GEO negotiators informed U-M that GEO’s membership voted overwhelmingly to authorize a tentative agreement of the university’s last, best, and final offer. The union will begin its ratification vote at noon today and it will run until midnight on Thursday.
The tentative agreement includes the following provisions for graduate student instructors and graduate student staff assistants 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, which provides 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.
U-M and GEO negotiators held an informal meeting to review the university’s last, best, and final offer. The university converted its offer from Sunday into contract language for GEO to present at its general membership meeting later today.
The university will learn the outcome of the union’s vote on a tentative agreement during a scheduled meeting Aug. 22.
U-M and GEO Negotiators met for the forty-eighth bargaining session where the university provided the union with its last, best, and final offer. In collective bargaining, a “last, best, and final offer” is a formal proposal that one side presents to the other which includes all benefits and compromises. This is usually done to allow union members to vote to accept or reject an employer's best-case proposal. It is the culmination of the collective bargaining process, and indicates that no further negotiation will be undertaken.
The university’s offer is historic and wide-ranging in its compensation, benefits, and enhancements, which includes the following key terms:
Ann Arbor - annual increases of 8% in 2023, 6% in 2024, and 6% in 2025 (20% over three years)
Dearborn - annual increases of 3.5%, 3.5%, 3.5% (10.5% over three years)*
Flint - to align its minimum stipend to Dearborn’s at the end of the contract term, which would be about a 9% increase per year.
All campuses - $1,000 bonus
Paid Maternity (Childbirth) and Parental Leaves shall apply to Employees in accordance with Standard Practice Guide 201.30-6, allowing GSIs and GSSAs who are birthing parents to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave without using other forms of paid leave.
Creation of a process for GSIs and GSSAs when school or daycare facilities close unexpectedly and a short term accommodation is needed.
Health and Safety
GSI/GSSAs can bring their own portable air filtration to the workplace.
Well-fitted masks provided by the university will be considered a reasonable accommodation for immunocompromised workers.
GSIs can request others wear masks in instructional spaces, laboratory, office or other in-person meeting space.
In situations when the in-person class may be canceled or taught by a substitute teacher due to health and safety concerns, employees can request that a class be taught remotely.
Prior to implementing changes regarding health and safety protections impacting GSI/GSSA employment, the union would be given reasonable notification and the opportunity to respond.
Establishing lower annual out-of-pocket maximums on mental health copays, decreasing from $500 to $450 per individual and $1,000 to $900 per family.
Establishing lower annual out-of-pocket maximums on physical therapy copays at $500 per individual and $1,000 per family.
Removing the preauthorization process for laser hair removal for the diagnosis of gender dysphoria.
Expanding gender affirming benefits covered under Gradcare to include breast augmentation and facial masculinization.
Creating a special conference to discuss ICD-11 and its impact on gender affirming care and benefits coverage.
Creating a special conference to include a series of meetings on coverage for gender affirming benefits under WPATH SOC 8. One of these meetings will include both the union and the AVP of Human Resources and the Chair of the Medical Benefits Advisory Committee for the purpose of discussing gender affirming benefits and accessibility to those benefits under Gradcare.
Creating a multi-meeting special conference on disability accommodations to discuss the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) process for GSIs and GSSAs and how GSIs and GSSAs can better support their students in accessing ADA accommodations.
Creating a multi-meeting special conference to address concerns about campus infrastructure and resources available to persons with disabilities.
Establishing a contractual timeline for decisions on interim accommodations for those who are unable to provide documentation at the time of requesting the accommodation.
Creating two new GSSA positions focused on accessibility.
Communicating to GSI/GSSAs on the ADA process, ADA training posted on unit websites and yearly ADA training for units.
Transitional Funding Pilot Program
Creating a three-year pilot program, which provides up to one semester of funding to transition out of unhealthy working relationships, including abusive, discriminatory and/or harassing relationships.
Applies to GSIs and GSSAs.
Covered relationships include: supervisor-worker and colleagues within the GSI or GSSA’s employment.
Employee files report with Academic Human Resources (AHR). A committee including AHR, ECRT and the employing school or college will make a determination as to whether or not to grant the funding.
If, once the funding is approved, it is determined that the conduct involved rises to the level of required reporting for IROs under the Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct Policy then one of the committee members will report to ECRT.
The employee does not need to participate in any process initiated after they receive the funding.
Enhancements to Posting and Employment Processes
Additional Enhancements include
The university also offered a letter confirming that the university will create and implement a transitional funding program for GSRAs and fellowship students by the end of the 2023-2024 academic year.
GEO has indicated it will hold a meeting on Monday, Aug. 21 where its membership will vote to authorize a tentative agreement. If members vote to authorize a tentative agreement, a ratification vote could begin Aug. 22.
U-M met with GEO today, continuing ongoing efforts to reach a collective bargaining agreement. The union passed a counter proposal that was essentially a repeat of its last offer and did not show meaningful movement on most areas of the university's last proposal. Instead, the union issued an ultimatum that the university provide its last, best and final offer by the morning of Aug. 20.
U-M reiterated and enumerated the more than twenty gains for GSIs and GSSAs that the parties have either already agreed to in tentative agreements or that the university has provided in its comprehensive package, to make the contract better for the entire bargaining unit. While the parties are down to a few outstanding issues, the totality of the tentative agreements that have been made at the bargaining table are substantial changes that significantly improve the employment terms and conditions for GSIs and GSSAs.
GEO acknowledged that the university has agreed to serious gains for its members and that progress has been made. Key components of the university’s comprehensive package and tentative agreements achieved include:
The parties are close to an agreement on a transgender health benefits memorandum of understanding. The university has asked to schedule the next bargaining session on Aug. 20.
U-M met with GEO in hopes of making significant progress toward reaching agreements on key issues in today’s bargaining session. The union presented a counter proposal that closely resembled its offer from Aug. 11 - showing little meaningful movement. While the parties were able to reach conceptual agreements on a few issues during the session, U-M negotiator’s focused on the parties getting closer to agreements on significant outstanding issues.
