Update Posted 4/14/17
New contract reached
Members of GEO 3550 voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new three-year contract that takes effect May 1, 2017.
Update Posted 4/11/17
Ratification vote to be held
The university and GEO reached a tentative agreement on April 10. The package will now go to the general membership of GEO for a ratification vote.
Update Posted 4/8/17
Some tentative agreements reached
The university and GEO met in negotiations Friday until 11 p.m. The parties were able to sign several tentative agreements, significantly reducing the number of issues still under discussion. At the end of the evening the university presented a comprehensive proposal covering all remaining issues. The GEO bargaining team said they would review the proposal over the weekend. Negotiations resume Monday morning.
Update Posted 4/7/2017
Although negotiations continue, gaps in progress on several important issues remain. The university is confident that continued discussion will result in a mutually beneficial agreement.
Wages and compensation
While the university is offering increases each contract year that exceed the 2 percent-per-year average received by university staff for the past several years, GEO seeks increases that are up to three times that average, so wages remain an important bargaining issue for both parties. Currently, the University of Michigan’s compensation package for graduate student employees is at or near the top when compared to other major public research universities. Compensation for half-time graduate employees includes wages, full graduate tuition waiver, comprehensive health care coverage with no contribution to premiums, leave time for parental accommodation, child care subsidies and bereavement leave time.
Support for international students
Most graduate students average 20 hours of work per week with fluctuation in hours up or down as required for peak times in grading, research or other critical academic functions. For graduate students with visa requirements restricting hours to 20 each week, the university has proposed contract language and communications to supervisors to support the visa requirement. The university deeply values the perspectives and the academic outcomes from a diverse student body and wants full compliance with visa requirements while maintaining enough overall flexibility on general work hours of graduate student employees without visa restrictions to accomplish grading, research and other important academic work during peak times.
While full-time campus staff accrue sick time that can be used for recovery from birth, graduate student employees have negotiated benefits for parental accommodation and an increase to this time has been proposed by the university. A special conference also has been offered by the university to examine the administration and funding of child care stipends.
Creation of new graduate employee positions
The union has proposed the creation of 23 new GEO positions with full benefits to conduct diversity-related work for the university. The university has established a task force consisting of graduate students and diversity implementation staff to address this important issue of the role of graduate students in diversity work at U-M. This issue is outside the scope of the GEO contract.
Update Posted 3/22/2017
The university’s current proposal for a new, three-year agreement includes:
- Wage increases each year
- GradCare health coverage for the student and family with no contribution to the monthly premiums
- Increased leave time for parental accommodation
- Increased leave time for bereavement
- Increased protections for International Graduate Student Instructors (IGSIs) to comply with work restrictions required to maintain their visa status