Striking GEO workers set up 'occupation' at admin building

Striking GEO workers set up 'occupation' at admin building

URBANA — Anthropology graduate student Natalye Tate pitched a tent just steps from University of Illinois President Tim Killeen's office in the Henry Administration Building late Tuesday afternoon.

"I didn't know what kind of accommodations I might need," Tate said. "I'm not often in the president's office. The president's not here, nor is the provost, nor is the chancellor. So there's no leadership on this campus to make decisions."

Tate was one of about 20 Graduate Employees Organization and Campus Faculty Association members who set up camp in the hallway leading to Killeen's office during the first hour of an "occupation" Tuesday.

"If they cannot come to us to bargain, we will go to them," said GEO spokeswoman Ashli Anda.

Organizers vowed to stay put until the graduate students get what they deem to be a fair contract.

"We got here at 4 p.m.," said Patrick Kimutis, a member of the GEO bargaining team. "We hope it doesn't go long, but we will be here indefinitely until the president and the provost come to the table and provide us with a fair contract. We are going to be here as long as it takes."

The last negotiating session between the GEO and administration was on Sunday. Another session is scheduled for 9 a.m. today, the midpoint of week two of the GEO strike.

"We hope the president and the provost understand how serious this is," Kimutis said. "The university right now is in crisis mode. Classes are being canceled all over."

Participants put signs up and down the third floor hallway featuring GEO slogans.

Under normal circumstances, Leah Wilks would have spent Tuesday preparing to teach her Dance 100 class.

"I really miss my students," Wilks said. "These several days have been about sunburns, snow, rain, cold feet, happy hearts, some rage and really creative chant making."

As she spoke, three UI police officers were stationed at the end of the hall.

By 7 p.m., police were standing at all the entrances of the Henry building, preventing people from going in and joining the occupation, according to Anda.

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loopillini wrote on March 07, 2018 at 8:03 am

They should be "occupying" jail cells instead of being allowed to illegally tresspass and squat in a university building.

borderbelle wrote on March 07, 2018 at 2:03 pm

If you miss your students so much, GO BACK TO WORK !