What is bargaining?

Every three years, UM graduate workers get to negotiate with the University over our employment contract. Through contract negotiations, representatives from GEO and from Academic Human Resources sit in a room and pass language back and forth, attempting to get the other side to make concessions and reach an agreement on a contract. This contract determines our working and living conditions, pay, benefits, protections, and more – and winning a fair contract is essential for our ability to earn a living wage and achieve affordability and dignity for grad workers.

What are our demands?

We are fighting for affordability and dignity for grad workers and showing up to bargaining to win them. We are showing up for a living wage – a 60% increase to meet local living wage standards. We are showing up for emergency funds for international student expenses. We are showing up for subsidized childcare & 12 weeks of paid family leave. We are showing up for transitional funding for grads in abusive advising situations. We are showing up for each other and our community to ensure that all graduate students can work and live affordably and with dignity.

For a detailed overview of our demands, check out our Bargaining Platform Guide: https://bit.ly/GEO-Platform

These platform demands were democratically generated with input and involvement from over 1,200 graduate students over the past year and were overwhelmingly approved by 99% of GEO members at our November General Membership Meeting.

What role do members play? Why is it important that I attend a bargaining session?

Our power at the bargaining table stems directly from our numbers and our collective action. A handful of grad workers at a table asking for a living wage is unlikely to succeed. All of Us demanding one is unstoppable. We, graduate students and GEO members, need to bring our collective strength in numbers to the bargaining table and show HR that we are united and serious about these demands – this means every member showing up at bargaining, for themself and for each other.

There are two steps that every graduate student needs to take: 

  1. Sign up for a bargaining shift yourself: bit.ly/bargsesh.

Rules for the bargaining room:

  1. POKER FACE AT ALL TIMES (this includes no applause or booing); take notes about reactive moments to share later
  2. No one speaks except the lead negotiator unless planned
  3. No recording of any kind
  4. Use the Google Form bit.ly/BTNote to send notes to the bargaining team at any time if you want to talk, let them know something, or request that we call a “caucus” (a break where we can ask management to leave the room for private conversation time)