Based on movements GEO made today, the parties reached conceptual agreements for the following:
The university has demonstrated its commitment to find common ground by making significant concessions and adjustments on important matters. Yet, several significant issues remain outstanding, including:
Wage parity between the UM-Ann Arbor and UM-Dearborn campuses remains at issue. The two campuses have their own unique mission and priorities, and each makes decisions locally to meet individual campus needs. Each campus creates its own balanced budget each year that details its own tuition revenue, state appropriation and campus expenditures. UM-Dearborn has lower tuition revenue, and combined with lagging revenue growth due to enrollment declines, and increased investment in need-based financial aid, means UM-Dearborn has less financial capacity to pay large salary increases for GSIs and GSSAs.
Another issue that remains is funding for DMAs, Which is an issue to be decided outside GEO bargaining. DMAs receive funding through Rackham and therefore this issue falls outside of GEO’s collective bargaining agreement. The university cannot bargain for individuals not included in the labor contract.
U-M is awaiting confirmation on GEO’s availability for the next bargaining session. Both parties expressed a willingness to meet again this week with the union having to confirm availability for a Friday bargaining session.
The University passed a counter proposal within 48 hours of receiving GEO’s Aug. 11 proposal. U-M’s counter proposal included key elements remaining in negotiations, including salary, healthcare provisions, childcare, and employees with disabilities. Following are key details of U-M’s counter proposal:
The university cannot make changes to out-of-network coverage, and, therefore, is unable to negotiate on the union’s request to expand breast augmentation services. Instead, U-M recommended that GEO present their position for extended coverage to the MBAC chair and AVP of Human Resources.
U-M maintained its prior proposal.
U-M accepted GEO’s proposed new special conferences and made minor adjustments to their timing and the number of attendees.
The university hopes this counter offer will be a significant turning point in negotiations that will result in a tentative agreement.The next bargaining session is scheduled for Aug. 16. U-M is expecting GEO to present its counter proposal.
U-M was presented with a counter proposal from GEO, which provided a similar structure detailed in U-M’s offer that expired. U-M negotiators asked questions to ensure an understanding of GEO’s entire proposal. The discussion marked constructive and meaningful steps forward in the negotiation process. The parties scheduled a weekend session for additional bargaining.
U-M and GEO met for the second day this week, but no bargaining progress resulted. The session would have been the forty-third bargaining meeting; however, GEO instead used both of this week’s sessions to continue to ask questions about U-M’s comprehensive offer that expired on Aug. 4 without a response from GEO by the deadline. Today’s meeting lasted for approximately 30 minutes.
The session ended with U-M requesting additional sessions this week for the parties to focus on bargaining. The union did not commit to additional bargaining sessions.
U-M and GEO were scheduled to meet for the forty-second day of bargaining. Rather than bargaining, the union used the session to discuss U-M’s comprehensive offer that expired on Aug. 4. That offer included a pay raise of 20% over three years and a $1,000 bonus for each member in the first contract year. GEO learned of the terms of the offer verbally on July 31 and received a written offer on Aug. 2, but failed to respond by the expiration date with either a rejection or a confirmation of intent to put the proposal up for a ratification vote by GEO membership.
During the session, the university’s bargaining team reiterated that the offer had expired on the date stated in the proposal. The most recent previous offer now on the table is the May 12th comprehensive proposal. The parties met for approximately one hour.
The next bargaining session is scheduled for Aug. 8.
U-M and GEO negotiators met for the forty-first day of bargaining. The union presented one counter proposal for the day-long session and the parties were able to reach one tentative agreement regarding ADHD/ASD coverage.
The university presented a counter proposal on the IGSI and Healthcare Funds. The proposal increased its latest offer for the IGSI Fund from $15,000 to $20,000 per year, on condition that the union withdraw its Healthcare Fund proposal.
The university reiterated that it needs to see significant movement from the union before the university can consider adjusting its proposals regarding employee training, disability policies, and benefits any further.
GEO ended the session early stating their need to dedicate the scheduled bargaining session to prepare counter proposals. Prior to the hour-long session on July 13, the parties had nearly three weeks to prepare proposals to submit. The day’s session adjourned without a commitment from GEO for future bargaining sessions.
The university continues to offer open availability to schedule bargaining sessions. Both parties will take part in the first of two fact-finding hearings on Friday, July 21st. The fact-finding process is administered by the Michigan Employment Relations Commission and involves a third-party, neutral fact finder hearing testimony and exhibits in relation to outstanding proposals. The fact finder will issue an opinion on a reasonable settlement.
The university filed for fact finding on May 17th after presenting the union with a comprehensive package proposal on May 12th to which the union still has not responded in whole. The university's comprehensive package included a proposed salary increase of 12.5% over the three year term of the contract.
The union has not passed salary across the table since April 28th and has not moved from its initial proposal in November of a 60% increase in year one for Ann Arbor and Dearborn and an 81% increase in year one in Flint.
U-M and GEO negotiators met for the fortieth day of bargaining. The parties met jointly on Zoom for approximately one hour. GEO provided counter proposals with no or little movement from previous counters.
GEO persists in piecemealing sections from entire articles, rather than negotiating entire articles. Negotiating an entire article allows both parties to have a clear understanding of the intent of each article as a whole. However, separating sections precludes the ability to assess how sections interconnect, which can result in confusion and conflict within the article. By coming to agreement on the entirety of the article, the parties can develop a cohesive agreement that reduces the risk of ambiguity or gaps in language.
The union’s counter proposals were largely in packages based on categories as they determined them, and included benefits and IGSIs terms. The union also passed a package with entire articles on Employee Training and Policies and Procedures for Employees with Disabilities and a standalone counter proposal on the Class Size article.
Employee Training and Policies and Procedures for Employees with Disabilities
The university answered GEO’s questions regarding the current ADHD and ASD coverage under Gradcare along with the process for obtaining diagnosis and prescriptions. The next bargaining session is scheduled in-person for a full day on July 14.
U-M and GEO negotiators met for the thirty-ninth day of bargaining. GEO abruptly walked out of the bargaining session and refused to provide future bargaining session dates.
U-M negotiators expected to spend the day discussing the union’s counter proposals to U-M’s comprehensive package passed back on May 12. Instead the union also insisted that the university negotiate over rights and benefits of others not included in the GEO bargaining unit. U-M negotiators declined to do so because the university and GEO do not have the authority to negotiate for others outside of their bargaining unit, at which point GEO refused to bargain further and walked out of the meeting.
U-M negotiators have not seen a counter proposal from GEO on compensation - one of the most important outstanding issues, since April 28. The university has presented four compensation proposals since negotiations began.
During the session, the union brought sections of Article 10 - Salaries and Article 21 - Employee Rights, which the parties had come to agreement on months ago. They also provided counter proposals on the IGSI Fund and Speech Therapy Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with very little movement.
U-M negotiators raised the issue of the university’s counter proposal on the Transitional Funding Program, which would provide funding to GSIs and GSSAs with claims of harassment. The proposal would create a committee to review applications for transitional funding. At least one member of the committee would be an individual with mandatory reporting obligations, as defined by the university's sexual and gender-based misconduct policy. GEO is adamantly opposed to any reporting obligation being involved in the process. It is that reporting, however, that allows the university to address the harm being caused.
The university believes that the bargaining table is the best way to reach agreements with its unions. However, given GEO’s refusal to bargain and the impasse in bargaining, the university is hoping that fact-finding proceedings will assist the parties to come to agreements. Until those hearings are scheduled, U-M negotiators will continue to offer their availability to negotiate with GEO.
U-M and GEO negotiators met for the thirty-eighth day of bargaining. The Union presented several counter proposals, but continued to have no response to the university's comprehensive package that was passed on May 12th. Because the union has not responded to the university’s comprehensive package, the university remains unable to pass any other proposals.
The union’s counter proposal regarding Article 14 (Employee Rights Section I. Work Hours) accepted most of U-M’s language with one minor addition regarding notice of employee meetings for term preparation during university breaks.
The union’s counter proposal regarding the Reproductive Health MOU included one added sentence that does not substantially change the MOU from U-M’s proposal.
The union’s counter proposal regarding the Gender-Affirming Benefits MOU included many additions to what would be covered under mammoplasty and facial feminization.
The parties have prioritized achieving agreements on entire articles rather than piecemeal agreements on sections of articles. The proposals brought by the union included individual sections, deviating from the process the parties have been following. Since the university’s goal is to make progress towards reaching as many tentative agreements as possible prior to the fact-finding hearing, there was no pushback from the university on the union’s new format.
The university identified two other areas on which the parties were close to achieving agreement and proposed a package with three of the union’s four proposals (excluding the gender-affirming care MOU) and adding Article 6 Union Rights Section E, Orientations and Physical Therapy Co-pays MOU.
The union then proposed a counter package that included everything in U-M’s package, except Article 6 Union Rights. The parties achieved four tentative agreements:
The next bargaining session is scheduled for June 23.
Past updates can be found below.
U-M negotiators met with GEO for the thirty-seventh day of bargaining. GEO presented no counter offer to the university’s comprehensive package proposal provided on May 12. The union did inform the university that their members had voted to reject the comprehensive package.
The parties did reach agreements on 12 memoranda of understanding (MOU): 10 that were not discussed in previous sessions and already well established in prior GEO contracts and 2 new MOUs related to transgender health. The university is awaiting a counter proposal from GEO on its comprehensive package and has offered to meet daily in order to reach resolution on the outstanding issues.
GEO proposed one day in June for bargaining. The parties are still working to determine the next date for bargaining.
GEO chose not to bargain during the scheduled thirty-sixth session and instead used the full day’s bargaining time as a working caucus. The comprehensive package provided by the university on May 12 included movement on seven proposals, but the remaining proposals were unchanged from the last pass by the university. Nevertheless, the union chose not to provide any counter proposals on May 16. U-M negotiators and the mediator remained in-person, prepared to negotiate at any point during the scheduled session, but the parties did not meet.
The next bargaining session is scheduled for May 31.
U-M negotiators met with GEO for the thirty-fifth day of bargaining. The university passed back a comprehensive proposal package in response to all outstanding issues, which included an increased compensation offer and movement in six other areas. GEO has passed about 60 proposals since negotiations began in November, many of which are issues that are not mandatory and go beyond the wages, hours and working conditions of GSSAs and GSIs.
In the last six months only five tentative agreements have been reached between the parties including three articles and two Memoranda of Understanding (MOU). The university seeks substantial movement toward tentative agreements on the majority of the outstanding issues by May 16, the next scheduled bargaining session. U-M informed GEO that it would seek a neutral state-appointed representative from the Michigan Employment Relations Commission to review disputed issues and provide recommendations for settlement of the contract, known in labor relations as Fact Finding.
U-M’s comprehensive package includes proposals offering additional movement from the university.
Compensation: The university submitted its fourth compensation proposal. This proposal would provide GEO members on the Ann Arbor campus an increase of 12.5% over the next three years - 5% in year one, 4% in the second year and 3.5% in the final year. Dearborn and Flint-based GEO members would receive an increase of 6.75% over the same period.
Tuition Waiver: The counter proposal reduced tuition for those with an appointment fraction below .237 by an additional percent..
Transitional Funding Pilot Program: The counter proposal added language to include a GEO representative on the committee to recommend if the one year pilot program should continue along with recommending any criteria to be used if the pilot program is extended for the life of the contract.
International Graduate Workers Assistance Fund: New language increased the amount of the fund to $15,000 from $10,000. The remaining process and requirements that the university had proposed in its last offer remained in this offer.
