Statement of Solidarity from the Graduate Employees Organization at UIC: CTU’s fight is our fight!

September 14, 2012 Leave a Comment

I am writing to you as a Co-president of GEO and a family member of a Chicago Public School teacher. My spouse, John, is a member of CTU and an elementary music teacher at Dominguez Elementary in Little Village. John has been a teacher in the public schools for 12 years. He has worked inmany different classrooms with kindergartners who never went to preschool, cannot read (much less tie their own shoe), and cannot speak English. When Mayor Rahm Emanuel was pushing for a longer school day and advocates for school “reform” were decrying Chicago’s short school day, John was working from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm and only had a 20 minute break to eat his lunch. Often he was not scheduled time to prepare his lessons during the day, so most of the preparation for his lessons happened outside of the school day—the work he does cannot be measured only by the time he spends in front of his students.

Since I’m a full-time graduate student earning low wages as a teaching assistant and paying high fees at UIC, John’s salary covers our living expenses. The day the CTU went on strike, John ceased to earn any income. Every day he goes to the picket lines at 6:30 am and marches with his fellow teachers every afternoon downtown. This strike is not about increasing teachers’ salaries. John and all CTU teachers are committed to fighting for better working conditions and for a better education for all CPS students—that means up-to-date text books, social workers and nurses in every school, smaller class sizes, and music and art for all CPS students, not just the wealthiest.

As a teaching assistant at UIC, I see the same fight ahead of us. We are up against a University system that takes our labor for granted. A University that is slow to give us the proper training and supplies that we need to do our job and that continually uses the current economic crisis to force us to work for low wages. Like John and the CTU, I am standing up for workers and demanding that we not bear the weight of austerity alone. Support CTU at a rally this Saturday, September 15, at noon in Union Park (Ashland and Lake), and join the GEO at the bargaining table as we negotiate our contract with the University on Wednesday, September 12, at 1:00 pm in University Hall, room 650. Stand with the CTU and the GEO to fight for workers and the future of public education!

Marissa Baker
Co-President, GEO
TA, Department of Art History


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