The University and the Graduate Employees Organization officially agreed to extend their 1999-2002 contract three more years during a bargaining session Thursday. The contract was set to expire Friday.

The extension was tentatively agreed upon during Thursday night”s bargaining session and confirmed during the GEO”s Thursday night membership meeting. More than 90 percent of GEO members in attendance voted against an indefinite extension. University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said the official agreement was signed Friday.

GEO Chief Negotiator Alyssa Picard said the GEO agreed to extend the contract in order to show good faith to the University and the union”s parent organizations.

The extension means the two parties have until Feb. 15 to negotiate the terms of the new contract, which will last until 2005.

GEO and the University began meeting in November, when GEO first stated their platform and negotiations have become more frequent in the last two weeks.

Although the University has offered several counter proposals, most of them have been rejected by the GEO or are still under review.

Now both sides must come to an agreement on some of the most pressing issues up for debate.

GEO is asking the University not to use bottom line budgeting, to increase wages and to expand childcare facilities and harassment protection.

Peterson said they are unable to afford many of the GEO”s proposals due to a lowered budget and are looking for more feasible options.

The details of the negotiations are closed to the public until a new contract has been signed.

GEO cannot take any work-action, such as strikes or walkouts, until the new expiration date, though Picard said the number of GEO members who voted against extending the contract indefinitely shows that some work-action might be taken after Feb. 15.

“The overwhelming majority of our membership might consider a strike after that two-week extension expires,” Picard said.

Other University unions traditionally honor picket lines when GEO strikes or walks-out, essentially slowing down campus activity.

“In past years, GEO has asked other campus unions to respect our picket lines. This means, for example, that UPS drivers, who are teamsters, do not make deliveries to campus. (This is) very standard among unions in work action situations,” Picard said. “We ask undergraduates and other members of the campus community to do the same.”

Work-actions were taken after the last two contracts expired, in 1996 and 1999.

The last work-action taken was a 36-hour walkout, during which no on-campus sections were held and some lectures were cancelled.

“In past work actions, some graduate student instructors have held section off campus, as a way of respecting picket lines while still meeting undergrads” needs,” Picard said.

“But some do cancel section outright, and some professors have cancelled lectures as a way of showing support for GEO,” Picard added.

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