GradCare Coverage of Neurodevelopmental Disorders: Revised the union’s proposed language to better reflect the current coverage available under the GradCare comprehensive health plan. Normally the parties would not add MOUs to the contract that state current coverage, the MOUs are for deviations in coverage. The union has expressed concerns about their member’s ability to determine coverage in this area so the university has made an exception to the past practice of only including deviations from normal coverage in the contract.
Mental Health Copayments: Language included that would reduce maximum annual out-of-pocket copayments to $450 for an individual and $900 for a family, down from $500 for an individual and $1000 for a family for mental health co-pays under the current MOU, which the university has already agreed to extend to the new contract term.
Expanded Coverage of Gender-Affirming Benefits: The counter proposal included specific procedures that are covered under the expanded benefits that the university offered when adding facial masculinization and augmentation to GradCare.
The union passed two supposals on union rights and a counter proposal on employee rights that were mostly unchanged.
The university is committed to bringing negotiations to conclusion with a new collective bargaining agreement. Negotiators continue to offer availability to meet every day, in-person for full-day bargaining sessions. Bargaining sessions are scheduled for May 16 and May 31. The university awaits dates of availability from GEO for June, when a new GEO bargaining team will lead their negotiations.
U-M and GEO negotiators met for the thirty-third day of bargaining on May 5, 2023. The university hopes to bring negotiations to a conclusion with an agreement as soon as possible.
U-M negotiators believe that more productive time spent at the bargaining table is the best solution to help the parties reach an agreement. The university proposed a schedule to bargain in-person every day over the next several weeks. The union committed to only two days of bargaining: May 12 for eight hours and May 16 for six hours.
Negotiations from the day’s session included U-M passing back salary, dues deduction, tuition waiver, and childcare. The university maintained its position on these proposals restating the need for GEO to make significant movement on their counter proposals.
The university also passed back the Transitional Funding Pilot Program proposal, making significant movement toward GEO’s request for a funding program for harassment and discrimination. GEO opposed the university’s proposal because it requires reporting of sexual and gender-based misconduct, harassment, and discrimination to the Equity, Civil Rights, and Title IX (ECRT) Office. Not reporting such issues is contrary to the university’s mission and would impede the university’s ability to protect future GSIs and GSSAs from experiencing a similar situation with an accused harasser.
The proposed pilot program would:
Allow GSIs and GSSAs to receive funding for up to one semester if they experience an instance of harassment, discrimination or abuse in a supervisor-worker or colleague relationship. This would assist bargaining unit members by giving them the opportunity to leave the situation without fear of losing pay or benefits.
Develop a review committee that would determine whether a GSI’s or GSSA’s transitional funding request is granted. The committee would report to the ECRT Office any issue that meets the required reporting obligation for Individuals with Reporting Obligations (“IROs”). However, the funding would not be contingent on participation in an ECRT investigation or an outcome of an investigation.
The union passed back counter proposals for the three Memorandum of Understandings for GSSA positions. The union did not make any substantive movement except to add back their previous language on details of the GSSAs on disability culture, which the university has already agreed to create in a format that mirrors the DEI GSSA positions that have been in the contract since 2017.
The next bargaining session is scheduled for May 12. U-M negotiators continue to provide an open-ended schedule to make progress with bargaining.
U-M and GEO negotiators met for the thirty-second day of bargaining. At the request of the Michigan Employment Relations Commission mediator, U-M and union negotiators dedicated the first-half of the session to compiling a list of outstanding articles. The second-half of the session was dedicated to the parties sharing their lists and discussing the outstanding issues to achieve agreement on each article’s status. The productive conversation included the union and the university having the opportunity to clarify outstanding issues.
U-M negotiators have offered availability to meet every day, in-person for full day bargaining sessions over the next three weeks. The next bargaining session will be Friday, May 5th in-person.
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:
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:
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:
In addition, the university has already offered the following:
The next bargaining session is scheduled for Monday, April 24.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
During Friday’s day-long session, the parties reached a tentative agreement on training requirements for International Graduate Student Instructors (IGSI). The university provided counter proposals on benefits, childcare, leaves of absence , and harassment and discrimination funding programs. Some of issues that had forward movement include:
Paid Parental Leave - The university's proposal would increase parental leave from 8 weeks to 10 weeks and allow employees the ability to request up to three days per semester to work remotely due to daycare and school closures.
Benefits - The university clarified that almost all of the abortion coverage GEO asked for in their proposal was already covered by the university’s benefits plan and that the plan would now cover Level 3 coverage also, which was included in GEO’s proposal. The university did not agree to include this language in the contract as the specific benefits are not included in the contract, only exceptions.
GEO provided proposals with little to no changes on employee training, employee rights, and employees with disabilities. While the parties had been making significant progress on the union rights proposal there is one remaining issue with regards to when the union orientation would occur. The university had offered a compromise at the previous bargaining session. The union countered with its previous proposal and no movement.
On the class size proposal, the union continued to propose language that would allow GEO to determine class size.
The Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) began a strike on March 29. The university recognizes the essential contributions of GSIs and GSSAs to our academic community, and we are disappointed that GEO believes this step is necessary. Minimizing impact on our undergraduate student community is one of our highest priorities, and measures are in place to ensure instruction continues.
We strongly believe that a strike is simply not the best way for GEO to achieve its objectives.
There are many weeks left to negotiate before the May 1 contract expiration, and our intention is to continue to bargain with GEO regardless of a strike. The university’s bargaining team has offered to meet as many days as possible to resolve the negotiations and reach an agreement. The university hopes a state mediator will be able to assist the parties in coming to an agreement through the process of good faith negotiations.
In addition, a strike violates GEO’s own agreement with the university. To be specific: the current contract, which GEO embraced and signed in 2020, and which was ratified by GEO membership, continued to include the contract language specifying the union agrees not to strike while the contract is in effect. The union first agreed to this language in 2013. It is concerning that the union has decided not to honor its contractual promises, which undermines the process of collective bargaining.
