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A group of people picketing in the rain wearing purple ponchos and holding strike sigs. They are next to a construction site

On Thursday, Santa Ono proved he would rather try to arrest his workers than pay us a living wage, calling the cops on picketers just hours after withholding pay from hundreds of striking grad workers. Grads had arrived outside Ono’s private dinner party on Thursday evening, hoping to discuss UM’s decision to withhold pay. When Ono refused to speak with them, Grads continued to picket outside the restaurant until Ono left, immediately getting into his car and once again ignoring the picketers. Grads stood in front of the car with hands held up, chanting “what do we want? Our paychecks now.” Instead of engaging with his workers, Ono remained in his vehicle, which accelerated into the grads, pushing them into the intersection. Although the restaurant was several blocks off campus, campus police arrived. Instead of deescalating, they shoved and detained workers. Picketers and bystanders gathered at the scene, chanting “let them go.” After several minutes, the officers released the detained workers.

From Alejo in Romance Languages: “This is what we’ve been saying all along. The University prioritizes spending over $32 million on policing alone, not to mention administrators’ bonuses, instead of paying graduate workers a living wage and paying their fair share to fund an unarmed, non-police emergency response program. Coincidentally, $32 million is also what it would cost the University to pay graduate workers a living wage. This incident illustrates the role that campus cops play in protecting the powerful and the wealthy, not the workers.”

The Regents responded to the attempted arrest by issuing a hastily-written statement calling grad workers “unruly” and our demand for a living wage “unrealistic”. According to Michael Mueller in Math “what’s really ‘unrealistic’ is expecting anyone to live in Ann Arbor on $24k”.

From the Bargaining Table

At bargaining on Friday, GEO passed a substantially reformatted compensation proposal, the result of hours of town hall discussion and hard work on behalf of our membership. In return, HR passed 10 proposals, including proposals that encompassed such critical issues as childcare and access to healthcare unchanged from their last pass. Throughout the day, HR provided inadequate justifications for their refusal to move. When asked why they would not lower barriers to trans health care by removing the blanket requirement for written referral letters, they responded that they could not do it because they had never done it before. Grads got some real movement on International Worker issues, as HR for the first time agreed to create our proposed International Worker Emergency Fund. HR’s proposal, however, provides only 10% of funds grads requests and is contingent on grads dropping our proposed healthcare fund.

A circular group of people dancing
A group of people dancing with two people centered

Despite HR’s intransigence, grads remained undeterred, holding a dance party on the third floor of Palmer Commons. As bargaining wrapped up for the day, the party moved to the fourth floor, into the room where just moments before, HR had fought so hard to deny us the dignity and affordability we are due. In a moment that fused the heartbeat of the picket line with the freedom of a dance party, grads showed that we’re prepared to keep fighting.

Sign Up to Picket During Finals Week

As the semester draws to a close, it’s critical that grads continue to make our strike visible by picketing on Central & North campuses. With beautiful weather and many opportunities to make a big impact, this week won’t be one to miss! You can sign up for picket shifts at Bring your colleagues!

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