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GEO agrees on contract with UI

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS -- It took more than seven months, but the "back and forth" battle for a new contract is finally over.
URBANA -- It took more than seven months, but the "back and forth" battle for a new contract is finally over. The UI and the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) agreed on a proposal Wednesday night.

The news comes only a week after the union voted to strike if necessary. The student union has become a symbol for this whole process. It's where negotiations took place, and it's also where GEO members took a strong stance Monday night.

Several of them actually slept in the Union over night, but not in the hotel. Members stayed in the dining area and lobby, similar to a "sit-in" but rather a "sleep-in."

Negotiations ended Monday afternoon with the union making a proposal. Tuesday, UI administrators reviewed it and came back with a proposal of their own. Now both sides are on the same page.

"In the fall, when members start coming and showing that they care about these issues and that they want a fair contract, I think that speaks a lot to the administration to see how many people we have behind our bargaining team," said Natalie Uhl, GEO bargaining team member.

The main sticking points included wages, tuition waivers and health benefits. THE GEO is made up of more than 2,000 teaching and graduate assistants.

The contract will go up for a ratification vote next week. Uhl says it should take about three days to tally all the votes.
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