Statement of Solidarity with Latinx student group La Casa regarding the reinstatement of the Provost Award

The Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) stands in solidarity with La Casa and is in full support of their demands that the University of Michigan financially support the enrollment of low-income students of color through scholarship programs. The Provost Award, a scholarship program which functioned to support low-income students and students of color, was recently replaced with the Victor’s Award; the impact that this shift has had on Latinx student enrollment is dire. As La Casa’s statement indicates, Latinx student enrollment has declined this year even as overall incoming class size has increased. This is unacceptable. The University must honor its commitments to diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism by investigating this decline in enrollment and financially investing in recruiting and supporting the enrollment of students of color. The University’s austerity measures should not disproportionately impact students of color. President Mark Schlissel’s response, which dismissed La Casa’s concerns and refused further conversation, is also unacceptable and shows an unwillingness on the part of administration to take the needs of students of color seriously. 

GEO understands this decline as one symptom of a larger web of issues that demonstrate how racism proliferates within the University, and we stand with La Casa, as well as the larger Students of Color Liberation Front, as they work to combat racism at the University of Michigan.   

[Updated 2/5] GEO maintains La Casa’s message that the Victors Award does not adequately support low-income, out-of-state students. We demand that a meeting be set up with La Casa to seriously discuss the impact of the Victors Award. We also demand that data, if does exists, be released to corroborate claims that the disproportionate decrease of first-year Latinx, Black, and Native American students can be attributed mainly to COVID-19 and not the major financial policy switch from Provost Award to Victors Award. 

BIPOC Caucus, GEO 3550

January Newsletter

Contents

  • LEO Bargaining Kick-off
  • Petition for Regent Weiser’s Resignation
  • COVID-19 Vaccine Info Page
  • Pull Over Prevention Event
  • Call for Washtenaw County Health Dept to freeze evictions
  • Commitment to Protecting Democracy
  • Winter 2021 FAQs for GSIs
  • Winter 2021 Solidarity Dues
  • BIPOC Caucus Call for Members
  • Join Comms!
  • Interactive U-M GEO Strike Timeline

Happy New Year and welcome to the Winter semester! We sincerely hope you’ve all found ways—small or large—to rest during the university break. As we start this new term, we’re excited to bring a reinvigorated spirit to our work, including solidarity with our sibling union, LEO, as they begin bargaining. As many of us prepare for new appointments as GSIs, GSSAs, GSRAs, or as we prepare for another semester of classes and research, we want to commend all of our members who have done tremendous work—including university labor, domestic labor, community care, self care—while living through a global pandemic, failing political and social systems, and increasingly flagrant instances of anti-Black racism, anti-Semitism, and other forms of discrimination. You’ve all done an amazing job at navigating previously unimaginable circumstances, and we’re excited to move forward into the new year together.

Below are several updates on U-M and community goings-on. In addition to the email version of this message, we’ve made a Google Doc version (with bookmarks) available, for increased accessibility.

Take care, mask up, and solidarity forever.


(Did you know that you can suggest content for our newsletters? Fill out the form at bit.ly/GEOAnnounce, and we’ll figure out if/ how we can circulate the announcements, events, fundraisers, etc., you’d like to pass to wider membership.)


LEO Bargaining Kick-off

Our sibling union, Lecturers’ Employee Organization begins their bargaining season THIS FRIDAY! They are having an event to kick off bargaining; allies are welcome to join from 9:30-10:15. It’s really important that we show solidarity with the lecturers, and it will be powerful to see a strong GEO presence at the event! You can register here.


Petition for Regent Weiser’s Resignation

Following Regent Ron Weiser’s comments downplaying the violent pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol last week, a petition has been started asking for Weiser’s resignation (check out this Michigan Daily article for more details). GEO has endorsed this petition alongside other organizations on campus, including Central Student Government leadership, Climate Action Movement, U-M’s Roosevelt Society chapter, and the One University campaign. If you’d like to add your signature, the petition can be found here. A separate open letter, created by U-M faculty, can be found here.


