Graduate workers on the University of Illinois Urbana campus are voting Friday whether to ratify a new five-year contract with the University of Illinois.
The Graduate Employees' Organization sent WILL information about what is in the tentative agreement.
The issue of tuition waivers was the most contentious debate of the labor dispute between the GEO and the university. The GEO wanted guaranteed tuition waivers for all members for the life of the contract. The university wanted more flexibility in awarding future waivers. Here's what the GEO says about the tuition waiver provision of the contract:
"Tuition waivers will be guaranteed to teaching and graduate assistants once they are enrolled in a program. When in that program, they will be governed by the tuition waiver policy in effect at the time of their enrollment (so long as they're in good academic standing and make progress toward graduation)-- even if later modifications to the program should occur."
But Bruce Kovanen, a lead negotiator for the GEO, told the News-Gazette that the university did get some concessions in this area. He said that the university will have some flexibility in creating new programs and that students in so-called self-supporting programs will "most likely have to seek different kinds of employment."
The GEO had sought a "modest" raise of about $500 for its lowest-paid members, which was about a seven percent increase. So, what is in the tentative deal?
The GEO says minimum pay for graduate teaching assistants and other workers will increase by 4.5 percent in the first year, and 2.5 percent in each of the next two years. Then, wages will be up for renegotiation for the final two years of the contract.
Per the GEO, the university will now pay 87 percent of graduate workers' health insurance premiums. That's an increase from the current 80 percent. In addition, the university will now pay 25 percent of the premium for one dependent. The university had previously not paid any health insurance costs for dependents.
The GEO had sought at least one month's notice for work assignments each semester. The U of I has agreed to provide one month notice for a job appointment, and if they fail to do so, the affected grad employee can file a claim for fifty dollars.
In a statement Friday, the GEO said that the ratification vote will continue until 9:00 pm. If union members vote to ratify the agreement, the strike is over. If not, it will continue until another agreement is reached.
Story source: WILL