At bargaining on Friday, HR put forward a so-called ‘comprehensive package’ of proposals, addressing our entire suite of proposals. The package offered the same ‘raise’ in the first year of around $100 per month that HR has been offering since before grad workers went on strike. Though HR inched up by a few dollars in years 2 and 3, this sub-inflation raise in the first year represents an effective pay cut for grad workers and will exacerbate the already severe cost of living crisis. HR also made incremental movement on issues like harassment protections and support for international students, yet remains far from what GEO members say is necessary to meet our needs.
HR threatened to move to ‘fact-finding’ if grads don’t make significant concessions. This is an escalation by the Administration because fact-finding lays the groundwork for declaring “impasse,” a legal maneuver that allows U-M to impose its last offer on us. Fact-finding could take months, and imposing a contract would be a huge escalation that would likely provoke a strong response from labor unions and the campus community. As usual, HR is trying to scare us into taking their offer. We’ll discuss how to respond at the next GMM on May 25 (RSVP at bit.ly/May25GMM). Members can attend bargaining on Tuesday to discuss and learn more (RSVP at bit.ly/bargsesh).
Rackham Pulls Some Grads’ Funding
On Wednesday, over 40 grads and allies held a picket outside the LSA building to protest the chaos around summer funding this year. Numerous workers who were promised summer funding by their departments have now had that promise retracted, leaving them scrambling to make ends meet over the summer months. Many of these workers turned down summer internships and research positions with the expectation of this funding, only to have it taken away at the last minute. The scramble for summer funding is something all-too familiar to grad workers at the University of Michigan. Grads are demanding to be paid a year-round living wage precisely because no one should be self- funding their own research over the summer. We work 12-months of the year and should get paid for 12- months of the year.
The chaos surrounding the Rackham Plan rollout demonstrates why we need it in the contract. Only by putting the Rackham Plan in the contract – and ensuring it covers all grad workers – can we ensure our financial stability year round. Anything less exposes us to more of the chaos that our colleagues are currently facing.
“The Rackham plan has resulted in chaos. Just last week LSA blocked funding already promised to workers by individual departments, and many workers are left out completely. Summer funding is not a bonus or extra: critically, it represents 30% of a living wage. This mess is why it has to be guaranteed and in the contract.”
Take the Fight to the Regents This Thursday
The Regents are the top decision makers at this University. A group of millionaires and billionaires, they’ve called our demand for a living wage of $38k “unrealistic”. This Thursday at their meeting at U-M Dearborn, grads will have the chance to voice our frustration with their lack of leadership. Sign up at bit.ly/GEOPicketShift. Car pooling available.