Provost Andreas C. Cangellaris
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Dear Provost Cangellaris,
I am writing to express my support for the Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in their effort to bargain a contract. I urge you to sign their proposals for a new collective bargaining agreement. Since their first contract in 2003, the unionized graduate workers have worked to secure increased pay, better healthcare, full tuition waivers, and access and equality protections.
Graduate employees perform essential work for the University as teachers and graduate assistants. At some point, every undergraduate student is taught by a graduate instructor, and over 2,800 graduate workers on this campus provide valuable labor. Without the protections of a robust collective bargaining agreement, graduate employees face hardships. Graduate workers may find themselves having to choose between healthcare and food.
The University of Illinois Administration has ignored the demands of graduate workers at the bargaining table. Despite the fact that Teaching Assistants making the minimum salary earn about $6,000 less than the University’s own published living wage, the university has not raised their wages in a meaningful way or waived fees or provided a childcare subsidy, while attempting to force them to pay significantly more for their healthcare.
The teaching labor of graduate workers is a major reason why the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign continues to be a preeminent institution of higher learning and research in the United States. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign would not function without graduate workers.
I urge you to sign the GEO’s proposals for better living and working conditions for its graduate employees.