The next bargaining session is scheduled for March 31. While negotiators have made progress on some issues, the union has failed to move on most of its key demands, including a 60% salary increase in the first year of the contract, even as it continues to attempt to negotiate other issues that are outside the scope of this contract, such as police reform. A state-appointed mediator will again join the March 31 session to assist the parties with reaching agreements.
Answers to frequently asked questions about the strike can be found on this FAQ. This FAQ provides general information about the strike and outlines the required weekly attestation process for GEO members to receive pay during the strike. Due to U-M’s pay schedule, the attestation requirement becomes effective April 2, with the first weekly reporting survey distributed to all GEO members on April 9.
U-M and Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) negotiators met for the sixteenth and seventeenth bargaining sessions Friday and Sunday, March 24 and 26.
Much of Friday’s session was dedicated to GEO presenting counter proposals that, relative to their original proposals, are unchanged. Most important among them, GEO has refused to move from its initial proposal of a 60% increase in the first year of the contract and inflationary increases in years two and years three. Given GEO’s refusal to make movement, the university countered with its proposal from March 17, which would provide 5% in year one, 3.5% in year two and 3% in year three in Ann Arbor and 2% increase each year of the contract for Flint and Dearborn. This compensation counter that U-M provided makes significant movement from its original proposal.
Additional proposals with no changes from the union include union rights, job postings, transgender healthcare, felony disclosure, benefits, childcare, class size, tuition waiver, employee right, disability, training fees, mental health copayments, health and safety, and diagnosis and treatment coverage for all neurodevelopmental disorders.
The union also submitted a counter proposal that would combine their original requests for a healthcare fund and reproductive healthcare fund. The counter proposal combined two initial proposals to create new financial funds into one fund, which would provide the union $500,000 per year.
At the end of the session, the university proposed additional bargaining sessions on Sunday, March 26 on Monday, March 27. GEO agreed to bargain on Sunday, but did not commit to meeting on Monday.
On Sunday, the parties met for approximately five hours. The university presented 13 counter proposals and the union presented two counter proposals. The parties reached tentative agreements on felony disclosure and job postings.
The university proposed to negotiate the following day. The union stated that they would meet on Monday if the university agreed to meet on their terms, which is to only negotiate on proposals determined by GEO and that the proposals be provided to them in advance of the bargaining session. This deviates drastically from the course of normal negotiations and from the process the parties have followed for the last four months.
The university is willing to meet on a daily basis and continues to propose additional days and times for bargaining sessions. At this time, the next session is scheduled for Friday, March 31.
U-M and Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) negotiators met for the fifteenth bargaining session. This is the second half-day bargaining session added to the schedule to enable the parties to work toward mutually beneficial agreements.
Once again, the university requested additional times for negotiation sessions. The union did not commit to scheduling times.
While the university had hoped its movements on several of the outstanding issues would result in tentative agreements, the Union declined to agree.
The university provided counter proposals on transgender health, union rights, job postings, and felony disclosures. The university’s counter proposals included acceptance of the union’s language regarding including additional information in job postings and acceptance of the union’s language to clarify when felony charges must be disclosed.
The union provided a counter proposal on paid leave.
GEO presented no response to the university’s offer on compensation. The university has presented three counter proposals to GEO since negotiations began, the latest would provide a wage increase of 11.5% over the next three-year contract term.
The next bargaining session is scheduled for March 24.
U-M and Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) negotiators met for the fourteenth session of bargaining. A state-appointed mediator from the Michigan Employment Relations Commission was present to help both parties move forward on proposals where there has been little or no progress. The university’s priority is to reach an agreement with GEO prior to the end of the current contract on May 1.
The university presented eight counter proposals in the day’s session, which included benefits, childcare, health and safety, and paid leave. There was some forward movement on International Graduate Student Instructors (IGSI) training fees and parental accommodation leave for those who adopt, foster, or become legal guardians, but the parties did not come to any tentative agreements.
The university presented another compensation proposal after having provided two prior wage increase proposals. GEO’s response to each of those offers has been to resubmit their original proposal without changes. In the March 17 session, GEO did not respond to U-M's latest counter proposal, which included:
GEO provided counter proposals on union rights, job posting and transgender health. In the responses, GEO has withdrawn language that would have allowed them to object to and remove course content.
The parties are scheduled to meet for a four-hour bargaining session on March 22 and a full-day bargaining session on March 24.
U-M and Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) negotiators met for the thirteenth session of bargaining. The parties committed to meet twice a week through March 24. Today’s session was planned to last for approximately three hours.
The university submitted counter proposals on union rights, job security, and job posting. The parties reached a tentative agreement on job security, which addresses terms of GSI voluntary resignations and graduating students who seek GSI employment but do not meet the required minimum credit hours.
GEO submitted counter proposals on employee training, employees with disabilities, International Graduate Student Instructor (IGSI) training, and GSSA positions, but with little substantive change.
Additional forward movement is still needed on many of the proposals discussed today.
Negotiations continue on March 17 for a full day of bargaining.
U-M and Graduate Employees' Organization (GEO) negotiators met for the twelfth session of bargaining. The current agreement is in effect until May 1, 2023. The university remains committed to negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement.
Compensation is a significant outstanding issue. The university has submitted two counter proposals on compensation. The university’s most recent compensation proposal offers a 3% increase for the first year of the contract, 2.5% the second year, and 2% for the third year for Ann Arbor graduate student instructors and a 1.25% increase each year for Flint and Dearborn.
GEO has not made any movement from their original compensation demands, which include a 60% increase in the first contract year in Ann Arbor and Dearborn and an 88% increase in Flint.
Because of the number of issues that remain unresolved, next week the university will again seek the assistance of the state-appointed mediator from the Michigan Employment Relations Commission to help the parties achieve a negotiated agreement. Furthermore, GEO has publicly conveyed it is actively engaging in preparations to strike. The university believes a strike is unnecessary and unlawful and a mediator will assist the parties in resolving outstanding issues without resorting to a work stoppage.
