GEO Negotiations

View updates from current bargaining sessions.

The relationship between University of Michigan and the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) is one of the oldest among graduate employee unions in the U.S., and we are proud that contracts with GEO rank among the very best in the nation. The university’s bargaining team is guided in negotiations with GEO by core principles. These principles are instrumental in a long history of reaching successful agreements between U-M and the unions represented at the university.  

Guiding Principles

  • We recognize the essential contributions of graduate student instructors and graduate student staff assistants and honor the rights of workers to bargain collectively. 
  • We are committed to bargaining in good faith on all bargainable issues such as wages, hours and working conditions; on issues beyond the scope of contract, the university supports dialogue through other venues.
  • We commit to a collaborative negotiation process that supports creative problem solving and frank discussion, and that fosters dignity and respect for all parties.
  • We see continuity of instruction and support for students as a core university responsibility, one that requires us to consider impacts on our undergraduate students. 

U-M is grateful to have a positive relationship with graduate student instructors, who are valued and vital members of our community as partners to faculty, and teachers and mentors to undergraduates. Past contracts have provided graduate employees with many mutually beneficial agreements, and we are confident that current negotiations will lead to a strong, fair, and forward-looking contract agreement that builds on GEO’s current contract.

Features of the Current GEO Contract

  • Most GSIs are appointed at 50% effort, which is the equivalent of 16-20 hours per week
  • Total pay for two, four-month semesters at 50% effort: $24,050 (equivalent to $72,155.20 full time annual pay)
  • Tuition waiver: Up to $12,947 per semester for in-state students, up to $26,062 per semester for out-of-state students
  • Childcare subsidy for student parents, per semester:
    • $3,043 for one child
    • $5,029 for two children
    • $6,631 for three or more children
  • Comprehensive health insurance: no monthly premium

Key Features of Past GEO Contracts


The most recent  three-year contracts between U-M and GEO resulted in consistent wage increases for GSIs and GSSAs. 

  • For 2008-2011, the parties agreed to a 9% salary increase over the life of the contract.

  • For 2011-2014, the parties agreed to 8.5% increases. 
  • For 2013-2017, the parties agreed to an 8% increase at the Ann Arbor and Dearborn campuses. Flint gained a new minimum in the initial year of the contract followed by 6% increases over the following three years. 
  • For 2017-2020, the parties agreed to 10% increases for all three campuses.
  • In the current contract, negotiated in spring of 2020, GEO received increases of 3% in 2020, 3.4% in 2021, and 3.7% in 2022, totaling 10.1% over the life of the contract.  

International Graduate Student Instructors (IGSI)

  • 2005: The $350 fee for the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVIS) was included in the contract as reimbursable for GSIs and GSSAs who requested it within the first four terms of employment. 

  • 2017: The parties agreed to language that prohibits the university from assigning more than 20 hours of work per week for IGSIs, in support of certain visa limitations. 

Healthcare Benefits

  • 2005: With the passage of Michigan Proposal 02-04, the Board of Regents passed the 2005 Same Sex Domestic Partner policies. The health care benefits package expanded to  include benefits for same-sex partners. 
  • 2005: Implemented dental benefits at no cost to all employees, which included all appointment fractions. When national dental premiums averaged $300 a year, this benefit  had a significant impact for GEO’s membership.  
  • 2012: All employees, regardless of appointment fraction, were made eligible to enroll in health insurance.
  • 2017: Language was added to cap mental health co-payments to $700, which cut copays in half for those receiving weekly mental health treatment.  
  • 2020: The mental health co-payment cap requirement decreased from $700 to $500. Additionally, language was added to provide GSIs and GSSAs with six weeks of paid medical leave.

Childcare Subsidy and Parental Leave

  • 2002: Participation in the childcare subsidy was added for all bargaining unit members, helping to make childcare more affordable. 
  • 2008: Paid parental leave was added, providing bargaining unit members three weeks of paid leave.
  • 2017: Paid parental leave was expanded to a total of eight weeks, giving bargaining unit members the benefit of three weeks paid parental leave and five weeks of paid medical.
  • 2020: Paid parental leave increased from the previous year’s contract. Bargaining unit members received six weeks of paid parental leave.

Transgender Healthcare Benefits

  • Early 2000s: Transgender healthcare is included in the agreement for the first time. Making progress with LGBT rights and in an effort to attract the best talent, the university and the union agreed upon health care benefits for gender affirming care.  
  • 2017: The parties meet in “Special Conferences” for any number of issues that concern the union and the agreement. Dedicating Special Conferences for gender affirming care is  another way to help address concerns.  
  • 2019: In a special conference, coverage for facial feminization, Adam's apple reduction, and facial hair removal were added to health benefits coverage for transgender health care. Surgeries addressing gender dysphoria were relabeled as medically necessary.  
  • 2020: 15 sessions of speech-language therapy are covered annually for transgender care.