Graduate Employees’ Organization, IFT/AFT Local 6300, AFL-CIO Champaign, Illinois, USA
The Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign seeks to hire:
➔ A permanent full-time Union Organizer. This position is funded by membership dues.
➔ A full-time Community Organizer. This position is newly developed and grant-funded,and we have secured funding for 1 year. We will work with the new community organizer to secure funding for a second year and strive to make this position a permanent one.
The target start date for both positions is August 2014. Both organizers will work with members of the union and community allies to increase our collective power and win economic and social justice campaigns. The Union Organizer will focus more on internal membership organizing and the Community Organizer will focus more on solidarity campaigns with social justice organizations and other unions. However, internal union organizing and external solidarity organizing will be a component of both positions. The Community Organizer (as part of a union) is a unique and rare position, and in the long term we hope to replicate this model in other unions (such as grad employee locals) in Illinois and around the country.
The Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) represents approximately 2,800 Teaching and Graduate Assistants employed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It is a member-led union with a paid professional staff that works under the direction of elected, volunteer officers. The GEO is a democratic, activist, and social justice union with a strong sense of solidarity and active community involvement.
In 2009, the GEO led a two-day strike with over 1,000 members (one of 5 largest strikes in the US that year), and more recently in 2012, the GEO prepared for a strike but was able to secure a fair contract before that happened.
The GEO has also participated in various community and campus campaigns such as:
● Increasing protections for nursing mothers, parents of various genders, access to health benefits for LGBTQ partners of employees, etc.
● Raising the grad minimum wage in excess of inflation and protecting tuition waivers.
● Advocating against racist imagery such as the “Chief” as the UIUC mascot.
● Fighting for immigrant rights, including expelling federal deportation agents from the Champaign County Jail, and preventing them from being able to divide families here.
● Stopping the expansion of a 20-million dollar jail that would have disproportionately affected African-American residents, and also fighting for a re-entry program.
● Work with student organizations to add gender confirmation surgery to the student insurance plan.
● Organizing in solidarity with other unions to fight against candidate for IL Governor Bruce Rauner, who is running on a campaign similar to Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, and who we fear will undermine our rights as organized workers and attack our union.
Both the Union Organizer and the Community Organizer will actively organize, recruit, and foster economic and social justice activism of this nature.
Job Duties (Community Organizer):
● General Job Duties: Organize campaigns with student and community organizations, and other unions. Examples: minimum wage, student debt, immigrant rights, racial justice, gender equity, etc.
● Short-term Job Duties (next 6 months): Help build a progressive and social justice coalition of activists from a variety of local unions around Central Illinois. Coordinate efforts during the upcoming election to win candidate and issue campaigns. Organize a massive Get Out The Vote campaign. Help defeat anti-union candidate Rauner.
● Long-term Job Duties: Build and reinforce our labor-community coalition. Engage a diverse group of union members and community allies in social justice issues. Foster solidarity between union, community, and student groups. Fundraise for position.
Job Duties (Union Organizer):
● Build and activate GEO members. Recruit and train members into leadership positions.
● Help GEO leadership plan and implement union activities such as social events, general membership meetings, rallies, volunteer nights, and work-actions.
● Represent the GEO to the UIUC admin, to other unions, and to community groups.
● Help with contract negotiation and enforcement, including finding and filing grievances, assisting the bargaining team, and research.
Job Duties (Both):
● Build and activate involvement through townhall meetings, office visits, home visits, departmental events, membership drives, work actions, campaigns, etc.
● Recruit and train union members and community allies into leadership positions.
● Help GEO, unions, and community organizations plan and implement campaigns.
● Help maintain accurate records of union activities, members, database, etc.
● Help with communications, including writing/editing press releases, designing flyers and brochures, taking meeting minutes, and developing other materials.
● At least one year of organizing experience
● Ability to manage multiple tasks in a fast-paced environment
● Excellent verbal communication skills
● Ability to use word processing, spreadsheets, databases, and social media
● Strong one-on-one organizing skills
● Flexible schedule; ability to work evenings and/or weekends as needed
● A Bachelor’s degree or higher
● Experience as a graduate student/employee, or other contingent employment.
● Experience working as an organizer for a labor union or a volunteer-run organization
● Experience organizing membership drives, work-actions, direct action, civil disobedience, marches, etc.
● Experience working in communities of color, on social justice campaigns, as well as worker’s rights campaigns, and/or Get Out The Vote campaigns.
To apply please send your cover letter, resume, and contact information to geo<at>uigeo<dot>org. Also provide names and contact information for at least two references. Please email geo<at>uigeo<dot>org if you have questions. In order to ensure full consideration, applications materials must be received by July 2, 2014. Applications will be considered after this date on a case-by-case basis. In your cover letter, describe your experience working in labor organizations, social justice organizations, and your experience working with communities of color, and/or otherwise marginalized or low-income communities. You can apply for either the union organizer or the community organizer position, or both (please clarify this in your cover letter). The letter length is whatever you deem appropriate.
Salary and Benefits:
$58,451 annually, health, dental, and vision benefits. Other benefits include retirement funds, financial support for student and/or medical debt, vacation days, as well as mileage, parking and a work cellular phone plan or subsidy. Both positions are covered by the GEO Staff Union contract. Staff members negotiate their benefits as a union with the GEO.
Caveat for Community Organizer position: The Community Organizer position is currently grant-funded for 1 year. Its duration beyond 1 year is contingent on acquiring further funding. The GEO is interested and actively involved in securing more funding for the position, and will work with the new employee toward that goal.
Affirmative Action Statement:
The GEO is an AA/EEO employer. Women, people of color, and LGBTQ individuals are strongly encouraged to apply. Furthermore, the GEO is a social justice union that is committed to increase the participation of women, people of color, and LGBTQ individuals in all aspects of the union. The GEO is also committed to organizing in solidarity with community members around a variety of issues that deal with racial, economic, and gender justice.
For those reasons, the GEO encourages all applicants to use the cover letter, resume, references, or an additional info sheet in a format and length of your choosing, to disclose any information (voluntarily) as it relates to:
1. Any relevant facts about the applicant’s identity as it relates to the applicant’s experience organizing around racial, gender, and economic justice;
2. Any past experiences organizing to address issues of racism, sexism, homophobia,classism, etc, and how that organizing experience empowered those people who are directly affected by institutionalized discrimination (women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, etc), and put those affected individuals at the forefront of organizing efforts.
3. Your potential future role as you see it as an organizer with the GEO and how you would address institutional forms of racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.
The GEO has historically organized around social justice issues, and is committed to continuing that tradition and in any way possible increase those efforts. The GEO encourages applicants to share similar organizing experiences and goals. Sharing this information is voluntary. Applicants should share as much information as they deem relevant to the job. Preference will be given to applicants who exhibit experience, passion, and an ongoing desire to overcome institutional and interpersonal forms of discrimination.