GEO left ‘devastated’ after failed contract bargaining


Piotr Fedczuk

The Graduate Employees’ Organization held a press conference near the Illini Union after bargaining sessions with the University about economic proposals and labor contracts.

By Layli Nazarova, Staff writer

On Thursday, the Graduate Employees’ Organization held a press conference near the Illini Union after the University refused to negotiate on economic articles. 

“During today’s bargaining session, the administration decided not to respond to our specific economic proposal around wages and health care,” said GEO co-president Karla Sanabria Véaz. “Despite claiming to want to talk about economic issues since August 2022 and knowing in advance that this was our intention for today.”

The GEO has had over 20 bargaining sessions with the University administration since last spring to get a fair labor contract, including a 9-10% wage increase and free year-round healthcare. 

During their bargaining sessions in January, GEO made progress, achieving tentative agreements on seven articles. 

However, the progress did not last long after the administration statement yesterday. GEO leaders said they will take action if needed, considering the possibility of a strike.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

“The administration is the one forcing us to consider this decision,” Sanabria Véaz said. “We’re going to take all the needs necessary to make sure that our members are heard and we get a fair contract.”

Sanabria Véaz emphasized how “frustrated” GEO members were after the bargaining session and what graduate workers have to face due to unfair labor practices. 

“Our members are angry — we are frustrated, insulted and disappointed from the bad faith behavior of the University administration after almost one year of bargaining,” Sanabria Véaz said. “Not being able to pay our credit card debt or student loans, having to stretch meals and groceries because our accounts are close to empty, not knowing how to pay rent next month are the many things this administration is solely responsible for.”

Even though GEO leaders are devastated and are considering the possibility of a strike, they highlight that they are willing to cooperate with the University administration to continue its normal operations.

“One of the most beautiful things about being in a democratic union is that it’s the only way that we allow our members to actually use their voice to transform their conditions; again, we’re doing everything possible,” Sanabria Véaz said. “The question is, for the administration, are they willing to sign a fair contract as soon as possible so we can make this University run?”


[email protected]