COVID-19 Vaccine Info Page

GEO has created a resource page with information about the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination efforts at U-M. It includes general resources, information about Michigan Medicine’s process, and lays out the vaccination phases and current timeline. If you haven’t completed the BlueQueue survey to sign up for the vaccine (or if you do not have a confirmation email and would like to reaffirm your status in the queue), please visit this link to complete the survey. Any questions can be directed to bluequeue@med.umich.edu.


Pull Over Prevention Event

This Saturday, SE Michigan Pull Over Prevention will be hosting a free car repair and community coat drive event! While just a minor inconvenience to some, a busted tail light can result in deportation or death for others. SE MI Pull Over Prevention has gathered volunteer mechanics to help. There will be headlight and break light replacement, as well as fluid checks and refills, all at no cost. They’ll also be collecting coats and cold-weather gear for the community. There will also be snacks, household cleaning kits from the Washtenaw County Health Department, and relevant education materials. The event will take place 12-4pm on January 16, at 315 S Ford Blvd in Ypsilanti.


Call for Washtenaw County Health Department to Freeze Evictions

Health for All and The Community Voices for Health Equity Team are organizing to demand that the Washtenaw County Health Department use its emergency powers and freeze evictions through the end of the school year. In support of this effort, we are asking GEO members to please sign and share this petition and attend the Washtenaw County Board of Health’s January 22 meeting. The Zoom link for this meeting will be available on the Board of Health website.


Commitment to Protecting Democracy

As the U.S. House of Representatives again debate impeachment of Donald Trump, in the wake of January 6th’s deplorable riot at the U.S. Capitol, and leading up to next week’s inauguration, GEO reaffirms its commitment to work with allies in the community and in the labor movement to fight for and protect democracy. Read our statement from November here.


Winter 2021 FAQs for GSIs

GEO’s Grievance Committee has compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions that are helpful for those teaching next term.

The International GSI Caucus previously put together a FAQ for internationals students regarding potential visa issues if classes move fully online.

The International Center continues to offer comprehensive information at https://www.internationalcenter.umich.edu/travel-guidance-international-students

Don’t forget to submit a GradCare off-site registration form if you aren’t going to be located in Michigan! If you are currently living out of state it is advisable that you complete and return a GradCare Off Site Registration form to your department. You will need to complete the offsite form for each semester. Please enter complete dates for the semester (MM/DD/YYYY) in the specific program duration field.


Winter 2021 Solidarity Dues

Will you be employed by the university next semester, but not as a GSI or GSSA? Automatic dues deduction only occurs for members who are currently employed as a GSI or GSSA, so consider paying solidarity dues! Many of the benefits from the strong contract GEO has negotiated over the years still apply (for example, GSRA’s have the same medical benefits as GSI’s and GSSA’s do). You can sign up to contribute here.

Have you contributed solidarity dues before? Why not let us know through our Solidarity Dues & Membership Campaign? We’ll be happy to use your testimonial to show other members why they should continue to support GEO even in terms when they are not employed as a GSI or GSSA.


BIPOC Caucus Call for Members

We would like to announce the creation of the BIPOC Caucus and put out a call for members. To get involved, email BIPOCchair@geo3550.org

The Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Caucus is a space for thinking through and organizing around the intersections of race and labor. The necessity for this caucus became most clear in the time leading up to and during the GEO strike. During this time, GEO made outward and undeniably earnest commitments to fighting for racial justice, but failed to center the voices and needs of people of color in the articulation of their demands.

The seeds for this caucus were planted by the efforts of a handful of grad students of color who worked tirelessly during the last days of the strike to create actionable demands that followed through on GEO’s commitments to racial justice and incorporated the asks and needs of the undergraduate Students of Color Liberation Front (SoC LF).

The BIPOC Caucus exists to amplify the voices of people of color within this union and in the larger University of Michigan community, including but not limited to the voices of undergraduates and staff.


Join Comms!

Are you looking for a way to get more involved with GEO? Do you have a knack for talking to press, writing public-facing content (like this newsletter!) and op-eds, social media promotion, and/ or photo and video editing? Then Comms is the committee for you!


The Communications Committee is always welcoming new members. If you’d like to join us, send us an email at commchair@geo3550.org.

You can contact other committee chairs about joining their committees if you are interested!: https://www.geo3550.org/about/contact/


Interactive U-M GEO Strike Timeline

Check out this awesome interactive timeline chronicling GEO’s organizing through 2020!

