Transgender Rights and Title IX

It is a frightening time to be transgender in the US. The Supreme Court is now stacked with a solidly anti-trans majority for the foreseeable future, and the full-scale assault on trans people’s civil rights is already in its early stages. In their most overtly anti-trans move to date, the Trump administration recently began pushing to redefine ‘sex’ in its interpretation of Title IX anti-discrimination laws, rejecting reality and erasing the existence of trans people. This will have widespread consequences, especially for educational institutions, and the University of Michigan is no exception.

The shifting national landscape and this most recent decay of civil rights protections increases the urgency of local fights for trans rights. Trans activists are working in a much more hostile landscape, and the erosion of access to legal leverage empowers well-funded organizations who are actively working against them.

The University must demonstrate that they are going to stand with their trans students and employees, rather than align themselves with the Trump administration and the nationwide ascendance of transphobia. A cosmetic veneer of trans allyship in the University’s media communications is not sufficient when the status quo is shifting towards overt trans disposability.

If you are wondering what kind of concrete steps you can take in solidarity with your increasingly at-risk trans peers and colleagues at the University of Michigan,

  1. Write to the Title IX coordinator (at Institutional.equity@umich.edu) and remind them, in the strongest possible terms, of the need to protect trans students and employees in the face of growing national hostility. Here is a template of a letter you can use.
  2. Sign this open letter to the University’s Medical Benefits Advisory Committee (MBAC), which is conducting a review on the coverage of transition-related healthcare. Now more than ever, they must be made aware of the gravity of their upcoming, highly consequential decision. Read more about the status of transition-related care at UM here.
  3. Join our allies list to receive updates about GEO’s ongoing campaign for equitable trans healthcare at UM, and to alerts for future actions and organizing opportunities.

Statement Regarding Letters of Recommendation

The following was posted on our Facebook page on October 13, 2018 at 11am:

GEO is aware of recent events that have raised questions regarding on what grounds instructors may deny students letters of recommendation. We are in conversation with Lucy Peterson and are navigating the particularities of her situation and supporting her as a member of our union. In a statement on October 9, President Schlissel and Provost Philbert highlighted the necessity of addressing these questions with new policies. GEO will have future conversations in which we collectively discuss and articulate our position on these issues, and we fully expect that GEO will be included in any and all discussions insofar as these policies affect our role as GSIs.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at umgeo@geo3550.org if you have any questions or concerns.

Newsletter 9/27: General Membership Meeting on Wednesday…and other updates!

First Membership Meeting of the Term!

  • Come kick off Platform Development as we gear up to bargain next Fall
  • Get informed about how Right to Work has affected GEO
  • Update from UM Nurses on recent strike approval
  • Find out the different ways you can get involved and meet other GEO members
  • …and more!

Check out the the GMM Event page here.


GEO Stands with UM Nurses

University of Michigan nurses have overwhelmingly voted to authorize a work stoppage and GEO stands with them in solidarity.

“Our goal is a fair agreement which respects nurses and guarantees safe staffing,” said Katie Oppenheim, RN, chair of University of Michigan Professional Nurses Council. “The University can remedy this situation immediately, by stopping their unfair labor practices and bargaining in good faith.”

How can you get involved and stay informed?


Not Teaching This Term?

 

GEO is a labor union representing graduate student employees, yet many of the benefits we negotiate in our contract become the baseline for graduate student packages and are extended to graduate students even when they don’t teach. These include GradCare, tuition waivers, and annual raises. All graduate students benefit from GEO and have a vested interest in keeping our union strong. See your options for contributing solidarity dues in terms you do not teach!


Benefit Spotlight: GSI Substitution Policy

Replacement coverage: When a GSI needs replacement GSI coverage due to taking approved leave, including extra-contractual leave that is approved by the department, it is the ultimate responsibility of the department to either find and pay the replacement GSI, or pay the replacement GSI that has been identified by the GSI requiring a replacement. Which is to say, in practice, it’s ideal if possible for the GSI requiring a replacement to, at minimum, let the Lead Instructor and the Department know, and if possible, help them identify a replacement. Ultimately, though, so long as you notify the department of your absence, it is the department’s responsibility to find someone and to pay them for the replacement coverage. Many departments encourage an informal “trading” system of replacement coverage. You may engage in this if you wish, but ideally the department should be following the procedure outlined above.

Read about this and other benefits contained in your GEO contract here.


Text Alerts from Political Action Team

Soon GEO will begin utilizing text messaging technology called Hustle for some of our future organizing efforts, including providing electoral action information. This technology enables individual activists to have multiple, yet personalized conversations and to provide members updates and reminders in a format that many have identified as their preferred way to receive communications. We hope that you will find these text messages helpful. However if you receive a text from us and do not wish to receive more, you can opt out on the spot by simply texting back and stating that preference.


Many Ways to Get Involved

GEO is a member-run union powered by the volunteer efforts of its members. There are opportunities for members with all skills and availability to get involved. If you’re interested in any of the volunteer-run committees below, email the committee chair or check out the GEO calendar on our website or subscribe to the GEO events calendar to see when the committee is meeting next in our Liberty St. offices.

