After failing to reach a new contract agreement with the University earlier this week, hundreds of GSIs took to the picket lines outside of major campus buildings yesterday, canceling many classes and forcing some professors to find alternate ways to teach their courses.
That contract was reached late last night, meaning the walkout will not continue today.
GEO, the union representing the University’s 1,700 GSIs, has been locked in contentious bargaining with the University since November. GEO’s twice-extended contract expired on Tuesday morning at midnight, after the University’s negotiating team walked away from the table, leading the group to stage the walkout.
Starting as early as 5 a.m. yesterday at some University construction sites, GSIs marched in circles outside campus buildings like Angell Hall, the C.C. Little Science Building and the Chemistry Building.
GEO Vice President Kiara Vigil, an American Culture GSI, said the walkout showed the University that the union wasn’t willing to settle for a contract that didn’t meet certain criteria.
“We’re showing the University that we’re not happy,” Vigil said. “But that we’re willing to bargain.”
University spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham said the University was disappointed in GEO for walking out.
“We feel it wasn’t necessary for the union to achieve their goals,” she said. “We’ve been bargaining in good faith.”
By creating a picket line at construction sites yesterday morning, GEO members were able to shut down construction projects at Michigan Stadium and the Ross School of Business for the day. Construction workers at those locations agreed not to work in a show of solidarity for their fellow unionized workers.
Cunningham said that University administrators had hoped the work stoppage by GSIs wouldn’t affect the construction progress.
“It was disappointing for the workers who didn’t cross the picket line,” she said. “But it was just one day of work, and we will be able to make up the time.”
Yesterday, GEO officials received a call from the University’s bargaining team saying it was ready to return to the negotiating table. They resumed bargaining at 2:30 p.m.
Cunningham said the two sides returning to the table was “absolutely a great sign.”
“We are ready and willing to get something done,” she said.
A large blue sign reading “Undergrads are for G.E.O.” hung from the fa