COVID-19 Vaccination Info at the University of Michigan/ Michigan Medicine

Last updated: January 11th, 2021 at 10:36am.

This page is meant to offer a central location for information regarding the vaccination process being undertaken by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), from whom GEO’s COVID Caucus receives regular updates, and Michigan Medicine.

General Resources (please email us at commchair@geo3550.org if you have others to recommend!)

Quick COVID-19 Vaccination Information:

  • To do as soon as possible even if you do not otherwise receive healthcare at Michigan Medicine
    • Fill out the Blue Queue questionnaire to indicate interest in being vaccinated through Michigan Medicine: http://bit.ly/BlueQueue 
      • Please make sure to fill out the information with all of your medical information in mind, including histories of allergic reactions to vaccines and any existing conditions
      • After completing the form you should receive an email confirmation
        • If submitted in December, you may have not received an email. Please email Blue Queue to confirm your submission.
      • Any questions can be directed to bluequeue@med.umich.edu 
    • Establish a medical record number (MRN) if you do not have one. This can be done by calling (735) 936-4990 and pressing option 1.
    • Create a MyUofMHealth account (if you do not already have one)
  • Michigan Medicine will use both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines (both of which are very safe and effective and went through the entire FDA approval process)
  • You must wear a mask to your vaccination appointment and keep wearing a mask after being vaccinated
  • You must schedule your second dose through the MiChart/ MyUofMHealth portals for 21 days following your first dose
  • You should keep taking precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19 after you have been vaccinated – keep wearing a mask, washing your hands regularly, and maintaining social distancing

Vaccination Phases at Michigan Medicine

The state of Michigan has outlined multiple phases to identify the order in which Michigan residents should be vaccinated. Michigan Medicine is operating on the same outline with some adjustments. 

It is possible that the projected start dates for vaccination of the later phases may change. We will do our best to update this page with that information, but please also check the resources above.

  • Phase 1a, all currently ongoing:
    • Hospital and critical care workers
    • Other medical workers, students, and staff with direct patient contact
    • Anyone in health sciences colleges and schools
  • Phase 1b: starting January/ February 2021
    • Anyone age 75 years or older
    • School (pre-K and K-12) and childcare staff
    • Frontline essential workers in critical infrastructure 
  • Phase 1c:
    • All individuals aged 65+, starting January-February 2021
    • All individuals age 16-64 with conditions or states that increase the risk of severe illness, starting May 2021
      • Cancer
      • Chronic kidney disease
      • COPD
      • Down Syndrome
      • Heart conditions
      • Immunocompromised state following organ transplant or other immune deficiencies
      • Obesity 
      • High blood pressure/ hypertension
      • Pregnancy
      • Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
      • Smoking
      • Type 1 diabetes
      • Asthma (moderate to severe)
      • Cerebrovascular disease
      • Cystic fibrosis 
      • Liver disease
      • Neurologic conditions
      • Pulmonary fibrosis
    • All remaining essential workers, starting May-June 2021
  • Phase 2, all other individuals aged 16 to 74 not covered above, starting July-August 2021

Blue background with off-white text. To the right, two cartoon doctors stand in the foreground, with a blue shield in the background. One taller doctor with darker skin wearing blue scrubs holds a needle in one hand and a pill bottle in the other. The other doctor with glasses, short black hair, and lighter skin holds a tablet; they are wearing a white lab coat with a stethoscope in the pocket and have their hand on their hip.

To the left of the cartoon medical workers, the text reads: "COVID 19 Vaccine Info
High-risk individuals will be vaccinated in Phase 1c (estimated start: May, except for those 65+, starting Jan 11th)
All other adults who are not frontline, essential, or K-12 workers will be vaccinated in Phase 2 (estimated start: July)
Those of us who can be vaccinated should do so, for the safety of our community
We must continue to take appropriate precautions through the period of the vaccine roll-out"
Blue background with off-white text. To the right, a cartoon person with medium skin and medium-length wavy black hair and a white mask with a leaf pattern. They are wearing a black tank top beneath a pink off-the-shoulder shirt. 

