GAU Reaches two settlements

Graduate Assists United (GAU) has reached two settlements to grievances what we wish to share with you.

The first concerns a rule put in place by the administration that restricted GAs from holding appointments greater than 50% (0.50FTE – 20 hours a week). This violated the GAU contract, specifically section 5.3, and the union grieved. Shortly before arbitration of the grievance, the administration agreed to eliminate the rule, and go back to the old system of GAs being able to have up to 75% appointments.As part of this settlement, a GA from the College of Liberal Arts was paid for a semester 25% appointment.

The second settlement concerns a GA in the College of Education who was told he had a summer appointment and started working at the beginning of the summer. He was told he would be given a contract to sign shortly, however, after working for nine days he was told to stop working.  A few days later the department told him it had made a mistake and he would not be employed during the summer. GAU grieved and signed settlement where the GA was paid for the nine days and guaranteed a 50% appointment in the Spring semester (he did not have an appointment for Spring).

For those of you who heard a reports of a new university fee, GAU was monitoring this. The fee, intended to support the construction of new residence halls, would not apply to all GAs; only those in university housing would be affected. As the plan for the construction of new residence halls was tabled at the Board of Trustees meeting December 8, the fee will not be applied until the plan is approved. The plan, and the fee attached to it, may be taken back up in February.

Bargaining Update

Your GAU bargaining team has been meeting regularly with the administration. It has been a difficult environment in which to bargain with the collapse of the state budget under Governor Bruce Rauner. Nevertheless there has been progress made and we are fairly close to finishing.

After consulting with the officers and department stewards of GAU your team presented a package proposal to wrap up all the remaining issues in one shot. We presented ours February 11.

As part of the package considering the financial state of the university we asked for no raise and instead focused on fee relief as that has consistently been what you have said is the most important issue. On March 10 we received a response from the administration which was their package. The good news what that it was clear they were making a serious effort to come to an agreement with us, however there is still some distance to go.

The main remaining issues revolve around the cost of fees, funding caps on the number of semesters GAs are funded, how summer tuition waivers work, and vacation leave (as for 12 month appointed GAs it may be hard to get time to visit their families at home – especially for international grads).

-GAU Bargaining Team

University reaches settlement with GAU

Kyle Sutton of the Daily Egyptian sat down to speak with members of Graduate Assistants United about successfully settling a grievance with the University.

A graduate assistant who filed a grievance against the SIU more than a year ago has reached a settlement.

Graduate Assistants United and the university reached a settlement stemming from a grievance filed against University Housing in November of 2012 by Kevin Ross, a graduate student from Pickneyville studying rehabilitation counseling.

The university and the GAU settled on the amount of a $650 compensation for Ross.

Under the collective bargaining agreement between the Board of Trustees and GAU, a grievance is defined as a dispute raised by an assistant against the university.

When the grievance was filed, Ross was working as an area complex director for graduate and family services of University Housing at Evergreen Terrace.

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Letter to Members

Greetings Members of Graduate Assistants United!  The theme of the February issue of The Advocate is love (look out for a special edition of the Advocate on Feb. 14).  While an explicit mention of “love” is neither in our by-laws nor our Collective Bargaining Agreement with the University, I feel confident advancing the proposition that the idea of love pervades all of our work on campus.  From resolving disputes between Graduate Assistants and faculty-supervisors, to GAU Coffee Hours and Happy Hours, collective bargaining, educating GA’s about their rights in the workplace, etc., a spirit of love guides our work.  Thank you for being a part of our work.

I’m writing with a quick note to update members on a few developments with GAU:

  • We hit a mile marker with membership this year.  At last count we had 170 members of GAU!  With the total number of Graduate Assistants fluctuating at around 1,500, we’ve got some work to do to make our Bargaining Unit as strong as possible.  The more members we have, the stronger we are at the bargaining table.
  • Our Grievance Committee settled a Level 2 grievance with University Housing this spring.  We won back-pay for the grieving GA and some policy changes in their handbook.  The grievance centered on remedying requirements that regularly led our GA to work over 20 hours/week for his 50% contract.
  • We hosted PhD Movie and added value to the University in addition to our bread-and-butter issues of grievance resolution and collective bargaining.  With over 55 graduate students in attendance, our collaboration with the Graduate School was a resounding success.
  • GAU Organizer, Jessica Soester, joined the team this spring.  Jessica is on a 50% GA contract to conduct community organizing on campus, which includes hosting events, recruiting new members, and building our now 23-member Steward Council.  Welcome Jessica!
  • GAU is set to file an unfair labor practice lawsuit against the University for their arbitrary and unilateral violation of our Collective Bargaining Agreement (Article 5).  Working with our legal team at the Illinois Education Association (IEA), GAU is poised to take action in early February.
  • We will be holding our second General Membership Meeting of the year on February 19th.  As a result of member-feedback, we will be hosting 2 meetings (12noon-1pm, and 7-8pm) in the Missouri/Kaskaskia Rooms of the Student Center.  We look forward to seeing you at a meeting on the 19th!
  • We will be partnering with the IEA unions on campus (the Faculty Association, Non-Tenure Track Faculty Association, and Association of Civil Service Employees) for a bargaining season kick-off rally on March 19th.  Keep on the lookout for an announcement and flyer!

I hope this note finds you all well in the New Year, and off to a good start in spring semester.

If someone you know is interested in becoming a member of GAU, please let us know!  If you are interested in taking your membership to the next level by becoming a Steward or getting involved in our committee work, let us know!  Thank you everyone, very much, for your continued membership and participation in GAU.

Stay in touch!  With love,

Matt Ryg, President

GAU Grievance Victories!

GAU successfully negotiated three workload grievances for Graduate Students so far this summer.  We worked with two Department Chairs to get student contracts corrected.  In two cases, we got contracts amended from .25 (25%) to .5 (50%), yielding students more money for the classes they teach.  In the other case, GAU negotiated the addition of a Teaching Assistant for a Graduate Student with an increased workload/course enrollment.

Congratulations to the Graduate Students who benefited, and to the GAU Grievance Committee for their outstanding work!  Thanks too to the Department Chairs and Graduate School who worked with us to resolve these issues in favor of Graduate Student interests.