The university submitted packaged counter proposals on multiple issues to make notable movement toward a tentative agreement, including:
In addition to its compensation counter proposal, which has not changed, the union also submitted counter proposals on tuition waivers, class size, and required disclosure of felony charges and/or felony convictions.
The parties have seven negotiation sessions scheduled and a mediator’s assistance presents the next appropriate step to coming to an agreement and a productive path forward. The parties are also working to arrange two additional bargaining sessions this month. Currently, bargaining sessions are held once a week.
The next scheduled bargaining session is scheduled for March 17.
U-M and Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) negotiators met for the eleventh session of bargaining. The parties made some progress on the university’s counter-proposal on transgender health benefits, with the university accepting much of the union’s proposed language that includes Memoranda of Understanding for speech therapy and laser hair removal coverage. Talks will continue in hopes of reaching an agreement on these issues.
Progress in other areas was slower or stalled. The university also provided counter-proposals on childcare and tuition waivers. The union reviewed the counters and returned them by the end without suggesting any proposed changes, which resulted in no new movement.
On February 10, U-M negotiators presented a counter-proposal on compensation, and this week hoped to discuss this issue further. However, for the second session in a row, the union did not respond to the university’s most recent compensation proposal.
GEO presented a counter-proposal on union rights, which will require continued discussion to reach an agreement. In addition, the union once again provided the proposal for payment for placement for graduate students in masters of social work program, a proposal the university requested to be withdrawn in a previous session because social work students are not members of the GEO bargaining unit.
At the union’s request, bargaining sessions will not occur during the spring break. The next scheduled session will be March 10. The university has offered to meet more than once per week for the parties to reach an agreement. The current contract is effective until May 1, 2023.
U-M negotiators met with Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) negotiators for the tenth bargaining session. While there were some positive discussions toward reaching agreements, many of the union’s counter-proposals, presented as follow-ups from prior meetings, were left unchanged.
In addition, the university in the previous week’s session had passed a counter-proposal to the union on compensation. GEO did not respond to that counter-proposal.
The union’s topics for the bargaining session included reproductive rights, healthcare, disability, workload and workplace.
The university provided counter-proposals on Article 9: Job Posting, Distribution of Postings, Notifications and Hiring Procedure, which includes the union’s proposals on masters students and workload and workplace.
Negotiations for the next bargaining session is planned for Feb. 24. After the break, the next weekly session is scheduled on March 10. In order to maximize productive negotiations, the university proposed multiple weekly sessions leading up to May 1, which is the end of the current contract.
U-M negotiators met with Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) negotiators for the ninth bargaining session. The parties continued to work toward agreement in several areas. The university provided counter-proposals on compensation, union rights, and felony disclosure. The following provides details of the counter-proposals.
The union submitted a counter-proposal for compensation which included no movement from its original language to increase the first year stipend for GSIs and GSSAs in Ann Arbor and Dearborn by 60 percent and Flint by 88 percent. For the second and third years of the contract, the union proposed a variable increase that would rise with inflation. The university presented its initial counter on Feb. 3 that would have increased the stipend 2 percent each year for Ann Arbor employees and 1 percent each year for Flint and Dearborn. U-M provided its second counter, which would increase the stipend for GSIs and GSSAs on the Ann Arbor campus by 3 percent for the first year, 2.5 percent for the second year, and 2 percent for the final year of the contract. The stipend for Flint and Dearborn would increase 1.25 percent each year.
The union’s proposal on union rights would end online orientations at the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT) - a method used by several university units. U-M presented counter-proposals that would continue the use of CRLT, but would also allow the union to have in-person orientations with employees.
U-M’s counter-proposals on felony disclosure would include maintaining the existing Memorandum of Understanding in the contract and add language that would notify the union if a bargaining unit member disclosed a charge or conviction. This approach would allow the union to be notified in the early stages of disclosure.
The bargaining session also included counter-proposals from the union on international graduate student instructors, COVID-19 safety, and harassment and discrimination. While there was some movement in these counter-proposals from the original proposals, much of the language was unchanged.
The union also presented a modified counter-proposal on transgender health. As part of this counter-proposal, the union included a presentation to explain the modifications from their original proposal to their latest counter. This presentation and a productive follow-up conversation about the proposal allowed the university to gain a better understanding and reasoning for the proposed changes.
The university looks forward to continuing productive negotiations with GEO during the next bargaining session scheduled for Feb. 17.
U-M negotiators and Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) negotiators met for the eighth bargaining session. By the end of the session, the university had provided an initial response to all proposals submitted by GEO for the new three-year contract.
34 counter proposals were passed by the university. The following provides more details on several significant proposals.
The union presented three compensation proposals. The proposals would increase the yearly stipend for GSIs and GSSAs for the first year to $38,537, an increase of 60 percent in Ann Arbor and Dearborn, and 88 percent in Flint. For the second and third years of the contract, the union proposed a variable increase that would rise with inflation. The union additionally proposed that the university pay students to take courses required to become a GSI. Proposed language would also allow for GSIs and GSSAs to defer portions of their compensation to receive paychecks throughout the summer.
U-M Response and Rationale: U-M provided a counter to the compensation proposals. The university proposed a yearly 2 percent increase for employees on the Ann Arbor campus and yearly increases of 1 percent for Flint and Dearborn employees. U-M did not support the union’s additional proposals, as the university does not pay for students’ course credits and the proposed compensation deferral is not administratively feasible.
The union presented 12 workload and workplace proposals. The proposals would determine how GSIs and GSSAs work, which includes allowing GSIs to remove course content and set a contractual cap on class size. The union proposed to remove the enrollment requirements that qualify students to become GSIs and GSSAs. Proposed language would also provide full tuition waivers for any fraction.
U-M Response and Rationale: U-M countered all 12 proposals. The university’s counters maintained the current contract language and removed the union’s proposed language. The proposals would require the university to standardized determinations without regard for the unique needs of individual schools and colleges.
The union presented five healthcare proposals. The proposals would eliminate mental health copayments, require the university to create a yearly $700,000 health care fund, and automatically enroll GSIs and GSSAs in vision coverage and dental plan level 2.
U-M Response and Rationale: U-M provided counter proposals. The university agreed to extend the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) from the last round of negotiations that reduced the GSIs and GSSAs out-of-pocket maximums for mental health copayments. U-M rejected the remainder of GEO’s healthcare proposal language, as the requests would give GEO extensive benefits not offered to other university employees.
The union presented two transgender healthcare proposals. The proposals would require U-M’s insurance carrier to adopt new guidelines developed by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health released in September of 2022. The union additionally proposed that U-M hire additional staff at Michigan Medicine’s Comprehensive Gender Services Program and increase coverage for voice therapy sessions.
U-M Response and Rationale: U-M countered with proposed alternative language and did not agree to the proposals. The university indicated that some language in the transgender healthcare proposal should not be negotiated in a collective bargaining agreement for graduate student employees. However, the university provided Blue Care Network’s updated coverage requirements indicating that a letter from a primary care physician is acceptable to access coverage. The university’s counter proposal updated language to increase coverages included in the contract to align with benefits currently offered to employees.
The union presented three harassment and discrimination proposals. One of the proposals would create a new program that provides at least one semester of U-M funding for GSIs, GSSAs, graduate student research assistants (GSRAs), tutors, graders, and hourly resident advisors (RAs) to transition out of an unhealthy relationship. The union additionally proposed an emergency fund to grant students up to $6,000 for expenses related to removing themselves from harassment and discrimination while working in the field and a proposal that would require U-M to administer a survey with questions related to harassment, discrimination, and abuse at the end of each semester and publish the results.
U-M Response and Rationale: U-M countered and was unable to accept the proposals without additional discussion and clarification on the policies and procedures governing the proposed funds.The university requested a smaller group meeting to allow for an in-depth conversation around the issues and to come to a resolution. The union declined the meeting request and U-M rejected the proposals.
The university also passed counter proposals on reproductive rights, disability and accommodation, and MOUs creating additional GSSA appointments.
The next bargaining session is scheduled for Feb. 10.
U-M met with the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) for the seventh bargaining session. The parties continue discussions to reach a mutually agreeable collective bargaining agreement. The existing contract ends on May 1, 2023.
Three tentative agreements were reached in relation to GEO’s Union Rights proposal. The new language includes:
U-M passed 14 counter-proposals to the union’s proposals on reproductive rights, international graduate student instructors (GSIs), childcare, and masters students.
Proposal 1: The union had proposed expanding GradCare to cover condoms and emergency contraceptives at no cost and with no prescription. The proposal creates multiple contractual obligations related to reproductive health for the University Health Service, which provides services to all students. It also expands abortion coverage to include out of state and elective abortions at any time during pregnancy.
Proposal 2: The union had proposed a one week leave specifically for reproductive care.
Proposal 3: The union had proposed the creation of a $10,000 annual Reproductive Health Fund that would be fully administered (procedures, policies and requirements) by GEO to cover costs related to reproductive health.
Proposal 1: The union had proposed the creation of a $100,000 annual Graduate Workers Assistance Fund that would be fully administered by GEO to reimburse fees related to immigration.
Proposal 2: The union’s proposal would expand reimbursement of immigration-related fees to include tax-free fees. Additionally, the language requires U-M to make eligibility determinations.
Proposal 3: The union’s proposal adds additional requirements that a GSI or GSSA holding a visa with work restrictions cannot work over 20 hours weekly.
Proposal 4: The union’s employee rights proposal would require alternative forms of employment if a GSI or GSSA is unable to begin their position due to visa-related issues.
Proposal 5: The union had proposed moving policy details from a current appendix into the contract language.
Proposal 1: The union’s proposal on childcare subsidies would eliminate all eligibility criteria. This includes the requirement that the provider is licensed and that any spouse or partner must work part-time or attend school. The proposal also would increase the subsidy and change the structure.
Proposal 2: The union’s proposal on employee parental accommodation leave included removal of the qualification that a child be under the age of 6 years old in the event of an adoption, foster or legal guardianship, increased the parental accommodation period for all circumstances under the article from 8 to 12 weeks and increased the paid time off from 6 weeks to 12 weeks.
Proposals 3 and 4: The union’s proposals for guaranteed healthcare for medical leave and family and dependent care leaves adds language that U-M would continue to pay the employer health premium if a GSI or GSSA takes an approved medical leave through Rackham Graduate School.
Proposal 5: The union’s proposal for paid school and daycare closure leave would create a leave for a school or daycare closure with no boundaries on the amount of time of the leave.
The union had proposed a standardized hiring system for all GSI and GSSA positions. This includes a standardized website; a standardized employment application process; a centralized onboarding checklist; centralized employment posting; and five day requirement for notification of an accepted offer. It also prohibits posting a position that has a candidate in mind.
The next bargaining session is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 3.
The sixth bargaining session with the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) began with the union providing additional clarity on several topics from its initial proposals, at the university’s request. The session also included the university’s first responses to a number of proposals submitted by the union, including ones focusing on unarmed non-police responses, immigration protections, and what is known as “payment for placement.”
Because these proposals are not mandatory and go beyond the impact to graduate student instructors (GSIs) and graduate students staff assistants (GSSAs), U-M formally requested that the union withdraw these proposals. The proposals and U-M’s responses are as follows:
University negotiators believe the topics covered in these proposals are important; however, the university bargaining team wishes to focus negotiations on those topics that can be bargained for within the constraints of the labor contract.
