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Graduate assistants at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign went on strike Monday over protracted contract negotiations. The graduate union, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, says members have been working nearly 200 days on an expired collective bargaining agreement. Points of disagreement include pay, health insurance, a childcare provision proposed by the union and tuition waivers. The union wants to maintain contractual assurances that tuition waivers will not be reduced for students in good standing, but Illinois wants to be able to adjust that provision for future students.

Provost Andreas Cangellaris said in a statement that the university is “disappointed” that the union “made the decision to end Sunday’s negotiations and to ask its members to participate in a strike.” Of tuition waivers, Cangellaris said UIUC’s proposal “explicitly guarantees tuition waivers for bargaining unit members, offers clear protections of the value of those waivers throughout a student’s academic career here and was adjusted to remove language about eligibility” the union said was a concern. The Graduate Employees Organization said the university’s final prestrike offer “made no real changes from their previous proposal, illustrating that they’re not interested in bargaining a fair contract that protects tuition waivers.” The Chicago Tribune reported that 53 people withheld their work Monday, 66 classes were moved to different locations to avoid picket lines and 27 classes were canceled.