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University of Michigan graduate instructors vote to authorize strike

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Posted at 2:10 PM, Sep 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-07 19:53:49-04

(WXYZ) — University of Michigan graduate student instructors and graduate student assistants voted to authorize a strike on Tuesday.

Members of the Graduate Employee Organization announced a four-day work stoppage due to concerns over risks posed by campus reopening.

GEO says it has been organizing through the summer around a set of demands, which were presented in an open letter to university administration.

GEO says administration issued an "insubstantial" reply in response. It has also called on faculty to cancel regular classes for the duration of the strikes.

The university issued the following statement in regards to the strike:

The state of Michigan prohibits public employees from striking. GEO’s contract with U-M also prohibits the union and GSIs and GSSAs from taking part in any action against or interference with the operations of the university, such as failing to report for duty or the failure to perform their employment duties.

A strike by GEO violates the GEO contract and violates state law.

Separately, GEO has raised a number of issues that cannot be resolved as a matter of their contract or through a collective bargaining procedure.

The university is preparing to continue operations, including classes, in the event of a strike.

The following demands were outlined in the letter:

  • Transparent and robust testing, contact tracing, and safety plans for campus;
  • Support for GSIs working remotely and an option to switch to remote from hybrid/ in-person;
  • Flexible subsidies for parents and caregivers including those with school-aged children or care obligations for adults;
  • Better International Center support for international students and the repealing of the discriminatory, termly international student fee;
  • Unconditional support for all graduate students in the form of timeline and funding extensions, an emergency grant, and flexible leases and rent freezes at U-M housing.
  • A demilitarized workplace
  • Diversion of funds from campus police (involving a cut of 50% to DPSS’ annual budget)

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