Withholding of Pay for Absences Due to Strike Participation

Dear Graduate Employee,

During this period of negotiations with the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO), it is important to state that we highly value the services which Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants provide for the University and our students. UIC competes nationally and internationally to attract and retain the best and brightest students. Our goal always has been, and continues to be, to provide the best possible contract for both sides. At the same time, we have an obligation to continue our instructional mission for all students.

We have received numerous inquiries regarding the impact on Assistants’ pay if they participate in a strike and withhold services as part of GEO’s plan to encourage a work stoppage. We cannot provide compensation to employees unless assigned services are rendered. Under Illinois law, public employees represented by labor organizations are permitted to strike and the University will comply with all applicable requirements and principles regarding the rights of striking employees. Continuing to receive pay while withholding services is not one of those rights and would violate laws and policies governing appropriate use of state resources. The University cannot pay striking employees who are not working.

Here are responses to frequently asked questions:

Q: Will assistants continue to be paid if they fail to perform or deliver work assignments as scheduled?

A: No. Teaching Assistants (TAs) and Graduate Assistants (GAs) who are in the bargaining unit represented by the GEO can choose to work or choose to strike. If they choose to work, they will be paid as usual.  As with any union-initiated strike action, employees who elect not to work as scheduled, cannot and will not be paid.

Q: What process will be followed to verify the amount of pay to be deducted from striking employees?

A: TAs and GAs in the bargaining unit who are absent for any reason during the strike will be asked to report their absences for each day of the strike. The Time and Attendance Form should be completed and submitted within five work days after the strike has concluded. Supervisors and department administrators will document absences during the strike and as appropriate will follow up with employees who do not submit the form. If the union calls for a strike, campus departments will be directed to assume assistants are not working unless the assistant indicates they will perform their duties.

The Time and Attendance Form will be posted at: https://geobargaining.uic.edu/

Q: If the strike continues during Spring Break (March 25-29) will assistants be paid for those days?

A: No.

Q: Is picketing allowed?

A: Yes, though certain conduct is prohibited by law and policy. Picketers cannot legally block access to University facilities or prevent non-striking employees from working. While picketers have a right to talk to people going in or out of campus buildings, intimidation, threats and coercion (physical or verbal) are not permitted. There is an existing UIC policy on demonstrations and protests that describes the general types of conduct that are not permitted (see link below).


If you have any questions, feel free to contact Keino Robinson, Associate Director of Labor and Employee Relations at keinor@uic.edu.

Michael Ginsburg
Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources