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  1. How much are GEO union dues?
  2. When will dues be deducted?
  3. How do I pay?
  4. Will dues be deducted when I’m not a GSI or GSSA?
  5. Why does everybody pay?
  6. Why should I be a member?
  7. What if I change my mind about membership?
  8. Where does the money go?
  9. Who decides where the money goes?
  10. How can I have a voice in GEO’s financial decisions?

1. How much are GEO union dues?

Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) and Graduate Student Staff Assistants (GSSAs) who choose to become members will be assessed Union Dues in any term in which they are employed. For the 2020-2021 Academic Year, Union Dues are set at 1.65% of gross pay. The full cost of dues (below) will be deducted in three installments and will occur in all but the first month of each employment term.

Fall 2022 and Winter 2023 Terms

FractionTerm SalaryTerm Dues

Spring 2023 and Summer 2023 Term

FractionTerm SalaryTerm Dues

2. When will dues be deducted?

Dues are automatically deducted from your paycheck. Fall term deductions are taken out in three installments from the October, November, and December checks; Winter term deductions are taken out from the February, March, and April checks; Spring term deductions are taken from the June check, and Summer term deductions are taken from the August check. When corrections are necessary, they are made on the following check.

3. How do I pay?

Once you’ve submitted a yellow membership dues deduction authorization card, the appropriate amount will automatically be deducted from your UM paycheck.

4. Will dues be deducted when I’m not a GSI or GSSA?

No! If you are not currently employed as a GSI or GSSA but would still like to pay solidarity membership dues, you can do so on our Contribute page.

5. Why should everybody pay?

As a labor union representing GSIs and GSSAs at the University of Michigan, GEO has a legal obligation to represent everyone in the bargaining unit, regardless of membership status. All of us share the benefits of collective bargaining, not just members, and no one can opt out of union representation. There are no clauses of the contract that only apply to paying members, and the union does not consider an employee’s membership status when assisting with an employment grievance.

Fulfilling GEO’s legal obligation of equal representation requires resources. Like any viable organization, GEO needs funds to maintain an office, employ staff, maintain institutional ties, purchase legal advice, coordinate volunteers, and generally operate as an effective voice for graduate employees in their employment relationship with UM.

Because GEO represents all of us, and all of us benefit from that representation, we encourage everyone to contribute to the cost.

6. Why should I be a member?

The most important reason to join GEO is because doing so is a public expression of your support for the union. By joining GEO, you add your voice to a powerful collective voice and thereby contribute to GEO’s mission of improving the working conditions of graduate employees at the University of Michigan.

Paying dues to GEO also confers full membership rights to participate in the activities and governance of the union. All GEO meetings, at all levels, are open to all members. For example, most GEO business is conducted at regularly scheduled Stewards’ Council meetings. Although stewards are elected by their departments, any member may attend the meeting. The schedule is available on our website.

GEO has a long history of successfully negotiating collective bargaining agreements. In the most recent contract, for instance, we won an annual raise of 3% for 2020, 3.4% for 2021, and 3.7% for 2022 on the Ann Arbor and Dearborn campuses and 3% for the Flint campus each year. We also secured a cap on mental health copays, and 8 weeks of parental leave, among many other benefits and protections for graduate student workers. You can have a voice in enforcing the contract and working towards future gains. If you want to have a voice in your working conditions, pay, and benefits, you have to be a member of GEO!

7. What if I change my mind about membership?

In order to change your membership status, simply contact GEO to begin the process.

8. Where does the money go?

GEO’s budget is divided into three main categories of expenditures: (i) basic operating expenses, (ii) employing GEO staff, and (iii) membership fees to AFT Michigan and AFT National. Operating costs include office space, utilities, member resources, committee expenditures, and GEO events. A quarter of the budget pays for the salaries and benefits of GEO staff. GEO staffers maintain our databases and resources, answer member inquiries, assist in contract enforcement and bargaining, and help implement the goals of the membership.

The fees paid to AFT Michigan and National allow us to access resources needed to negotiate contracts, resolve grievances, conduct strategic planning, and maintain our ties to the wider labor movement. AFT Michigan helps to pay our legal expenses and provides GEO access to an attorney on retainer.

Below is a graphic of how money is allocated in the 2022-2023 budget. This is after fees are paid to AFT Michigan and AFT National, which are each 18% of our member dues.

2022-2023 budget

9. Who decides where the money goes?

Ultimate authority for approving spending rests with the Stewards Council, but the GEO Treasurer (an elected, volunteer position) is responsible for day-to-day oversight of GEO’s finances. The shape of GEO’s spending each year is determined by the GEO budget. Typically, the Finance Committee, led by the GEO Treasurer, will develop a draft budget for the next year during the latter part of the Winter Term. The budget is subsequently submitted to the Stewards’ Council for review and approval.

Throughout the year the Stewards’ Council is consulted to approve unanticipated expenditures or budget modifications. This can occur when unexpected events require the budget to be amended, but is more commonly the result of an anticipated expenditure with a discretionary component. For example, the GEO budget reserves a significant amount of money for grievance arbitration. Even though the money is already budgeted, the Stewards’ Council are consulted prior to submission of a grievance for arbitration.

10. How can I have a voice in GEO’s financial decisions?

The best way to have your voice heard is to serve on the Finance Committee or the Stewards’ Council. Additionally, all GEO meetings are open to all members, so as a member you can attend any Stewards’ Council meeting where GEO’s finances are discussed. If you have questions or concerns, you can email the Treasurer at Members can even set up an appointment to come in and look over the books.