- Gender-Inclusive Restrooms
- Accommodations for Lactation
- Access to Materials and Resources
- Health & Safety
- Student Grades
- Class Size
- Employee Training
- Protections against Sexual Misconduct, Harassment, and Discrimination
- Hours (including hours tracking resources)
If you prefer to use a gender-inclusive restroom, you may request that your worksite (ie. classroom, or in some cases desk/office) be located near a gender-inclusive restroom. Proof of gender identity is not required to make this request. Making a request does not guarantee that it will be granted and, whether granted or denied, the decision cannot be taken through the grievance procedure.
Accommodations for Lactation
If you need a space to breastfeed or breast pump, you have access to any such existing spaces for faculty or staff. A map and rating of these spaces can be found on the Work/Life Resource Center website. If no such space exists within reasonable proximity of your worksite, your department must make an effort to designate a temporary space for these purposes.
Materials & Resources
If the course you are teaching requires you to have materials, like a textbook or other instructional equipment, these should be provided to you by the department at no charge. Your hiring department is also required to provide any resources needed to fulfill your duties, including office equipment necessary for duplicating and collating, access to a computer and printer, desk and work surface, mailbox, office supplies, and office space if office hours are required. You should have the same access to your GSI office as any professor or staff in the department.
If you are working remotely, your department is still responsible for providing you with the materials and resources you need to fulfill your duties. While the extent to which this extends is unclear, there are materials and resources that you should be provided with as needed (for example, if you do not have a computer on which to record lectures, host virtual office hours, answer emails, and grade assignments it is reasonable to expect that your department provides you with one; it is less likely that the department will pay for your internet service). If you need a specific piece of equipment from campus, you can follow this procedure (and fill out this form) to request the use of said equipment at your remote work location.
Some materials/resources that we may be able to argue are necessary for you to work remotely include (but are not limited to):
Tablet & stylus
Certain software programs
If you need something to successfully teach your course and your department isn’t providing it to you, let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will see what we can do to change that.
Health & Safety
The GEO contract stipulates that no employee will be required to act, nor will act, in any manner which might constitute a health or safety hazard in their employment relationship. As discussions around remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic unfold, what exactly constitutes a health or safety hazard remains dubious. See our COVID-19 page for more information regarding on-campus health and safety precautions and policies.
Your department must contact you before any changes are made to any student’s final grades. If any changes are to be made, your department must provide reasons for the proposed grade changes. If your department attempts to contact you but you cannot be reached, they must send you written notification of the grade changes as soon as possible.
Your hiring department will have a class size policy that should include the maximum number of students allowed per section and the maximum ratio of students to GSIs. You cannot be required to accept students above the maximum class or section size. You have the right to request this policy at any time. You also have the right to request that your chair (or his/her designee) arrange a meeting with interested employees to discuss this policy once every Fall and Winter semesters. If you discover that your department does not have a class size policy that includes both the maximum number of students per section and the maximum ratio of students to GSIs, you can (and should) request that a meeting take place at which you discuss and establish such a policy.
Your department is required to provide employee training so you can be adequately prepared to fulfill your duties. As part of this training, you will likely be required to attend the GSI Orientation administered by the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, held at the start of each term. Many departments also require a 1-credit hour training course, typically taken the first semester in which you teach. These training courses should not be used for instructional meetings with your faculty supervisor to plan the week’s lessons.
If you are employed at a fraction greater than or equal to .25, any training you are required to attend must be reflected in pay at the hourly equivalent of your rate, included in your fraction calculation, or counted as academic credit for your program. If you are employed at a fraction less than .25, any training you are required to attend must be reflected in pay at the hourly equivalent of your rate or included in your fraction calculation.