Text on the left of the cartoon reads, "What should I do now? All U-M workers and students should fill out the Blue Queue Questionnaire (bit.ly/BlueQueue) to indicate interest in scheduling a vaccination appointment
If you have a history of allergic reactions to vaccines, indicate this on the questionnaire
Wear a mask to your vaccination appointment
If you receive your first dose, schedule your second for 21 days later through the MiChart/ MyUofMHealth portal "

Blue background with off-white text. To the right, a series of cartoon scenes. In the foreground, a  person with dark skin and hair wars a blue mask, blue shirt, and red cardigan. They are washing their hands thoroughly. In the background to the left, a medical worker with light skin is wearing a blue hair covering, blue gloves, and white medical suit. They are administering a nasal swab test to a person with light skin and dark hair, who has a blue mask and sweater. To the background on the right, two friends maintain social distancing - one is wearing a blue sweater, blue mask, and black pants - they have medium skin and short black hair. The other is wearing a blue scarf, black sweater, blue pants, black shoes, and a black mask - they are bald with medium skin. The friends are waving to each other as they stand far apart.

Text to the left reads, "To Know: Keep taking precautions to mitigate the risk of contracting & spreading COVID-19 - wash your hands, wear a mask, maintain social distancing, and schedule a test at UHS or off-campus if you become ill
Michigan Medicine will use both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines
You should continue to wear your mask even after being vaccinated
The vaccines went through the entire vaccination approval process, and are safe and effective!"
Blue background with off-white text. To the right, a cartoon doctor with dark skin and white eyebrows and beard is holding a clipboard. They wear a stethoscope around their neck, a lab coat, and a black tie. 

To the left, text reads, "Phase 1a (ongoing): Anyone in the health sciences colleges and schools or anyone delivering direct/ indirect care
Phase 1b (from Jan-Feb): Frontline essential workers in critical infrastructure (including childcare & security)
Phase 1c: Individuals age 16+ at high risk 
all individuals age 65+ (from Jan-Feb)
individuals age 16-64 at with conditions
that put them at high risk (from May)
Phase 2: Individuals 16 years of age or older 
not covered in previous phases (from July)"
Blue background with off-white text. To the right, a cartoon doctor with dark skin and white eyebrows and beard is holding a clipboard. They wear a stethoscope around their neck, a lab coat, and a black tie.

Blue background with off-white text. To the right, a cartoon doctor with dark skin and white eyebrows and beard is holding a clipboard. They wear a stethoscope around their neck, a lab coat, and a black tie. 

To the left, text reads, "Vaccination Phases in MI: Phase 1a (ongoing): Anyone in the health sciences colleges and schools or anyone delivering direct/ indirect care
Phase 1b (from Jan 11th): Frontline essential workers in critical infrastructure (including childcare & security)
Phase 1c: Individuals age 16+ at high risk 
all individuals age 65+ (from Jan 11th)
individuals age 16-64 at with conditions
that put them at high risk (from May)
Phase 2: Individuals 16 years of age or older 
not covered in previous phases (from July)"

GEO December Newsletter

Contents:

  • Winter 2021 FAQs for GSIs
  • GEO Winter Shutdown
  • American Federation of Teachers Raid on Michigan Medicine Nurses
  • Housing Caucus Survey
  • Winter 2021 Solidarity Dues
  • Lakeshore Apartments Fire Relief
  • Connect the Camps Fundraiser
  • Memorial Caravan for Prisoner Lives, Lansing (12/12 @ 12pm)
  • Pull Over Prevention December Clinic (12/12 @ 12pm)
  • Ann Arbor Tenants’ Union Visioning Meeting for 2021 (12/13 @ 6pm)
  • Feminist Caucus Special Conference Update
  • Disability Caucus Joint Committee Update
  • BIPOC Caucus Call for Members
  • Join Comms!
  • Swag Survey
  • Strike Research Survey, Seeking GEO Participants
  • UM Epidemiology COVID-19 Immunity Study
  • Interactive U-M GEO Strike Timeline

We can hardly believe we’re presenting you with the last newsletter of 2020. It has been a rough year for us all. To everyone, whether you were a GSI, a GSSA, a GSRA, or just on fellowship this term – you did a great job despite the heavy burden of teaching, studying, researching, and going through life during a pandemic, facing down the neoliberalism of U-M administration, taking to the picket line for change. GEO’s organizing power and solidarity this year has been beyond expectation. We hope that you can all take some time during winter break to relax safely, and that we come back in January stronger than ever.

By the way, did you know that you can suggest content for our newsletters? Fill out the form at bit.ly/GEOAnnounce and we’ll figure out if/ how we can circulate the announcements, events, fundraisers, etc., you’d like to pass to wider membership.

Rest well, mask up, and happy new year!!


Winter 2021 FAQs for GSIs

GEO’s Grievance Committee has compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions that are helpful for those teaching next term. Check it out at

https://www.geo3550.org/2020/11/18/winter-2021-faq-for-gsis/.

The International GSI Caucus previously put together a FAQ for internationals students regarding potential visa issues for international students if classes move fully online: https://www.geo3550.org/covid-19-and-igsis-faqs/

The International Center continues to offer comprehensive information at https://www.internationalcenter.umich.edu/travel-guidance-international-student


GEO Winter Shutdown

Typically, over most of winter break, GEO scales back regular operations to give all officers, staff, and chairs a bit of a break. This year, GEO’s shutdown will run December 9th, 2020 to January 10th, 2021, with return to regular operations on January 11th.

The Grievance Chairs/ Committee will be on deck through this period to help with possible contract violations during this time, so please reach out to them at grievancechair@geo3550.org if you or any of your colleagues need assistance with problems of this nature. Some other committee work will continue at a limited scale.

Staff will be checking our umgeo@geo3550.org address, so you are still able to email us; however, response times will be a little longer than typical.


American Federation of Teachers Raid on Michigan Medicine Nurses

Full statement at: https://www.geo3550.org/2020/12/02/petition-against-aft-raid-on-michigan-medicine-nurses/

Sign the petition at bit.ly/NoAFTRaid!

As members of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), GEO is disappointed and alarmed to learn that our parent union is attempting to raid the Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) by urging the University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council at Michigan Medicine (UMPNC) to decertify. Instead of putting more resources into organizing the thousands of unorganized workers at the University of Michigan or increasing support for AFT locals on campus, AFT is attempting to steal another union’s members, breaking the bonds of labor solidarity. By encouraging UMPNC members to decertify from Michigan Nurses Association in order to join American Federation of Teachers, AFT is damaging on-campus labor relations, demoralizing Michigan Medicine nurses, and empowering the employer in the midst of a pandemic that has already taken so much from medical workers. It is unconscionable.

AFT’s move to break UMPNC away from MNA has polarized local labor coalitions and threatens to undermine years of work invested in building cross-campus labor solidarity. This serves to strengthen the hand of our common employer, already operating in shock-doctrine fashion through the pandemic and ensuing financial disruptions. On a statewide level, this raid divides nurses against each other and weakens nurses’ collective power.

As AFT members, we oppose the use of our union dues and resources to raid another union. We call on leadership in the American Federation of Teachers, including National AFT President Randi Weingarten and Michigan AFT President David Hecker to cease this raid and recommit AFT to principles of labor solidarity.


Housing Caucus Survey

The GEO Housing Caucus is a newly-formed entity that strives to become a significant instrument for housing activism within the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and Washtenaw County. They hope to bring housing issues to the forefront of social discourse, and participate in activities that make housing more affordable, equitable, and available to both students and residents across the Ann Arbor metro area.

The Housing Caucus is running a survey to (1) gain a better understanding of housing-related issues that affect GEO Membership the most, and (2) gauge graduate students’ interest in the GEO Housing Caucus for the 2020-2021 academic year.

If you are interested in organizing around housing activism and/ or have experiences to share, please use this form.


Winter 2021 Solidarity Dues

Will you be employed by the university next semester, but not as a GSI or GSSA? Automatic dues deduction only occurs for members who are currently employed as a GSI or GSSA, so consider paying solidarity dues! Many of the benefits from the strong contract GEO has negotiated over the years still apply (for example, GSRA’s have the same medical benefits as GSI’s and GSSA’s do). You can sign up to contribute here.

Have you contributed solidarity dues before? Why not let us know through our Solidarity Dues & Membership Campaign? We’ll be happy to use your testimonial to show other members why they should continue to support GEO even in terms when they are not employed as a GSI or GSSA.


