A group of GEO protesters walks in front of Rackham Graduate school. They're holding signs and banners as they walk in a large group.
GEO members and allies participate in a walkout and strike Wednesday morning. Grace Lahti/Daily. Buy this photo.

As of midnight on Friday, the bargaining team of the University of Michigan’s Graduate Employees’ Organization has officially ratified the University’s final contract offer, ending more than nine months of negotiations, including a five-month-long strike. The ratified contract will last from August 25, 2023 to May 1, 2026, and ensure that graduate student employees will be in the classroom by the time classes begin on Monday.

On August 17, with a little more than a week before classes began, GEO President Jared Eno asked the University to provide the union with their “last, best, and final” contract offer, to be reviewed at their Aug. 21 meeting. The meeting resulted in the union voting to authorize the contract, leaving their bargaining team free to ratify the deal before the start of the fall term.

The final contract offer saw significant gains on multiple issues that GEO brought up in their original bargaining platform. The University committed to continuing the Rackham Summer Funding Program through August 2026. The contract also saw pay gains for graduate student workers, with Ann Arbor campus union members receiving an 8% pay increase in 2023, a 6% increase in 2024 and 6% increase in 2025. Graduate student workers at U-M Dearborn and U-M Flint are also set to receive annual raises for the next couple years, with Dearborn receiving a 10.5% increase over three years, and Flint receiving a 9% annually until their minimum pay aligns with Dearborn. The contract also expanded access to mental health coverage and gender affirming health care benefits, and made concessions to GEO on many other points.

In a tweet from GEO’s twitter account, GEO expressed excitement over the contract authorization, but followed-up in a later tweet saying they would continue to fight for complete pay parity for all U-M graduate student workers.

“We fought tooth-and-nail over 10 months of bargaining and 5 months of strike action, forcing U-M to grant the largest salary increase in GEO history,” the tweet reads. “However, U-M refused to ensure pay parity across all 3 campuses. This battle is over, but the fight goes on!”

In an email, University Spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald said that the University was happy about the ratification of the contract coming before the start of the semester.

“Ratification of this new three-year contract will help to assure a smooth start to the new academic year next week,” Fitzgerald wrote.

Daily News Editor Riley Hodder can be reached at rehodder@umich.edu