Contents:

  • Winter 2021 FAQs for GSIs
  • GEO Winter Shutdown
  • American Federation of Teachers Raid on Michigan Medicine Nurses
  • Housing Caucus Survey
  • Winter 2021 Solidarity Dues
  • Lakeshore Apartments Fire Relief
  • Connect the Camps Fundraiser
  • Memorial Caravan for Prisoner Lives, Lansing (12/12 @ 12pm)
  • Pull Over Prevention December Clinic (12/12 @ 12pm)
  • Ann Arbor Tenants’ Union Visioning Meeting for 2021 (12/13 @ 6pm)
  • Feminist Caucus Special Conference Update
  • Disability Caucus Joint Committee Update
  • BIPOC Caucus Call for Members
  • Join Comms!
  • Swag Survey
  • Strike Research Survey, Seeking GEO Participants
  • UM Epidemiology COVID-19 Immunity Study
  • Interactive U-M GEO Strike Timeline

We can hardly believe we’re presenting you with the last newsletter of 2020. It has been a rough year for us all. To everyone, whether you were a GSI, a GSSA, a GSRA, or just on fellowship this term – you did a great job despite the heavy burden of teaching, studying, researching, and going through life during a pandemic, facing down the neoliberalism of U-M administration, taking to the picket line for change. GEO’s organizing power and solidarity this year has been beyond expectation. We hope that you can all take some time during winter break to relax safely, and that we come back in January stronger than ever.

By the way, did you know that you can suggest content for our newsletters? Fill out the form at bit.ly/GEOAnnounce and we’ll figure out if/ how we can circulate the announcements, events, fundraisers, etc., you’d like to pass to wider membership.

Rest well, mask up, and happy new year!!


Winter 2021 FAQs for GSIs

GEO’s Grievance Committee has compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions that are helpful for those teaching next term. Check it out at

https://www.geo3550.org/2020/11/18/winter-2021-faq-for-gsis/.

The International GSI Caucus previously put together a FAQ for internationals students regarding potential visa issues for international students if classes move fully online: https://www.geo3550.org/covid-19-and-igsis-faqs/

The International Center continues to offer comprehensive information at https://www.internationalcenter.umich.edu/travel-guidance-international-student


GEO Winter Shutdown

Typically, over most of winter break, GEO scales back regular operations to give all officers, staff, and chairs a bit of a break. This year, GEO’s shutdown will run December 9th, 2020 to January 10th, 2021, with return to regular operations on January 11th.

The Grievance Chairs/ Committee will be on deck through this period to help with possible contract violations during this time, so please reach out to them at grievancechair@geo3550.org if you or any of your colleagues need assistance with problems of this nature. Some other committee work will continue at a limited scale.

Staff will be checking our umgeo@geo3550.org address, so you are still able to email us; however, response times will be a little longer than typical.


American Federation of Teachers Raid on Michigan Medicine Nurses

Full statement at: https://www.geo3550.org/2020/12/02/petition-against-aft-raid-on-michigan-medicine-nurses/

Sign the petition at bit.ly/NoAFTRaid!

As members of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), GEO is disappointed and alarmed to learn that our parent union is attempting to raid the Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) by urging the University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council at Michigan Medicine (UMPNC) to decertify. Instead of putting more resources into organizing the thousands of unorganized workers at the University of Michigan or increasing support for AFT locals on campus, AFT is attempting to steal another union’s members, breaking the bonds of labor solidarity. By encouraging UMPNC members to decertify from Michigan Nurses Association in order to join American Federation of Teachers, AFT is damaging on-campus labor relations, demoralizing Michigan Medicine nurses, and empowering the employer in the midst of a pandemic that has already taken so much from medical workers. It is unconscionable.

AFT’s move to break UMPNC away from MNA has polarized local labor coalitions and threatens to undermine years of work invested in building cross-campus labor solidarity. This serves to strengthen the hand of our common employer, already operating in shock-doctrine fashion through the pandemic and ensuing financial disruptions. On a statewide level, this raid divides nurses against each other and weakens nurses’ collective power.

As AFT members, we oppose the use of our union dues and resources to raid another union. We call on leadership in the American Federation of Teachers, including National AFT President Randi Weingarten and Michigan AFT President David Hecker to cease this raid and recommit AFT to principles of labor solidarity.


Housing Caucus Survey

The GEO Housing Caucus is a newly-formed entity that strives to become a significant instrument for housing activism within the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and Washtenaw County. They hope to bring housing issues to the forefront of social discourse, and participate in activities that make housing more affordable, equitable, and available to both students and residents across the Ann Arbor metro area.

The Housing Caucus is running a survey to (1) gain a better understanding of housing-related issues that affect GEO Membership the most, and (2) gauge graduate students’ interest in the GEO Housing Caucus for the 2020-2021 academic year.

If you are interested in organizing around housing activism and/ or have experiences to share, please use this form.


Winter 2021 Solidarity Dues

Will you be employed by the university next semester, but not as a GSI or GSSA? Automatic dues deduction only occurs for members who are currently employed as a GSI or GSSA, so consider paying solidarity dues! Many of the benefits from the strong contract GEO has negotiated over the years still apply (for example, GSRA’s have the same medical benefits as GSI’s and GSSA’s do). You can sign up to contribute here.