Lakeshore Apartments Fire Relief

Donate to the GoFundMe here.

In the early morning of October 31st, 2020, there was a major fire at the Lakeshore Apartments complex in Ypsilanti. Thankfully, all people and most pets were safely evacuated. However, many homes have been completely destroyed and many families are currently displaced.

As families continue to cope with this loss and assess their needs over the next several weeks and months, the best way we can help is through financial donations, which will be distributed directly to the affected residents to use toward their own specific needs as they work to replace what they have lost. Thank you all in advance!


Connect the Camps Fundraiser

Working in partnership with the Southeast Michigan Migrant Resource Council (SEMMRC), Washtenaw Solidarity with Farmworkers (WSF) is working to fundraise enough money to install Internet infrastructure at three migrant camps and to pay the monthly costs of internet services at five migrant camps (the three camps mentioned previously plus two others the SEMMRC has already provided Internet for).

Donate Here to Support this Project: bit.ly/connect_the_camps

More Information:

Farmworkers are an integral part of our food system, with skills and knowledge that uniquely suit them to fill a niche necessary for getting people’s food on the table. Yet they are often denied the respect that should come with their essential role, instead facing indifference and sometimes even mistreatment. These “guest workers” deserve better.

During these complicated times, we have all learned that internet access is fundamental to remaining connected with our support systems. Working hundreds of miles away from their families to provide food for our tables, we believe that farmworkers should have access to this fundamental service as well.

This will result in supplying approximately 300-350 migrant workers with the means to:

  • Have contact with their family members!
  • Take advantage of telehealth appointments for health, prescriptions
  • Participate in online training
  • Improve English language skills
  • And other important opportunities

Washtenaw Solidarity with Farmworkers (WSF) is a group based in Washtenaw County which acts in support of farmworkers in Michigan, provides resources where possible, and educates interested parties about the farmworker community, both historically and present day. WSF came together to organize in support of the national Coalition of Immokalee Worker campaigns and has since expanded to support organizing local farmworker initiatives in Southeast Michigan.

In solidarity,

Washtenaw Solidarity with Farmworkers


Memorial Caravan for Prisoner Lives, Lansing (12/12 @ 12pm)

Full details at Facebook event.

Friends, family members, and supporters of prisoners held in Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) cages will hold a mass funeral for the 86 people who have died of COVID-19 behind bars since March to draw attention to the MDOC’s callous and lethal response to the novel coronavirus.

As of December 1, 2020, there have been over twelve thousand positive cases and 88 reported deaths throughout Michigan prisons. It is nearly certain that the actual number of COVID deaths is higher, since the official numbers reflect a .7% death rate, lower than any other known population sample. Currently, multiple prison facilities–Marquette, Egeler, parts of Chippewa, and Central Michigan, among others–are on lockdown due to outbreaks.

[Quick details:]

? Wear black

? Decorate your car, bring signs or images of your incarcerated loved one(s).

? Meet in Macs Bar parking lot (2700 E Michigan Ave, Lansing)

? Wear masks and practice social distancing when not in vehicle


Pull Over Prevention December Clinic (12/12 @ 12pm)Pull Over Prevention Page and December Event.

Interactions with the police can mean the difference between life and death for many folks, especially folks who are minoritized and racialized. Vehicle maintenance increases your chance of avoiding these interactions, but can be a nuisance or expensive. But this event provides vehicle maintenance – and so much more! – for FREE.

The organizers repair brake lights, head lights, tail lights, and turn signals. They also can check and refill tires and other fluids. Other maintenance, if possible, can also be offered, and they will have trained mechanics available for consultations. They may not be able to service every car or issue, but they will try their best.

There will be free food, childcare, and information about community resources.

This event is entirely FREE and VOLUNTEER-RUN. If you would like to donate to support this event and future Pull Over Prevention Clinics, you can send a donation via PayPal to mutualaidnetworkypsi@gmail.com. Please specify that the donation is for the Pull Over Prevention Clinic and send it as ‘friends and family’ so no fees are charged.

ACCESS INFORMATION:

Mechanic service will be set up on a flat parking lot with plenty of space available between cars if necessary. Tables for other activities/resources will also be set up on an accessible, flat surface. Restroom access TBA.


