Fair Benefits and Living Wages for Graduate Assistants Under Contract in Illinois sign now

We the undersigned Graduate Assistants, under contract at various institutions of higher learning throughout the State of Illinois, do not collectively protest the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act through this petition.

We protest the designation "employee" when it suits the State to require further training, but to not allow the designation "employee" when we Graduate Assistants would enjoy the full benefits of being state employees. Where benefits and pay are concerned, we are "students" and "apprentices."

Whether we are married or single, parents or not, all graduate students working under contract in Illinois deserve fair access to employee benefits. In many cases, we bear the same workload as faculty, but earn less than 30\% of their salaries, seniority notwithstanding. And among the benefits we do not have access to are, for example:

1. The ability to collect unemployment benefits, should we have difficulty finding employment upon graduation;

2. The ability to participate in state employee health insurance plans, which include dental and optometric care;

3. The ability to gain full benefits in child care assistance;

4. The ability to pursue our graduate studies and to diligently work at our jobs as state employees without the burden of an additional job or taking out student loans. Most of us do not have the option of living off our "stipends," for they can't fairly be called "wages." We do not make a living wage, and most of us live well below federally-stated poverty levels.

Even with tuition compensation, many of us would still make very poor salaries as compensation for the work we do. Though we are listed as working 20 hours per week, many positions, teaching especially, require far more contact and preparation time for truly effective learning to take place. Further, student fees are required of us, which highlights our marginal status; these fees, in some cases, cost us a half-month's pay, sometimes more.

In some areas, this means we live below "very poor" poverty levels, as compared to employed individuals throughout our respective counties.

We ask you to reconsider what benefits and resources are available to graduate assistants employed throughout the State of Illinois, as well as the oppressive pay we receive in return for our dedicated teaching, research, and assistance in the various endeavors of a quality higher education system.

Supporters of this issue are welcome to sign as well, and all are invited to read the details of the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act at:
http://www.legis.state.il.us/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ChapAct=5\%26nbsp\%3BILCS\%26nbsp\%3B430\%2F&DocName=&ActName=State+Officials+and+Employees+Ethics+Act\%2E&ChapterName=GENERAL+PROVISIONS&ActID=2529&ChapterID=2&SeqStart=&SeqEnd=&Print=True

and are also invited to read statements which can be found on various webpages for graduate schools throughout the State of Illinois.

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Maritza ProctorBy:
LGTBIn:
Petition target:
IL Governor Rod Blagojevich

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