Have you contributed solidarity dues before? Why not let us know through our Solidarity Dues & Membership Campaign? We’ll be happy to use your testimonial to show other members why they should continue to support GEO even in terms when they are not employed as a GSI or GSSA.


Lakeshore Apartments Fire Relief

Donate to the GoFundMe here.

In the early morning of October 31st, 2020, there was a major fire at the Lakeshore Apartments complex in Ypsilanti. Thankfully, all people and most pets were safely evacuated. However, many homes have been completely destroyed and many families are currently displaced.

As families continue to cope with this loss and assess their needs over the next several weeks and months, the best way we can help is through financial donations, which will be distributed directly to the affected residents to use toward their own specific needs as they work to replace what they have lost. Thank you all in advance!


Connect the Camps Fundraiser

Working in partnership with the Southeast Michigan Migrant Resource Council (SEMMRC), Washtenaw Solidarity with Farmworkers (WSF) is working to fundraise enough money to install Internet infrastructure at three migrant camps and to pay the monthly costs of internet services at five migrant camps (the three camps mentioned previously plus two others the SEMMRC has already provided Internet for).

Donate Here to Support this Project: bit.ly/connect_the_camps

More Information:

Farmworkers are an integral part of our food system, with skills and knowledge that uniquely suit them to fill a niche necessary for getting people’s food on the table. Yet they are often denied the respect that should come with their essential role, instead facing indifference and sometimes even mistreatment. These “guest workers” deserve better.

During these complicated times, we have all learned that internet access is fundamental to remaining connected with our support systems. Working hundreds of miles away from their families to provide food for our tables, we believe that farmworkers should have access to this fundamental service as well.

This will result in supplying approximately 300-350 migrant workers with the means to:

  • Have contact with their family members!
  • Take advantage of telehealth appointments for health, prescriptions
  • Participate in online training
  • Improve English language skills
  • And other important opportunities

Washtenaw Solidarity with Farmworkers (WSF) is a group based in Washtenaw County which acts in support of farmworkers in Michigan, provides resources where possible, and educates interested parties about the farmworker community, both historically and present day. WSF came together to organize in support of the national Coalition of Immokalee Worker campaigns and has since expanded to support organizing local farmworker initiatives in Southeast Michigan.

In solidarity,

Washtenaw Solidarity with Farmworkers


Memorial Caravan for Prisoner Lives, Lansing (12/12 @ 12pm)

Full details at Facebook event.

Friends, family members, and supporters of prisoners held in Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) cages will hold a mass funeral for the 86 people who have died of COVID-19 behind bars since March to draw attention to the MDOC’s callous and lethal response to the novel coronavirus.

As of December 1, 2020, there have been over twelve thousand positive cases and 88 reported deaths throughout Michigan prisons. It is nearly certain that the actual number of COVID deaths is higher, since the official numbers reflect a .7% death rate, lower than any other known population sample. Currently, multiple prison facilities–Marquette, Egeler, parts of Chippewa, and Central Michigan, among others–are on lockdown due to outbreaks.

[Quick details:]

? Wear black

? Decorate your car, bring signs or images of your incarcerated loved one(s).

? Meet in Macs Bar parking lot (2700 E Michigan Ave, Lansing)

? Wear masks and practice social distancing when not in vehicle


Pull Over Prevention December Clinic (12/12 @ 12pm)Pull Over Prevention Page and December Event.

Interactions with the police can mean the difference between life and death for many folks, especially folks who are minoritized and racialized. Vehicle maintenance increases your chance of avoiding these interactions, but can be a nuisance or expensive. But this event provides vehicle maintenance – and so much more! – for FREE.

The organizers repair brake lights, head lights, tail lights, and turn signals. They also can check and refill tires and other fluids. Other maintenance, if possible, can also be offered, and they will have trained mechanics available for consultations. They may not be able to service every car or issue, but they will try their best.

There will be free food, childcare, and information about community resources.

This event is entirely FREE and VOLUNTEER-RUN. If you would like to donate to support this event and future Pull Over Prevention Clinics, you can send a donation via PayPal to mutualaidnetworkypsi@gmail.com. Please specify that the donation is for the Pull Over Prevention Clinic and send it as ‘friends and family’ so no fees are charged.

ACCESS INFORMATION:

Mechanic service will be set up on a flat parking lot with plenty of space available between cars if necessary. Tables for other activities/resources will also be set up on an accessible, flat surface. Restroom access TBA.


Ann Arbor Tenants’ Union Visioning Meeting for 2021 (12/13 @ 6pm)

Is your rent too high? Is your landlord a scumbag? Do you want to protect your neighbors and your community? The Ann Arbor Tenants Union is having an introductory meeting this Sunday, December 13 at 6-8pm, via Zoom to plan for our strategy in the coming year.

If you are a renter in Washtenaw County interested in getting involved with AATU, please mark your calendar for this meeting, it’s a great moment to join!