Ann Arbor Tenants’ Union Visioning Meeting for 2021 (12/13 @ 6pm)

Is your rent too high? Is your landlord a scumbag? Do you want to protect your neighbors and your community? The Ann Arbor Tenants Union is having an introductory meeting this Sunday, December 13 at 6-8pm, via Zoom to plan for our strategy in the coming year.

If you are a renter in Washtenaw County interested in getting involved with AATU, please mark your calendar for this meeting, it’s a great moment to join!

RSVP here: https://forms.gle/m3uWKoqR4GrzRijg9

Facebook event: https://fb.me/e/VphWN8eu


Feminist Caucus Special Conference Update

On November 16th, members of the Feminist Caucus held their first special conference with representatives from HR, OIE, and SAPAC as the Joint Committee on a Workplace Free of Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct. This meeting kicked off discussion on the three major issues that last year’s contract failed to address: sexual misconduct during fieldwork, inconsistencies and weaknesses within sexual misconduct trainings, and OIE’s incompetent handling of sexual misconduct allegations. Feminist Caucus is optimistic about the possibilities for concrete change in the wake of this conversation — please contact them if you’d like to know more or get involved (feministchair@geo3550.org)!

Feminist Caucus would also like to acknowledge a huge debt of gratitude to the 118 members that responded to their member-wide survey. 118 is both a depressing number–too many people affected by sexual harassment and misconduct on this campus–and an inspiring one–so many people who care enough to share their stories and advocate for change. Thanks to you, FC was able to share compelling data at the special conference that affirms graduate workers need better sexual misconduct policies and trainings.


Disability Caucus Joint Committee Update

GEO’s Disability Caucus held its first Joint Committee with UM on the topic of disability accommodations. While UM has yet to make substantial changes in the accommodations process in light of the Rackham Report on disability accommodations, we’re hopeful that they will do so in the coming term. In the meantime, we will be focusing on department-level education around disability accommodations, for both members and administration. If you’re interested in getting involved, please email disabilitycaucus@geo3550.org! If you or someone you know needs employment or academic accommodations, you can find instructions here (note that SSD has a new electronic intake form which is less of a burden and does not require documentation for an initial consultation). We encourage anyone who might need employment accommodations next semester to apply for them early, and to please reach out to us if they have any questions about the process or potential accommodations. If you think you might benefit from an accommodation, but are unsure of what possible accommodations look like, we recommend browsing this database for ideas.


BIPOC Caucus Call for Members

We would like to announce the creation of the BIPOC Caucus and put out a call for members. To get involved, email BIPOCchair@geo3550.org

The Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Caucus is a space for thinking through and organizing around the intersections of race and labor. The necessity for this caucus became most clear in the time leading up to and during the GEO strike. During this time, GEO made outward and undeniably earnest commitments to fighting for racial justice, but failed to center the voices and needs of people of color in the articulation of their demands.

The seeds for this caucus were planted by the efforts of a handful of grad students of color who worked tirelessly during the last days of the strike to create actionable demands that followed through on GEO’s commitments to racial justice and incorporated the asks and needs of the undergraduate Students of Color Liberation Front (SoC LF).

The BIPOC Caucus exists to amplify the voices of people of color within this union and in the larger University of Michigan community, including but not limited to the voices of undergraduates and staff.


Join Comms!

Are you looking for a way to get more involved with GEO? Do you have a knack for talking to press, writing public-facing content (like this newsletter!) and op-eds, social media promotion, and/ or photo and video editing? Then Comms is the committee for you!


The Communications Committee is always welcoming new members. If you’d like to join us, send us an email at commchair@geo3550.org.

You can contact other committee chairs about joining their committees if you are interested!: https://www.geo3550.org/about/contact/


Swag Survey

We know you loved your GEO face masks. We are now looking into creating more GEO merch for Winter 2021, and we need your help! Fill out our survey/design contest form at http://bit.ly/SwagSurveyGEO to let us know what types of merch you’d like to see and what the merch should say on it. You can even submit a design that we’ll consider using for the final product! If your design is selected, we will award you with a gift card to use at a local business. The survey will be open until the start of next semester, so get your design caps on and let us know what awesome GEO swag you need for next semester.


