The Public i has received this press release from the Graduate Employees’ Organization. We have published it in its entirety below.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 30th, 2020
GRADUATE WORKERS’ DRIVE TO SURVIVE MAY DAY RALLY FOR HEALTHCARE
GEO demands the University administration to cover summer health insurance.
URBANA-CHAMPAIGN — The Graduate Employees’ Organization , Local 6300 AFT/IFT, is organizing a socially distant car rally this Friday, May 1st at 12:00 p.m. to convey two demands to the University Administration. Members and allies will meet in Parking Lot A of Orchard Downs before processing in cars, on foot, and on bikes to two visible campus locations. With members facing financial instability in tandem with the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, GEO is demanding that the University of Illinois Board of Trustees cover summer health insurance premiums for graduate students who do not hold waiver-granting appointments over that period.
Thousands of graduate employees will be out of work beginning in May; simultaneously, they will lose their health insurance for three months unless they pay $696 to extend their coverage. The GEO has repeatedly asked for coverage and UIUC has repeatedly ignored the requests. At almost every other Big Ten school, graduate employees retain healthcare coverage for the summer term without additional fees.
Because of the University’s inaction, GEO will be taking to the streets this May Day. At noon, GEO members and allies will rally in their cars in two visible campus locations to let the Administration and Board of Trustees know that social distancing does not mean distancing from solidarity. When we are forced to be apart, it is more important than ever to show up for each other and demand that the university cover summer health insurance and refuse to increase health insurance premiums in August.
The Graduate Employees’ Organization, AFT/IFT Local 6300, AFL-CIO, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, represents approximately 2,700 Teaching and Graduate Assistants on the UIUC Campus. In November 2009 and in February 2018, over 1,000 GEO members and allies participated in a strike to secure a fair contract and more accessible UIUC campus. With an active presence in the community, the GEO continues to work for high-quality and accessible public education in Illinois.
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