The Daily Weekly: Negotiating for a "Contract That Works"

Monday, March 9, 2020 - 12:26am

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On Tuesday, February 18th the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) of the University of Michigan held a grade-in in Mason Hall. GEO is a union made up of graduate students at the University who teach, work in labs, and are conducting research for the University. The protests are a part of tense negotiations between GEO and The University of Michigan’s Human Resources department that began in November 2019. The main sources of disputes in the negotiations are over climate and housing justice as well as the right to a demilitarized workplace, according to GEO. GEO is also advocating for better pay, protections against sexual misconduct, and accommodations for graduate employees with disabilities. The last time GEO reached an agreement with the University was 2017, which addressed providing mental health services, created Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion assistant positions for graduate students, and increased protections for international graduate students. 

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In an interview with The Michigan Daily in December 2019, President Mark Schlissel said that the University is trying to reach a win-win situation with GEO and that “there are some things GEO is going to want that they just aren’t going to get. There are some other things they want that are reasonable and they will get them.” Furthermore, in a statement to The Michigan Daily back in November 2019, Sascha Matish, associate vice provost for academic affairs and senior director of academic human resources, said quote: “We recognize the importance of Graduate Student Instructors and graduate student staff assistants to the academic mission of the university and to the academic success of our students. We are committed to bargaining in good faith with GEO to reach a fair agreement that serves the interest of all parties.”

The two sides are trying to reach a deal by March 1st. This week we’re going to dig into the negotiations between the University and GEO and the effect it will have on the University.

This episode was produced by Audio Engineer Gibson Gillett-Behrens, Executive Producer Sonya Vogel, and Content Producers Gerald Sill and Doug McClure. All the amazing music in this episode was made by Gibson Gillett-Behrens.