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Teaching Assistants at U. of Illinois Prevail in Contract Dispute

The Graduate Employees Organization, a union representing teaching assistants at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has come out on top in a dispute over a contract provision dealing with tuition waivers. In a three-year agreement reached with the union in November 2009, the university had agreed that it would not unilaterally reduce the tuition waivers offered teaching and graduate assistants from outside Illinois. Last fall, however, several departments in the university’s College of Fine and Applied Arts, arguing that the contract provision applied only to assistants already on the payroll, ceased giving new, nonresident graduate employees waivers covering the full cost of out-of-state tuition. The union responded by filing a grievance. Now an independent arbitrator has ruled that the university’s actions “violated the plain terms and conditions” of the contract, and ordered the administration to repay graduate assistants any money they spent on tuition as a result of the university’s actions.

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