Support DEI labor at Michigan
As many of you know, one of the most widely supported proposals in GEO’s contract negotiations with the University is the DEI GSSA proposal, which aims to create compensated, unionized graduate student staff assistant positions appointed for the sole purpose of implementing the strategic plans of the University’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative. 23 such positions would be spread over 19 schools and colleges. This proposal resulted from conversations within the graduate student and broader campus community about the lack of accountability, structure, and resources for the DEI plans. Creating paid GSSA positions intended to do the implementation labor of the plans not only institutionalizes them, but creates a structure for adequately compensating and valuing labor that would likely otherwise fall into the laps of volunteers of color and other marginalized people. When diversity labor is undervalued, volunteers of color sacrifice mentally and professionally, exacerbating problems the DEI initiatives are intended to solve.
Unfortunately, in spite of the membership’s support of the proposal and clear, compelling arguments made at the table outlining its merits, the University’s bargaining team has refused to bargain over the matter.
Sign the DEI Petition
In response to the University’s refusal to bargain with us over this proposal, GEO’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee started circulating an online petition in mid-February asking individuals and organizations to show their support of the proposal. By March 1st, over 700 campus-affiliated individuals had signed in support, as did over fifteen campus organizations. (A full, regularly updated list can be found on the DEI GSSA facebook page.)
A day after GEO released the petition, the Michigan Daily also published an article about the proposal. At the end of the article, University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald was quoted saying that a meeting was to be scheduled the week after spring break to address the issue of compensation of DEI labor.
The same morning that the Daily article was published, the University reached out to the DEI GSSA committee and our allies and extended an invitation to this meeting. Given the timing, it’s fair to conclude that this meeting resulted from the added pressure created by the petitions and attention from the press.
Share the Petition
We encourage you to keep sharing the petitions widely in order to keep up the pressure, especially among undergraduates. The more the University feels a broad campus coalition of supporters are watching, the more seriously they will consider our proposal at this meeting.