Of I. reach tentative contract agreement to end strike

Elias Hubbard
March 9, 2018

Ten days into their labor strike, unionized graduate teaching assistants at the University of IL have reached a tentative agreement with administrators on a new contract. The university sought contract language allowing leaders to modify the waivers program in later years to meet budgeting and programming needs, but said now enrolled students would keep the waivers in effect at the time they began their studies. They'll remain on strike until a contract is ratified. "If we say 'no, ' it will go back to pickets", she said.

Liz Matresse, one of the strike captains for the GEO, said there will be an emergency general meeting tonight. "We must trust each other and our bargaining team".

The union, representing about 2,700 graduate and teaching assistants, walked off the job February 26 after almost a year of unsuccessful negotiations involving dozens of bargaining and mediation sessions. The union wants the waivers guaranteed for all grad workers going forward, but the university wants more control over who gets them.

The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports Thursday's tentative agreement comes after a marathon overnight bargaining session that started Wednesday morning.

Tuition waivers continue to be the biggest issue between the two sides.

The 10-day strike started last week and had forced the cancellation of several hundred classes.

Union members camped in the hallway outside university president Timothy Killeen's office for nearly two days, starting Tuesday evening, as the "marathon" bargaining session dragged on, GEO spokeswoman Ashli Anda said. The full details of the agreement will be released after the ratification process has been completed. This tentative agreement finds common ground built on those goals to ensure graduate employees at IL will have the financial and personal security to focus fully on the academic pursuits and aspirations that brought them here.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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