The session ended with the university providing counter proposals to GEO’s Felony Disclosure, Health and Safety and Union Rights proposals. Counter proposal details:
The university remains committed to bargaining in good faith toward a contract that works for graduate student employees. The bargaining teams will continue to hold weekly sessions with a shared goal of reaching a new three-year-agreement.
The next bargaining session is scheduled on Friday, Jan. 27.
The parties met for the fifth session of bargaining. U-M reached an agreement on meeting logistics with the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO). The agreed upon meeting logistics include:
Given the parties’ ability to reach an agreement on logistics, the parties agreed that the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) assigned mediator is no longer needed. The mediator may return at a later date if the parties require assistance on more substantive issues during the process. This progress allowed the bargaining teams to begin discussions on substantive issues. The university proceeded with questions on proposals the union passed in prior bargaining sessions: abolition, transgender health, childcare, union rights, reproductive rights and compensation.
The next scheduled meeting is Friday Jan. 20.
During this fourth bargaining session, university negotiators received the remaining proposal from the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) and revised versions of previous proposals in contract language, which now enables the university to begin a comprehensive review of the union’s requests.
University and union negotiators continue to be at odds over meeting logistics. As outlined in U-M’s guiding principles, the university is committed to a collaborative, transparent negotiation process that supports progress toward reaching a new contract agreement. The state-appointed mediator from the Michigan Employment Relations Commission was present for the session. The mediator met with both negotiating teams to help facilitate an agreement on meeting logistics for the remaining 2023 bargaining sessions. While no agreement was yet reached, U-M negotiators continue to present meeting options to the union that allow for efficient and productive bargaining that will result in a mutually beneficial successor agreement.
The next bargaining session is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 13.
University negotiators met with the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) for the third and last bargaining session of the year on Dec. 16. To date, each of these sessions has been primarily focused on the union presenting its proposals for contract changes. The meeting was attended by a mediator appointed by the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC). The mediator worked with both parties to enable efficient and effective negotiations going forward. The university remains committed to fair and transparent bargaining with GEO, and the union has presented most of its initial proposals.
Looking into next year, U-M’s bargaining team expects GEO to continue presenting its proposed changes to the contract during the Jan. 6 bargaining session. Once all the proposals have been submitted, the university will review the details and begin to provide its responses to the proposals.
University negotiators will meet with the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) today for the last scheduled bargaining session this year. The university has continued to bargain in good faith with GEO while it seeks to reach agreement on the mechanics and conditions of bargaining. Here is a brief summary of where things stand:
The meetings so far have included discussions and questions by the university on GEO’s Nov. 17 compensation proposal. GEO has also made proposals for childcare, healthcare, transgender healthcare, reproductive rights, harassment and discrimination protections, “payment for placement” for School of Social Work students with required fieldwork experiences and union rights.
The parties have yet to reach agreement on the allowable number of attendees and their role in the negotiations process. The university strongly supports small, in-person bargaining sessions with a more manageable format that includes bargaining team members and allows for a reasonable number of observers who are either GEO members or those who might become members during the term of the contract. This size and format is most conducive to effective bargaining, and is standard practice in U.S. labor negotiations. The university also supports Zoom access for bargaining team members who are unable to participate in person. This process protects the integrity of bargaining, safeguards frank discussions, and allows substantive issues and possible solutions to be explored, while still supporting transparency in the process.
History has shown that such bargaining can be done in good faith and with transparency. Indeed, GEO and the university experimented with large bargaining sessions in 1975. Even during those negotiations, when the decision was made to hold “public” negotiations, it was with the following stipulations: no more than 50 observers present, no photographs or audio, visual taping of the proceedings, observers must remain orderly, only members of the bargaining team could speak, and admission was on a first come first serve basis. Nevertheless, the parties quickly mutually agreed to return to smaller meetings. The Michigan Daily reported at the time, “little progress can be made at an open meeting where every comment and tentative offer is subject to misinterpretation and undue publicity.” U-M believes this remains true today and is hoping that the cooperation that has characterized the relationship with GEO over decades will help guide the parties on establishing a clear process that supports transparent, effective bargaining. In a break from the format that has served the parties well over the years, GEO has requested meeting rooms that can hold 160 people and wishes to include observers in every negotiation session, who can be outside of the bargaining unit and can also actively participate in negotiations.
Earlier in December, GEO informed the university that it no longer wished to negotiate ground rules for bargaining sessions. To help ensure a mutually agreed upon process for negotiations in the new year, the university has requested that the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) assign a mediator. The mediator will attend the Dec. 16 session, and the university plans to meet with the mediator.
U-M requests a mediator from the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) to help reach an agreement with the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) on logistics for bargaining the new contract. The decision followed several attempts by the university over seven weeks to offer other options for bargaining logistics that were rejected by the union, including engaging a private, neutral, third-party mediator to assist the parties in reaching agreement. The union refused reasonable limits on the number of invited guests, which would make the proceedings open to the public, for all intents and purposes. The university informed the union that it would be willing to bargain in the rooms it originally reserved for negotiations and that have been used in previous negotiations with GEO and others. The union declined to meet in that room. After many failed attempts to come to a resolution on bargaining logistics, the university contacted MERC for mediation on Friday, December 2.
U-M hopes to reach an agreement on meeting logistics to make way for bargaining on substantive issues. The university has a decades-long history of successfully and collaboratively negotiating with the GEO.
For the benefit of students, we look to continue that legacy and begin negotiations for a new contract.
Two additional bargaining sessions are scheduled in December. For more, visit the University Record.
U-M and GEO held the first negotiation session for a new three-year contract, despite ongoing disagreement over negotiation ground rules and the number of observers that can be accommodated. The university and GEO have traditionally bargained with mutually agreed upon ground rules.
In the spirit of collaboration, and to begin the work of negotiating, the university accepted GEO’s request for a larger in-person audience for the first day of negotiations. Efforts to reach an agreement on meeting format are ongoing. The university’s goal is to reach a mutually acceptable contract agreement with GEO.