Strike Research Survey, Seeking GEO Participants

Dr. Jacob A. Bennett is researching how graduate student employees describe their experiences of dignity in the action of striking and is seeking survey participants from GEO members. It is a short demographic survey with an option to indicate interest in participating in follow-up interviews. This research is IRB approved (University of New Hampshire), and the survey questions have been reviewed by GEO leadership to ensure anonymity. The survey can be found here and the electronic consent form for the interview component (detailing risks/benefits, privacy, and methodology) can be found here. Dr. Bennett is not affiliated with the University of Michigan.


UM Epidemiology COVID-19 Immunity Study

Are you working on campus at least 2 days a week? Consider enrolling in this Immunity study from the School of Public Health. If selected, you will receive antibody testing, and repeated viral testing if you develop symptoms. To get involved, contact IASOstudy@med.umich.edu

Are you a University of Michigan employee interested in COVID-19 research? We're looking for University of Michigan employees who regularly interact with other employees, patients, students, and or the general public to investigate immunity from SARS-CoV-2. Participants will receive COVID-19 monitoring for duration of the study. All study related interventions are covered by the IASO study. All surveys will be conducted remotely. Blood samples can be taken at any University of Michigan blood draw station. Interested? Email: IASOstudy@med.umich.edu

Interactive U-M GEO Strike Timeline

Check out this awesome interactive timeline chronicling GEO’s organizing through 2020!

Petition Against AFT Raid on Michigan Medicine Nurses

The following statement and petition were approved by GEO’s Stewards Council at a meeting on the evening of December 2nd, 2020.

Sign the petition at bit.ly/NoAFTRaid!

We are members of the American Federation of Teachers. We are disappointed and alarmed to learn that our parent union is attempting to raid the Michigan Nurses Association by urging the University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council at Michigan Medicine (UMPNC) to decertify. Instead of putting more resources into organizing the thousands of unorganized workers at the University of Michigan or increasing support for AFT locals on campus, AFT is attempting to steal another union’s members, breaking the bonds of labor solidarity. By encouraging UMPNC members to decertify from Michigan Nurses Association in order to join American Federation of Teachers, AFT is damaging on-campus labor relations, demoralizing Michigan Medicine nurses, and empowering the employer in the midst of a pandemic that has already taken so much from medical workers. It is unconscionable.

Nurses and their unions have borne the brunt of the pandemic. They have faced immense personal risk from the disease, with countless falling ill and far too many perishing alongside the patients they heroically care for. In addition, they have faced attacks from their employer who has used this pandemic to cut labor costs and weaken hard won protections achieved through collective action. UMPNC’s focus should be fighting for safe working conditions and a fair contract for members- not responding to AFT’s raid attempt.

Fundamentally, as members of the labor movement, we believe our foundational mission is to organize the unorganized. That is what Graduate Employees Organization AFT Local 3550 tried to do during our campaign to organize Graduate Student Research Assistants in 2011, and what AFT-Michigan successfully did recently by organizing physician assistants at U-M.[1][2]. The Michigan Nurses Association has done this all across the state, including winning a landmark first contract last year at Munson Medical Center[3]. Expending time, energy and money fighting amongst ourselves over already organized workers only serves to sap our strength, damage our solidarity, and open up divisions that bosses and employers can exploit.

AFT’s move to break UMPNC away from MNA has polarized local labor coalitions and threatens to undermine years of work invested in building cross-campus labor solidarity. This serves to strengthen the hand of our common employer, already operating in shock-doctrine fashion through the pandemic and ensuing financial disruptions. On a statewide level, this raid divides nurses against each other and weakens nurses’ collective power.

Workplace struggles, strikes, and the results of the recent election give the labor movement new opportunities to use our power to meaningfully improve the lives of millions of workers to expand and strengthen worker power across the country. We should not squander this moment by wasting precious resources fighting a self-defeating battle amongst ourselves.

As AFT members, we oppose the use of our union dues and resources to raid another union. We call on leadership in the American Federation of Teachers, including National AFT President Randi Weingarten and Michigan AFT President David Hecker to cease this raid and recommit AFT to principles of labor solidarity.