Sexual Misconduct Protections
In 2020, GEO won several significant protections against discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct. The deadline for reporting a harassment or misconduct grievance was extended from 40 to 180 days after the union’s reasonable knowledge of the situation. This change allows harassment and misconduct grievants who may be uncomfortable coming forward more time to consider their options, and more time to escape an abusive situation before undertaking a formal investigation. The 2020 contract also includes a new Anti-Discrimination Statement and substantively updated anti-discrimination language throughout (notably: acknowledging that discrimination may occur on or off campus, and including behavior that creates a “hostile work environment” for the Employee even if it does not occur directly in the context of their employment).
In addition, MOU XII creates a Joint Committee on a Workplace Free from Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct. This committee, made up of three GEO representatives and three University representatives, is projected to meet twice per academic year for the duration of the contract. The committee was designed to address issues that could not yet be enshrined in contract language, and its agenda items include discrimination during field experiences, access to gender-inclusive restrooms, and the Office of Institutional Equity’s inadequate investigatory process for harassment and misconduct cases.
GEO is committed to helping survivors of harassment, misconduct, and discrimination and we encourage you to get in touch with us for support/resources. We can help you navigate the OIE process and you are also able to file a complaint through the Union grievance procedures. You have the option of pursuing several avenues of recourse in instances of discrimination or harassment:
- The Grievance Procedure outlined in the contract between GEO and the University
- The procedures administered by the University and its Office of Institutional Equity (OIE)
- State and federal offices that handle complaints about discrimination
Whether you are going through our grievance process, state and federal processes, or the OIE process, a Union representative can provide experience, support, and help as you navigate complex systems.
The Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC) has a useful list of resources for survivors.
How Appointments Work: Graduate Student jobs at UM are referred to as “appointments.” Your pay and weekly work expectation are set by your “appointment fraction,” which is also sometimes referred to as your Full Time Equivalency (FTE). All fractions (0.5, 0.3, etc) are an estimate of the average number of hours you are expected to work each week. Below is a chart of the various appointment fractions along with the hours expectation per week.
|Average Weekly Work Expectation||Employment Fraction|
|Up to 3.49||0.087|
|3.5 to 5.49||0.137|
|5.5 to 7.49||0.187|
|7.5 to 9.49||0.237|
|9.5 to 12.49||0.25|
|12.5 to 14.49||0.3|
|14.5 to 16.49||0.35|
|16.5 to 20.00||0.5|
|20.01 to 25.49||0.6|
|25.5 to 30.49||0.65|
|30.5 to 35.49||0.75|
|35.5 or more||1|
There is a range of weekly hours associated with your fraction. Anything above that range is most likely overwork and shouldn’t be happening, especially if it happens more than just once in a semester. Although there are sometimes fluctuations in how much you work in a given week, you should not be consistently working more hours than the upper number of the range for your fraction. For a 0.5 fraction, this means you should not be working more than 20 hours a week on a regular basis. Because our weekly work hours are averaged over the whole employment period (which is longer than the number of weeks classes are in session), people are often told that “the average will even it all out in the end”. This is not usually the case! Even a few hours over each week at the beginning of the semester (for a 0.5 fraction) can be a problem, and the margin is even smaller for lower fractions.
Fraction Calculation Worksheet: Each department is required to provide every GSI and GSSA with a “Fraction Calculation Worksheet.” This document outlines the tasks that the GSI is expected to perform and includes an estimate of how much time each task will take. When you receive a fraction calculation worksheet you should review it and confirm that all of the time estimates sound reasonable. Your supervisor will need to sign off on the sheet to confirm that the estimates are appropriate for the appointment. We recommend you review the fraction calculation form with your supervisor and discuss the layout of the syllabus to address any issues as soon as possible. You can download a blank Fraction Calculation Worksheet here to get a better idea of what it looks like and to make your own estimates for your appointment.
