Teaching Assistants Plan Strike at U. of Illinois

November 16, 2009

Graduate teaching assistants at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are planning to go on strike today, following the failure to complete a contract agreement. The union, affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, said that while many contract issues were resolved, the university would not offer assurances about the continuation of tuition waivers. "The administration’s refusal to guarantee the continuation of its current tuition waiver practice not only means that the majority of graduate employees could be forced to pay thousands of dollars in additional tuition charges, but also indicates its plans to implement such a change. By making graduate education untenable for all but the most affluent students, the administration is abandoning its responsibility to ensure access to the highest level of public education for all," said a union statement. The university issued a statement in which it characterized the union's interest in tuition waivers as new and not a subject over great disagreements. The union "has chosen to strike over an issue that historically has never been a source of contention between the union and management, and about which there is no indication would be a source of contention in the future," said the university's official statement. In turn, the union issued a new statement asking why, if the university was committed to the tuition waivers, it wouldn't agree to add the desired language to the contract.

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