RSVP here: https://forms.gle/m3uWKoqR4GrzRijg9

Facebook event: https://fb.me/e/VphWN8eu


Feminist Caucus Special Conference Update

On November 16th, members of the Feminist Caucus held their first special conference with representatives from HR, OIE, and SAPAC as the Joint Committee on a Workplace Free of Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct. This meeting kicked off discussion on the three major issues that last year’s contract failed to address: sexual misconduct during fieldwork, inconsistencies and weaknesses within sexual misconduct trainings, and OIE’s incompetent handling of sexual misconduct allegations. Feminist Caucus is optimistic about the possibilities for concrete change in the wake of this conversation — please contact them if you’d like to know more or get involved (feministchair@geo3550.org)!

Feminist Caucus would also like to acknowledge a huge debt of gratitude to the 118 members that responded to their member-wide survey. 118 is both a depressing number–too many people affected by sexual harassment and misconduct on this campus–and an inspiring one–so many people who care enough to share their stories and advocate for change. Thanks to you, FC was able to share compelling data at the special conference that affirms graduate workers need better sexual misconduct policies and trainings.


Disability Caucus Joint Committee Update

GEO’s Disability Caucus held its first Joint Committee with UM on the topic of disability accommodations. While UM has yet to make substantial changes in the accommodations process in light of the Rackham Report on disability accommodations, we’re hopeful that they will do so in the coming term. In the meantime, we will be focusing on department-level education around disability accommodations, for both members and administration. If you’re interested in getting involved, please email disabilitycaucus@geo3550.org! If you or someone you know needs employment or academic accommodations, you can find instructions here (note that SSD has a new electronic intake form which is less of a burden and does not require documentation for an initial consultation). We encourage anyone who might need employment accommodations next semester to apply for them early, and to please reach out to us if they have any questions about the process or potential accommodations. If you think you might benefit from an accommodation, but are unsure of what possible accommodations look like, we recommend browsing this database for ideas.


BIPOC Caucus Call for Members

We would like to announce the creation of the BIPOC Caucus and put out a call for members. To get involved, email BIPOCchair@geo3550.org

The Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Caucus is a space for thinking through and organizing around the intersections of race and labor. The necessity for this caucus became most clear in the time leading up to and during the GEO strike. During this time, GEO made outward and undeniably earnest commitments to fighting for racial justice, but failed to center the voices and needs of people of color in the articulation of their demands.

The seeds for this caucus were planted by the efforts of a handful of grad students of color who worked tirelessly during the last days of the strike to create actionable demands that followed through on GEO’s commitments to racial justice and incorporated the asks and needs of the undergraduate Students of Color Liberation Front (SoC LF).

The BIPOC Caucus exists to amplify the voices of people of color within this union and in the larger University of Michigan community, including but not limited to the voices of undergraduates and staff.


Join Comms!

Are you looking for a way to get more involved with GEO? Do you have a knack for talking to press, writing public-facing content (like this newsletter!) and op-eds, social media promotion, and/ or photo and video editing? Then Comms is the committee for you!


The Communications Committee is always welcoming new members. If you’d like to join us, send us an email at commchair@geo3550.org.

You can contact other committee chairs about joining their committees if you are interested!: https://www.geo3550.org/about/contact/


Swag Survey

We know you loved your GEO face masks. We are now looking into creating more GEO merch for Winter 2021, and we need your help! Fill out our survey/design contest form at http://bit.ly/SwagSurveyGEO to let us know what types of merch you’d like to see and what the merch should say on it. You can even submit a design that we’ll consider using for the final product! If your design is selected, we will award you with a gift card to use at a local business. The survey will be open until the start of next semester, so get your design caps on and let us know what awesome GEO swag you need for next semester.


Strike Research Survey, Seeking GEO Participants

Dr. Jacob A. Bennett is researching how graduate student employees describe their experiences of dignity in the action of striking and is seeking survey participants from GEO members. It is a short demographic survey with an option to indicate interest in participating in follow-up interviews. This research is IRB approved (University of New Hampshire), and the survey questions have been reviewed by GEO leadership to ensure anonymity. The survey can be found here and the electronic consent form for the interview component (detailing risks/benefits, privacy, and methodology) can be found here. Dr. Bennett is not affiliated with the University of Michigan.


UM Epidemiology COVID-19 Immunity Study

Are you working on campus at least 2 days a week? Consider enrolling in this Immunity study from the School of Public Health. If selected, you will receive antibody testing, and repeated viral testing if you develop symptoms. To get involved, contact IASOstudy@med.umich.edu

Are you a University of Michigan employee interested in COVID-19 research? We're looking for University of Michigan employees who regularly interact with other employees, patients, students, and or the general public to investigate immunity from SARS-CoV-2. Participants will receive COVID-19 monitoring for duration of the study. All study related interventions are covered by the IASO study. All surveys will be conducted remotely. Blood samples can be taken at any University of Michigan blood draw station. Interested? Email: IASOstudy@med.umich.edu

Interactive U-M GEO Strike Timeline

Check out this awesome interactive timeline chronicling GEO’s organizing through 2020!

GEO December Newsletter