Hours Tracking: Because the Fraction Calculation sheet reflects your department’s best guess as to how many hours your appointment will require you to work, the number of hours you actually work may differ. By keeping track of your labor, you can ensure that you are paid for the work you do. Tracking the hours you spend working helps you forestall any issues with overwork before they get out of control, get paid for the amount of work you do, and helps other graduate students by making future courses more manageable to teach. When GSIs consistently work over their hours, they are entitled to have their fraction (and pay) increased, receive back pay, and/or have their workload reduced (such as through course redesign or the hiring of a grader).
What should you be tracking when you’re tracking your hours? Well, your tasks will vary depending on your department and your appointment. But here are some common tasks that also count as part of your job as a GSI, in addition to time spent in the classroom:
- Office hours: If you are expected to be available to your students at a given time, even if no one attends, this counts as work
- Prep time: Include time spent doing readings, preparing quizzes and tests, and lesson planning
- Reading and replying to student emails
- Attending lectures: If your professor requires that you attend lectures in addition to your own section, be sure to include this time
- Meeting with the course coordinator or professor
- Extra meetings with students (even if it’s just five minutes in the hall after class)
- Running review sessions
- Proctoring exams and tests
- Setting up and cleaning up after labs
Your job may not involve all these things, or it may include many others. If you take careful note for a few weeks of all the tasks you do for your GSI position, logging your hours will become much easier. A good rule of thumb is that you can track any work you do for your job that you wouldn’t do if you were not a GSI.
Here are some resources to help you track your hours. Don’t forget to count preparation work before the semester — it counts!
Phone app: aTimeLogger app for iOS and Android
Use the app as a timer as you work, or add in your hours after the fact. Program the following categories as “activities” to track time spent on each category separately:
You can use the app to create and access reports of the work you’ve done to check how much time you’ve spent on each category in a given time period.
Spreadsheets: hourly format; daily format; weekly format
Save a copy to your Google drive for online tracking, or download to use in Excel. You can keep track of your hours each hour, each day, or each week. These sheets will automatically add up the hours you’ve worked and clearly show your total hours for each week. The daily and weekly formats will calculate your weekly average as well.
Printable PDF: printable pdf
Similar in format to the weekly format Google sheet above, but formatted for easy printing so you can fill in by hand if you prefer to have a hard copy.
Going Over Hours: If you notice yourself working more than your average weekly work hours at any point during the term, GEO can help you start an informal problem-solving discussion with your supervisor and your department to fix the problem – usually through rearranging your work duties to reduce the workload. This is a low-stakes step to resolve the issue and we recommend you do this sooner rather than later – the semester will only get busier and it’s easier to address these issues early on. You can also enter into a formal process called a “grievance” to either reduce your workload or get a pay increase. For more information about grievances and how to start the grievance process, see here. Note that to successfully argue a case of overwork, you must provide evidence that you have exceeded the average weekly expectation. So make sure to track your hours using the resources above!
While it may seem like a scary step to reach out to GEO about overwork, either because you fear upsetting your professor or because it doesn’t seem like a big enough deal, know that you deserve to be paid for your labor. GEO takes all such reports with complete confidentiality and will help you decide on the best path forward for your situation. You can anonymously report problem courses here. These problem-solving steps are the main mechanism that we, as a community, have to change the climate around overwork at UM. Both grievances and informal problem-solving discussions will help future GSIs who won’t have to deal with difficult courses. It is also especially important for your International colleagues who are not able to easily grieve overwork without risking their visa status.
International Students: International GSIs and GSSAs cannot be made to work more than 20 hours per week in any given week, as specified in their F-1 or J-1 visas. For more information about teaching as an international student, see here.
Late-Night Work: If your department holds late night work sessions (eg. grading sessions), you cannot be required to remain and work after 1AM during any group work session. You may be required to finish the work from the work session as soon as possible the next day.
- Article IX: Job Postings, Distribution of Postings, Notification, and Hiring Procedures, Section C. Hiring Procedures
- Article X: Salaries, Section F. Employment Fraction and Section G. Employment Fraction Accountability
- Article XXI: Employee Rights, Section I. Work Hours