Graduate Employees' Organization

The Graduate Employees' Organization (GEO) is a labor union created to defend and extend the bargaining and employment rights of Graduate Employees (Teaching Assistants (TAs) and Graduate Assistants (GAs)) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).

The GEO first began organizing at UIUC in the mid-1990s, gaining its first contract with the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the University of Illinois system in 2004.[1]

On November 16 and 17, 2009, the GEO and its 2,600 members went on strike against UIUC, when the UIUC bargaining team failed to reach an acceptable contract agreement with the GEO prior to the August 15, 2009 expiration of the previous contract. Negotiations carried on through September, October, and early November, without significant movement. GEO members called the strike in order to secure in the contract tuition waivers enjoyed by UIUC employees. In spring 2009, the BoT had commissioned a study to see how much money the University of Illinois system could save by revoking waivers.

More than 1,000 GEO members and supporters walked picket lines on the UIUC quad on November 16 and 17. A tentative agreement was reached with UIUC in the early afternoon of November 17. Later that evening members voted to accept the tentative agreement and call off the strike.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the GEO strike was one of only five involving more than 1,000 workers in the United States in 2009, a historic low.[2]


  1. "History*". Graduate Employees' Organization. Retrieved June 21, 2014.
  2. "News Release" (PDF). Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor. Retrieved June 21, 2014.
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