CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Graduate Employees Organization, IFT-AFT Local 6300, reached a tentative contract agreement today.
The GEO is a union that represents most graduate teaching assistants and graduate assistants at the university. The agreement will be submitted to GEO members and to the university's board of trustees for approval. If approved, the contract would run until Aug. 15, 2006.
The union was certified by the Illinois Educational Labor Board in December 2002, following an election by graduate teaching assistants and graduate assistants. Negotiations between the union and the university began in February 2003.
Other universities that have assistants unions include the University of Wisconsin, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, the University of Iowa and the University of California system.
The tentative agreement covers the full range of subjects involving assistants' wages, hours, and terms of employment. Details of the agreement are being withheld subject to ratification by union members and approval by the university's trustees.
Spokespersons for the union and the university expressed the hope for early approval of the agreement so its terms can be fully implemented in the 2004 fall semester.
"If approved, this first contract will provide a basis for an enduring, constructive relationship between the university and the union that will allow both sides to focus on the key issues of improving undergraduate education and providing improved support for graduate teaching assistants and graduate assistants," said Richard Herman, interim chancellor of the Urbana campus.
The union represents about 2,700 of the 6,181 graduate employees on the Urbana campus. Research assistants and pre-professional graduate students are not represented by the GEO, but the university announced that any benefits provided by the proposed contract will be extended to all graduate employees on the Urbana campus.