The University of Michigan Alumni Organization (GEO) went on strike March 29 after five months of negotiations, The Detroit News reported.
A GEO rally was held on campus Wednesday morning, attended by hundreds of students, undergraduates and alumni. GEO represents approximately 2,300 graduate student instructors and staff assistants.
The current contract expires on May 1. Union demands include base salaries of $38,542; protection against harassment; an emergency fund for international workers; a community-based, nonviolent, unarmed response program separate from the Division of Public Safety; child care subsidies; and more accessible gender-affirming care.
“There are still barriers between them (transgender students) and getting that care,” Fleischmann said. “So there’s really difficult documentation to submit that you wouldn’t have to submit for any other types of health care, and session limits for voice therapy and things like that that we’re trying to get.” get rid of.”
Union officials asked students not to cross picket lines during classes or do work that someone on strike would do. Still, many students seemed to attend classes.
“We’re going to be here every weekday until we get what we deserve,” said Ember McCoy, a graduate student in the School of Environment and Sustainability. “We alumni, the second largest body of instructors after faculty, cannot afford rent, medical bills, groceries, a $500 emergency room, or a ride home.”
UMich spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the school filed unfair labor practice charges against GEO with the Michigan Labor Relations Commission to stop the strike.
The strike is in violation of GEO’s current contract and Michigan law that prohibits public employees from striking, Fitzgerald said, which GEO recognizes.
“We strongly believe that the best place to resolve differences is at the negotiating table,” Fitzgerald said in an email. “Our focus remains on resuming instruction for our students and reaching an agreement with GEO through the negotiation process. The next negotiation session is scheduled for Friday and the university remains prepared to meet at any time.”
GEO also filed unfair labor practice charges against UMich because the school refused to negotiate on required courses and withheld crucial information, graduate student Amir Fleischmann said.