  • Organizing Committee (OC) – every other Wed at 10am, next meeting on Oct 3
  • Solidarity and Political Action Committee (SPAC) –  Wed at 12pm
  • Electoral Action Subcommittee (EAS) –  Wed at 1:30pm
  • Grievance – every other Fri at 1:45, next meeting on Oct 5
  • Platform Development –  Fri at 1pm
  • North Campus Task Force (NCTF) – every other Fri at 4pm, next meeting on Oct 5
  • Stewards Council (Stews) – every other Wed at 6pm, next meeting on Oct 10
  • Communications (Comms) – every other Mon at 3pm, next meeting on Oct 1
  • Trans Health –  Mon at 4pm
  • Disability – stay tuned!
  • Feminist Caucus – stay tuned!
  • Finance – ad hoc, email the Treasurer to get involved

Newsletter 9/5: Welcome Back from GEO!

Good luck to all GSIs and GSSAs on the new semester!

If you are teaching as a GSI or working as a GSSA, make sure to get informed of your rights and benefits in our GEO contract digest, or the full contract.

A few important start-of-term reminders:

  • Track your hours! Make sure your work expectations remain within your appointment fraction and that youhave documentation to show if you are consistently going above your hours during the term. Check out our resources for tracking hours here.
  • If you are an international GSI or GSSA, fill out your SEVIS FEE reimbursement form
  • Our newly won $700 annual cap on mental health copays in now in effect! You can track your spending by logging into you healthcare benefits account.
  • Alert Rackham at the start of the term if you plan to use your Childcare Subsidy by filling out this form. Doing so will avoid retroactive reductions of the subsidy from need-based grants you receive. Contact denise@geo3550.org with questions.

Recruiting for GEO Sexual Harassment Committee

We need your help! GEO members are beginning to meet in order to address harassment and sexual misconduct at UM. This issue is widespread among college campuses and there is significant interest in researching how graduate students can help change the culture and policies of the university and beyond. If you’re interested in getting involved, please email liz@geo3550.org. Our next meeting will be Wed, Sep 19, 2018 at 11am

in the GEO office (339 E. Liberty Street Suite 340).


Not Teaching this Term?

GEO is a labor union representing graduate student employees, yet many of the benefits we negotiate in our contract become the baseline for graduate student packages and are extended to graduate students even when they don’t teach. These include GradCare, tuition waivers, and annual raises. All graduate students benefit from GEO and have a vested interest in keeping our union strong. See your options for contributing solidarity dues in terms you do not teach!


 

GEO Supports the Ongoing Prisoners’ Strike!

GEO (AFT-MI Local 3550, AFL-CIO) supports the National Prisoners Strike, August 21st to September 9th, 2018. The nationwide strike is being called in response to the incident of violence at Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina, April 2018, in which dozens of workers were injured and seven were killed. These deaths could have easily been avoided had the facility not been overcrowded; had the inmates not been subjected to hopeless and violent conditions; and had prison guards and EMTs not waited hours before intervening. In the aftermath, all Level 2 and 3 facilities in South Carolina were put on statewide lockdown, denying prisoners any freedom of movement, regular access to showers, recreation, or meals outside their cells.

Organizers of the strike are thus fighting for humane living and working conditions, access to rehabilitation, sentencing reform, and an end to mass incarceration. (The full list of demands can be found here).

The strike call has also been endorsed by, amongst others, the Graduate Employees’ Organization (IFT/AFT Local 6300, AFL-CIO) of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW); Jailhouse Lawyers Speak; Millions for Prisoners; The People’s Consortium.

Further information:


Upcoming Events


Join GEO in Lansing for National Prison Strike Rally!

GEO (AFT-MI Local 3550, AFL-CIO) supports the National Prisoners Strike, August 21st to September 9th, 2018. In order to draw attention to incarcerated workers’ demands, and to deter retaliation against participating prisoners, we call upon workers to join the solidarity march and rally in Lansing on Thursday, August 23rd.

The nationwide strike is being called in response to the incident of violence at Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina, April 2018, in which dozens of workers were injured and seven were killed. These deaths could have easily been avoided had the facility not been overcrowded; had the inmates not been subjected to hopeless and violent conditions; and had prison guards and EMTs not waited hours before intervening. In the aftermath, all Level 2 and 3 facilities in South Carolina were put on statewide lockdown, denying prisoners any freedom of movement, regular access to showers, recreation, or meals outside their cells.

Organizers of the strike are thus fighting for humane living and working conditions, access to rehabilitation, sentencing reform, and an end to mass incarceration. (The full list of demands can be found here.)

The strike call has also been endorsed by, amongst others, the Graduate Employees’ Organization (IFT/AFT Local 6300, AFL-CIO) of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW); Jailhouse Lawyers Speak; Millions for Prisoners; The People’s Consortium.

Further information: