U of M graduate employees go on strike, higher pay a key demand
Striking graduate students waved signs and chanted as they crossed the Ann Arbor campus Wednesday.
The university’s graduate employees perform numerous academic jobs on the Ann Arbor campus. Members of the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) walked off those jobs Wednesday morning.
The union and the university are at odds over several contract issues.
The GEO’s main demand is a big pay increase. Graduate employees on the Ann Arbor campus make roughly $24,000 a year. The union wants the average wage increased to closer to $38,000. Union leaders say that would be a “living wage” in Ann Arbor. U of M is offering a smaller pay hike.
“We care about our students, and we want to do that work,” Jared Eno, president of the Graduate Employees Organization told hundreds of grad students who rallied on the university Diag Wednesday, “But we can’t do it if we’re worrying about whether we’ll be able to afford our rent or food to eat.”
University President Santa Ono issued a statement before the walkout which read, in part, “a strike would needlessly hurt undergraduate students.”
The university has said classes on the Ann Arbor campus will go on as scheduled. A university spokesman said the strike violates the current union contract that remains in place until May 1.
Both the university and the union have filed unfair labor practice charges against each other with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission.