U-M and GEO negotiators met for the thirty-first bargaining session. The parties met for approximately six hours.
The university provided proposals on employee training and employees with disabilities and raised questions on GEO’s class size article.
Employee Training: The university agreed to distribute an email about the process for ADA accommodations once per semester to GSIs and GSSAs. U-M also agreed to post guidance on accommodations on the school and college internal website.
Employees with Disabilities: The university again rejected GEO’s proposal that would allow indefinite accommodations without any documentation.
Class Size: The university suggested a special conference to reach agreement on the union’s proposal in the class size article that would limit combined appointments. The university maintains that GEO’s proposal would impact the ability of schools and colleges to manage GSI appointments.
The union passed back counter proposals on salary, benefits, childcare, leaves, tuition waiver, transgender health, healthcare, IGSI funds, covid health and safety, mental health co-pays, ADHD, transitional funding, unarmed non-police response, and immigration protections. There was no substantial movement in any of their counter proposals.
There are two important notes on the compensation and unarmed non-police response proposals:
- On compensation, the union continues to propose a model that includes summer bonus payments that are accrued during the fall and winter semesters that would total $38,537 for the year. GEO’s proposal continues to request a 60% wage increase in year one of the contract and does not make any movement on the total cost from GEO’s original proposal.
- The union proposed new language to its unarmed non-police proposal that would require the university to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for an independent, unarmed, non-police urgent response program that would be funded and operated separately from the Division of Public Safety and Security. The proposal includes language that would allow GEO to participate in the RFP process.
University negotiators have provided an open-ended schedule and have requested in-person bargaining sessions. The next sessions are scheduled on May 4 and May 5.
U-M and GEO negotiators met for the thirtieth day of bargaining on April 26, 2023. The parties met for approximately 2.5 hours.
The university presented counter proposals on the benefits and leave articles and a Memorandum of Understanding on policies and procedures for unpaid leaves. The number of outstanding union proposals in both the benefits and leaves articles limits any movement U-M is able to make until the union makes movement.
The union’s counter proposals included class size, employee training, and employees with disabilities.
Class Size - The union's latest proposal for class size removes the class size caps it originally proposed. The proposal continues to place restrictions on units around combined appointments. U-M maintains that the union's proposal to make decisions based on individual needs is not feasible due to the uniqueness of the university's schools and colleges.
Employee Training and Employees with Disabilities - The union made movement on the topic of employees with disabilities by removing their proposal to use the central fund for obtaining documents for an accommodation. The union’s proposal continues to include an ADA process that would allow for temporary accommodations without documentation and no time limit or requirement to obtain documentation. While the union did not make any movement on the employee training article, there have been productive conversations about some of the outstanding issues.
The next bargaining session is scheduled in-person on Friday, April 28, from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Past updates can be found below.
U-M and GEO negotiators met for the twenty-ninth day of bargaining on April 24, 2023.
The parties made some progress, but also stalled on a few outstanding issues.
Progress was made by U-M in the tuition waiver article. The university proposed reducing the percentage that individuals with low-fraction appointments would need to pay in tuition if GEO agreed to withdraw its proposal to significantly change the current employment fractions structure and amounts.
Unfortunately, progress was not made with respect to the IGSI fund. While the university's package proposal from April 21 would create the fund that the union is proposing, it was contingent upon the full package, which included the union withdrawing the proposal for a healthcare fund. The union accepted the university's movement on the IGSI fund but took the proposal out of the package, declining to withdraw the healthcare fund. Because of this, after a caucus, the university passed back its same package from April 21 and reiterated that the movement was contingent on the package as a whole.
The university remains unable to move from its last counter proposal on salary as the union continues to resist any compromise from its original salary proposal made in November.
The parties had productive discussions about several key points, including:
- U-M explained that under GEO’s current proposals, the total cost of the contract remains $32 million in the first year of the three-year collective bargaining agreement.
- Since U-M conveyed in the April 21 session that it would no longer be focusing on several GEO proposals unless the union made substantial movement, GEO suggested potential changes they could make for those issues during this session.
- Extended discussion occurred regarding salary and what U-M would consider substantial movement from GEO’s 60% wage increase in year one of the successor contract. GEO asked U-M specifically if a 30% decrease would be substantial movement. U-M confirmed 30% would be positive movement and encouraged a proposal from GEO.
- Conversation continued about GEO’s reasons for their “living wage” position on salary. U-M again explained that the MIT living wage calculator that GEO relies on for its living wage claim applies for one adult, working 12 months per year, 40 hours per week. The union acknowledged that their proposal factors in what it describes as other academic work they perform. GSIs and GSSAs work as employees for 16-20 hours per week for 8 months out of the year. They are not full-time employees.
The next session is scheduled online on Wednesday, April 26 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
This week the university and GEO negotiated on April 17, 19 and 21 for the twenty-sixth, twenty-seventh, and twenty-eighth bargaining sessions. On April 21, less than half of the union's bargaining team was present at the table and GEO unilaterally decided to end negotiations two hours early.
The Union presented a salary proposal today that is the same total cost as its original proposal, which is still a 60% increase in the first year alone. The compensation proposal presented today does not change the increase of $32 million in the first year, it merely restructured the proposal.
Today, the university’s bargaining team informed GEO that, after 28 negotiation sessions where GEO has made little to no substantive movement on many issues at the table, it has bargained as far as it can regarding multiple GEO demands.
The university remains committed to negotiating a successor collective bargaining agreement with GEO and it will continue to engage productively with the union. When, or if GEO presents substantive counter proposals that indicate its willingness to engage productively, rather than its practice of repeatedly presenting its same proposals and on occasion adding additional conditions, the university will respond accordingly.
Out of the ten proposals where the university has no more room to move, the university has made meaningful offers in all but two of them, including the following:
- Enhancing and increasing the union’s orientation time with employees.
- Publishing class size policies.
- Offering to provide detailed explanation of the process for obtaining accommodations for Employees and students guidelines at the beginning of each semester.
- Offering annual training on ADA accommodation process for units.
- Extending the lower maximums for mental health copays of $500/$1000, which is substantially lower than the $2500/$5000 maximums for other coverages.
- Enhancing transgender health care coverage, including:
- offering laser hair removal without preauthorization,
- offering a special conference during the contract period to address possible coverage issues if gender dysphoria is no longer a diagnosis and;
- increasing speech language therapy sessions from 15 to 60 to align with the change in coverage that had already occurred in our plan.
- Lowering the out of pocket maximums for physical therapy to align with the lowered mental health copays.
In addition, the university has already offered the following:
- The university will initiate a one-year “Transitional Funding Pilot Program” that will provide up to one semester of continued funding when it is determined based on an ECRT report filing that additional funding is needed.
- A $10,000 per year International Graduate Student Fund that would provide up to $500 per year to those who apply for reimbursement of immigration related expenses.
- The university has agreed to cover facial masculinization procedures and augmentation mammoplasty for transgender women.
- The university has nearly doubled its initial wage proposal, from 2% raises in each year of a three-year contract totaling 6% for the Ann Arbor Campus. The university’s current wage proposal for Ann Arbor Campus is now 5% in year one, 3.5% in year two and 3% in year three of the contract, totaling 11.5% for the life of the contract.
The next bargaining session is scheduled for Monday, April 24.
Past updates can be found below.
April 11, 12 and 14
The university and GEO negotiated on April 11, 12, and 14. The parties negotiated for approximately two hours each day on Tuesday, April 11 and Wednesday, April 12. On Friday, April 14, the parties met for approximately 5 hours.
U-M has offered availability for daily, in-person, full-day bargaining sessions with GEO over the next three weeks. GEO has remained noncommittal to additional full-day sessions, opting for online sessions of approximately four hours. A mediator from the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) is now assisting the parties with negotiating agreements.
April 11 - Twenty-Third Bargaining Session
GEO brought counter proposals on union rights, discrimination and harassment. The union offered no compromise on union rights where the one remaining issue is the timing of orientation. The union provided a counter on its Transitional Funding Program, which reverted back to original language of requiring no reporting process and has requested it be a three-year pilot program. GEO proposed withdrawing its other harassment proposals, but only if the university agreed to itsTransitional Funding Program.
The university made counter proposals on transgender health and health and safety. On transgender health, the requirement for preauthorizations for speech therapy is the remaining issue. The university cannot bypass the requirement of medical necessity, as requested by GEO’s proposal. The university passed back its prior proposal on health and safety as GEO has made no change on their proposal, which would allow GEO members to require others to mask, change classes to remote formats if they individually decide there is a health and safety concern, and require air filtration units be installed in every classroom.
April 12 - Twenty-Fourth Bargaining Session
GEO presented counter proposals on benefits, childcare, leaves of absences, reproductive healthcare, IGSI and healthcare funds, and mental health copayments. From these proposals, the parties only made movement on daycare and school closure leave, which allow GSIs to change course modalities in the event of daycare or school closures that affect their children.
The university did not provide counter proposals during the brief session. U-M negotiators asked questions on the union’s counter proposals and are reviewing the four counter proposals submitted by GEO from the previous day’s bargaining session.
April 14 - Twenty-Fifth Bargaining Session
GEO presented unchanged counter proposals on employee training, employees with disabilities, and GSSA position hiring requirements. The union provided a counter proposal on gender-affirming care that included specific medical procedures that the union requests be covered by health benefits.
On compensation, the union did not submit a counter proposal, but instead presented a preliminary proposal (i.e., a “supposal”), which allows them to discuss an idea conceptually, but without commiting to the proposal.
The university made counter proposals on benefits, childcare, paid leaves, reproductive health care, and unpaid leave.
The university is unable to agree to GEO’s proposals that would:
- extend coverage of all transgender health procedures to out-of-network providers with no cost to employees;
- eliminate medical necessity requirements to evaluate medical necessity of care; and
- require Michigan Medicine’s Comprehensive Gender Services Program to change their requirements for care.
GEO’s bargaining team stated that they would be willing to drop those proposals for alternative ideas including a U-M fund of $466,000 per year specifically for transgender GSIs and GSSAs healthcare.
The university continues to maintain that the child care subsidy afforded to graduate students is based on student status and, as such, is not an appropriate bargaining subject. Likewise, the university rejected GEO’s proposal that would create a contractual requirement for Rackham Graduate School to continue benefits for those who take medical and family leave through Rackham. The university continued to maintain that this is a student program and therefore is not appropriate for the collective bargaining agreement.
The next scheduled sessions are on April 17 and April 19 online and in-person on April 21.
April 5, 6 and 7
The university and GEO negotiated on April 5, 6, and 7. The parties negotiated on Wednesday, April 5 for approximately 1.5 hours and on Thursday, April 6 for approximately one hour. On Friday, April 7, the parties met for approximately six hours.
GEO brought counter proposals on class size and employee rights. The union offered no compromise on the class size article, but did make some movement in the employee rights article.
The university made counter proposals on union rights, employee training, and the employees with disabilities articles.
Union Rights - The only remaining issue continues to be the timing of the union’s orientation presentation: before, during a break in, or immediately following the unit’s orientation meeting.
Employee Training - The university has offered another compromise on providing information to GSIs and GSSAs on ADA accommodations, including offering to distribute detailed communications for how to obtain reasonable accommodations. The university has continued to reject GEO’s demand that would require certain training for all GSIs and GSSAs and for faculty members who are not represented by GEO.
Employees with Disabilities - The university continues to offer optional annual training to units on the ADA process, but has rejected GEO’s proposal to expand the central accommodation fund to reimburse employees for obtaining documentation and guaranteed accommodations without documentation.
GEO presented counter proposals on salary, benefits, childcare, tuition waiver, mental health co-pays, health care fund, and IGSI fund. However, it made no substantive changes from their last proposal.
GEO’s compensation proposal again remained unchanged from its November 2022 proposal for a 60% wage increase in year one of the contract.
The university submitted counter proposals on: Transitional Funding Program; Fieldwork Safety; Survey to Prevent Harassment, Discrimination, and Abuse; DEI GSSA Positions; GSSA Staff for Disability Cultural Center; and GSSAs for Accessible Transgender Healthcare.
The university proposed a one-year pilot program for a “transitional funding program” if a GSI or GSSA had cause to change their work environment due to a harassing or discriminating work relationship.
The University presented its compensation proposal from March 24, with a 5% wage increase in year one, 3.5% in year two, and 3% in year three in Ann Arbor and a 2% increase each year of the contract for Flint and Dearborn
GEO did not present any proposals.
The university presented additional proposals other than salary including benefits, childcare, leaves of absence, tuition waiver, class size, employee rights, and memoranda of understanding on abortion and gender affirming care.
The university proposed the following:
- Expansion of parental accommodation leave to 12 weeks
- Expansion of GradCare benefits to cover augmentation mammoplasty (implants) for transgender women and facial masculinization under the current medical policy for gender affirming care
- Expansion of the immigration fee reimbursement to include the "machine readable" visa application fee for international graduate student instructors.
The university offered full-day, in-person bargaining sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday the week of April 10. The union declined to meet for full-day sessions, committing to only meet each day from 12 p.m. until 2 p.m. online, with the possibility of extending the time if they determine progress is being made.
Past updates can be found below.
March 31 and April 2
U-M and Graduate Employees’ Organization negotiators met for the eighteenth and nineteenth bargaining sessions Friday, March 31 and Sunday, April 2. A state-appointed mediator was present at both sessions. The university asked the union to bargain each day this week, from April 3 until April 7 with in-person and online options. The union agreed to only four additional hours of online bargaining.
The April 2 session is below. The March 31 session is in the March 2023 panel.
U-M and GEO negotiators met for approximately two and a half hours. The university presented counter proposals on employee rights and class size. The university reiterated its position that it cannot agree to a proposal that would allow GEO to determine class sizes.
For employee rights, the university accepted restrictions around mandatory meetings and obligations with exceptions for training, orientations, and preparation for the semester. The parties made movement on language that would allow GSIs to end work sessions at 11:30 p.m., instead of the current 1:00 a.m. commitment. The university also declined GEO’s proposal to allow GSIs and GSSAs to purchase blue parking passes.
GEO brought counter proposals on union rights, employee training, and leaves, which included:
Union Rights - The union again presented its prior proposal, which would allow GEO to make its orientation presentation during a break in the academic unit’s new employee training or orientation.
Employee Training - The union made no substantial movement.
Leaves of Absence - The union made some movement on their parental accommodation leave proposal to mirror the SPG 201.30-6, which governs Child Birth and Parental Leaves for faculty and staff. GEO continues to propose “school and daycare closure leave” that would enable GSIs to unilaterally change to remote course modality if their child’s daycare or school closes or get a substitute for up to 3 days per semester.
Bargaining sessions are being scheduled for two hours on Wednesday, April 5, two hours on Thursday, April 6, and a full-day on Friday, April 7.
Past updates can be found below.