issues like child care and health care are important to all of us.”

John Gergely, one of the more vocal members of GEO, spoke into the megaphone and led the groups chants throughout much of the rally.

“So far its been difficult to get the University to respond,” Gergely said. “We hope that with this mediation we will be able to push the discussion forward. I’m optimistic.”