Grad students gain new
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New law defines role of teaching assistants
[OCT. 16, 2004]
-- Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed legislation Wednesday enabling
graduate teaching assistants at public universities to organize for
purposes of collective bargaining.
"This law closes a loophole created by
a federal ruling that students do not have bargaining rights," Gov.
Blagojevich said. "Clearly, graduate students who spend countless
hours each week teaching undergraduate courses, grading papers and
preparing for classes are engaged in instructional activities that
qualify them as employees. This law now recognizes that status and
gives them the rights that all employees of public institutions
The law, sponsored
by Sen. Carol Ronen, D-Chicago, and Rep. Naomi D. Jakobsson,
D-Urbana, distinguishes between graduate students whose primary role
is either research or pre-professional work and those who teach. The
former are regarded as students who are not eligible to form
bargaining units under the law. Teaching assistants, on the other
hand, are considered university employees under the Illinois
Educational Labor Relations Act and can organize for collective
In July, the National Labor
Relations Board ruled that universities are not required to bargain
with graduate-student unions.
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"I am pleased that this important
legislation will be law. Teaching assistants play such vital roles
within the university system, and now they will be treated fairly
and given the rights they deserve," said Sen. Ronen.
"I have a personal stake in the
professional environment for the employees at the U of I," said Rep.
Jakobsson. "I am committed to improving the professional conditions
for members of the Graduate Employee Organization, and this law is a
step in the right direction. I will continue to stand up for the
rights of our graduate employees at the University of Illinois."
Senate Bill 1070, is effective immediately.
[News release from the