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Graduate Employees' Organization and UM sign tentative agreement after months-long strike

A rally of grad students on a rainy day on U of M's campus. Several people stand in the front, facing the crowd with a sign that reads "U-M Works Because We Do, GEO"
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Union members will vote on ratifying the three-year contract by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, August 24.

After a historic months-long strike, the leaders of the Graduate Employees' Organization signed a tentative agreement Tuesday with the University of Michigan.

Amir Fleischmann is a spokesperson for the GEO. He said under the new contract, Ann Arbor grad student workers will receive a 20% pay increase over the next three years.

"We also won new harassment protections for all graduate students and new benefits for parents, international workers, and transgender grad students," he said.

U of M outlinedthe details of the agreement:

The agreement includes the following provisions for GSIs and GSSAs in a contract spanning three years:

  • Annual salary increases of 8% in 2023, 6% in 2024 and 6% in 2025 for Ann Arbor campus employees (20% over three years).
  • Annual salary increases of 3.5% for Dearborn campus employees (10.5% over three years).
  • Annual salary increases of about 9% for Flint campus employees to align its minimum stipend to that of UM-Dearborn at the end of the contract term.
  • A $1,000 bonus to employees on all campuses.
  • Up to 12 weeks of paid leave for employees who are birthing parents.
  • Lower annual out-of-pocket maximums on mental health and physical therapy copays.
  • Expanded gender-affirming benefits.
  • The creation of special conferences between GEO leaders and university officials to discuss gender-affirming care and benefits.
  • The creation of multi-meeting special conferences on disability accommodations and concerns about campus infrastructure and resources available to persons with disabilities.
  • The creation of a three-year pilot program, providing up to one semester of funding for an employee to transition out of an unhealthy working relationship, including an abusive, discriminatory and/or harassing relationship. The pilot program does not require the employee to report the situation to U-M’s Equity, Civil Rights, and Title IX Office, a sticking point that union leaders have continually identified as a priority in bargaining.
  • The creation of a $20,000 per year International Graduate Workers Assistance Fund. 
  • New requirements for academic units to publish GSI class-size policies.
  • The creation of a dedicated GSI/GSSA employment website.

Union members will vote on ratifying the three-year contract by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, August 24.

“We are extremely pleased that GEO members have voted to sign a tentative contract agreement with the university and move this matter forward for ratification,” university spokesperson Kim Broekhuizen said in a statement.

U of M spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald said the timing of the union vote is critically important.

"We're hopeful that we'll have a ratified contract in place ahead of the start of classes next week," he said.

Editor's note: The University of Michigan holds Michigan Radio's license.

Caoilinn Goss
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