U of I protects illegal immigrant, criminal felon graduate assistants against discrimination, warns students against 'microaggressions'
A convicted felon who is refused a job as a graduate assistant at the University of Illinois on account of a police record can now claim illegal discrimination.
University of Illinois students who commit so-called "micro-aggressions" against graduate assistants can now be charged with harassment.
And an illegal immigrant graduate assistant who might have to miss work due to visa issues must be accommodated by their supervisor.
These are among the new ground rules at the state's flagship university, all part of a new contract inked between the University of Illinois' Graduate Employees Organization, known as GEO, and school leaders in March.
Details of the new contract emerged amid a recent debate in Springfield over a measure that would expand unionization of the University of Illinois System's graduate research assistants and other graduate student workers.
Senate Bill 2546 is sponsored by Democrat Attorney General nominee and current State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), one-time Democrat gubernatorial hopeful Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) and openly socialist State Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago).
Opposed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, the bill is widely supported by state public employee unions, which would collect more union dues and add to their ranks if it becomes law.
The University of Illinois also opposes the bill, arguing that research activities are not "work," but rather a part of the students' graduate education.
It passed the state Senate on a largely party-line vote in April -- Republican-turned-independent Sen. Sam McCann (R-Springfield) was the only non-Democrat to vote "yes." An Illinois House committee heard testimony on the bill the week of May 7.
Unionization would lead to myriad new "protections" for graduate student workers who aren't white, male and of European descent, providing more causes for filing complaints and grievances.
The contract agreed to in March makes ethnicity, visa/immigration status, gender expression and arrest record "protected categories," banned from being used in university hiring decisions.
It also stipulates that graduate worker supervisors have to accommodate workers who have to miss time due to "visa or immigration issues," and that they have the right to grieve "micro-aggressions" as discrimination or harassment.
Graduate student workers at the University of Illinois went on strike in February.
The strike ended with a new five-year labor contract that included graduate student wage increases of 9.5 percent over the next three years, taxpayers paying 87 percent (up from 80 percent) of their health insurance benefits and guaranteed tuition waivers.
The University of Illinois System has approximately 4,500 graduate assistants.