SEC meeting addresses GEO demands


Adam Zhang

The Senate Executive Committee meets in the Natural History Building on Feb. 26.

By Mengjia Xu, Contributing writer

Monday’s Senate Executive Committee meeting featured conversation about the ongoing Graduate Employees’ Organization strike on campus.

William Bernhard, vice provost for academic affairs, summarized the proposals to the GEO. He said the University has negotiated in good faith and is putting forward proposals that are respectful and responsible.

“The current proposal demonstrates significant movement to addresses the issues the GEO has indicated to us that are most important to them,” Bernhard said.

The GEO said the protection of tuition waivers for their members is critical. Bernhard said the current proposal explicitly guarantees tuition waivers for members of the bargaining unit, which offers clear protection and eligibility for student laborers.

The proposal also offers a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage for graduate teaching assistants’ salaries and an additional 3 percent increase for first-year reappointed students.

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Health insurance support is another priority for the GEO. Bernhard said the proposal offers  to increase the percentage of employer contribution to the student health insurance fee from 80 percent to 87 percent.

Bernhard said the University shares a common agreement with the GEO and hopes to achieve a final goal quickly.

“We listen to the concerns of GEO. We place generous and sincere proposals to probably address those concerns,” he said. “We are ready to resume bargaining as soon as possible. And we hope to reach an agreement to end the strike as quickly as possible.”

Bernhard said classes are meeting as scheduled and departments are ensuring substitute instructors are put in place during the GEO strike.

“We had a commitment to continue to provide our undergraduates the educational experience we promised them and reach the minimum amount of possible disruption,” he said.

Bettina Francis, SEC chair, said the GEO strike reminded her of the unrest that happened in 1968.

“I hope it can be seen as history rather than continuing problems,” Francis said.

Editor’s note: Keep up with The Daily Illini for coverage as the strike continues.

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