On March 7, nearly 100 grads and undergrad allies took the streets during President Ono’s inauguration to protest the University’s lack of serious counters. The action came hot on the heels of grads filing Unfair Labor Practice charges against the University for bargaining in bad faith. This pattern continued on Friday, as HR called a living wage for grad workers “exorbitant” and went to the mat to defend ableist policies. Meanwhile, Governor Gretchen Whitmer expressed her support for a living wage for grad students.
Negotiation Bulletin #12: Over 1,000 Pledge YES on Strike as 3/1 TA Deadline Passes
On Feb 21, over 600 grads discussed the lack of progress at the table. With the March 1 deadline for a tentative agreement looming, the discussion of what to do next quickly converged on strike preparation. At the last bargaining session before the TA deadline on February 24, it was clear that management had no intention of honoring the 3/1 deadline specified in our contract. Over 1,000 GEO members have now pledged “yes” on a strike authorization vote! ign the pledge and get your colleagues to do the same! bit.ly/GEOStrikePledge
Negotiation Bulletin #11: Grads Speak at Regents Meeting, HR Stalls at the Table
On Feb 16th, grad workers in GEO and P4P rallied outside the School of Social Work before packing the room at the Regents Meeting. MSW grad Justice Cook explained that many MSWs are forced to take second jobs, making degree requirements–including 900 unpaid internship hours–nearly impossible to fulfill. MSW Larisa Mednis urged the Regents to bargain with grads over MSW compensation. 70 MSWs do their field placements at U-M, providing the University with nearly $1.3 million in unpaid labour. At the bargaining table, HR once again struck all of our proposed contract language, but had to face a powerful testimony from a grad worker who said: “How dare [HR] propose such ridiculous proposals on compensation without even having done the math of how a grad student would survive on those amounts, especially for those of us with additional costs?”
Negotiation Bulletin #10: Grads Demand Real Counters
In a huge culmination of the Week of Grad Labor Visibility, hundreds of grad workers and dozens of allies turned out for open bargaining and called for U-M to seriously engage with grad workers’ needs. HR asserted without evidence that paying grad workers a living wage is “infeasible,” and argued that U-M’s system for addressing harassment and discrimination had been fixed. In the afternoon, a panel of fellow U-M workers discussed how they won better contracts when union members took mass collective action. Attend the General Membership Meeting on Feb 21 (bit.ly/GEOEvents) to decide how we’re going to escalate and win!
Negotiation Bulletin #9: HR Proposes Effective Wage Cut, Rejects Almost All Grad Workers’ Proposals
Over 250 workers participated in bargaining on Friday in anticipation of HR’s counter on our demand for a living wage. Since 2020, the gap between our salary and the local cost of living has tripled to over $14.5k. In November, grad workers proposed that the University pay us a living wage of $38,500. Three months later, HR has responded with a proposal for an annual 2% raise for each year of the contract (2023-2026). In the words of Isaac, a grad worker in Chemistry, “2% is milk numbers, not raise numbers.”
The University has now rejected almost our entire platform.
Take action during the Week of Grad Labor Visibility (bit.ly/GEOGradWeek) from Feb. 6 to Feb. 10!