GEO Union Ratifies Contract

Here are the details of what was secured.

Graduate Employees' Organization (GEO) GEO represents graduate student instructors (GSIs) and graduate student staff assistants (GSSAs) at the University of Michigan.

On April 10, GEO (Graduate Employees Organization) union members crowded into the Michigan League Ballroom and voted to approve a tentative agreement with the University of Michigan. The agreement was ratified by their membership by a large margin.

Here are the highlights of what they won:

Raises of 3.35%, 3.35%, and 3.3% over the next three years for GSIs and GSSAs in Ann Arbor and Dearborn. This is higher than the raises other UM unions have been able to secure and non-unionized staff have been on a wage freeze.

Raises of 4.8%, 3.35%, 3.3% over the next three years for GSIs and GSSAs in Flint
6 GSSA positions, contractually guaranteed, for grad students doing DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) implementation work (after months of the university’s blanket refusal to discuss this topic)

A hard weekly work hour cap for international GSIs, corresponding anti-discrimination language, and ability to bring preemptive grievances for fraction adjustment

A yearly cap on Mental Health Co-pays of $700 for individuals and $1,400 for families. Co-pay caps are unprecedented in University of Michigan contracts; this is the first of its kind.

2 more weeks of paid parental leave for birthing parents (an increase from 3 to 5 weeks)

3 weeks of paid parental leave for non-birthing parents (an increase from 0)

Parental leave that can be continued from the end of Fall term into Winter term

An additional 2 days of bereavement leave for extenuating circumstances (e.g. travel)
Gradcare for GSIs in Flint

A Special Conference among GEO members, Rackham, Financial Aid, and the Office of Financial Operations to improve accessibility and transparency for childcare subsidies

A Special Conference and review process of the University’s Trans Healthcare benefits
Union security measures that will protect GEO in the face of “Right to Work” legislation

While they did not secure everything they requested, they made significant gains in many areas and were able to develop important steps for continued movement for the university.

According to GEO President, John Ware, “these contract gains came about because GEO members got involved, got organized, and turned out. Thank you to everyone who showed up at meetings, our office, bargaining sessions, and especially thank you to those who signed up for picketing shifts. The credible threat of a walkout made these gains possible.”