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U of M grad student employee union votes to extend strike for 5 more days

Caroline Llanes
Michigan Radio

Members of the Graduate Employees' Organization (GEO) at the University of Michigan voted to renew their strike in protest of the school's COVID-19 reopening plans. The union has been on strike since Tuesday of last week, and that strike expired on Friday. The renewed strike will last five more days, and expire on Friday, September 18, unless an offer is put forward by the university and approved by union members.

The union's list of demands are split into two categories: one related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the other dedicated to anti-policing demands. The COVID-19 list includes the universal right for grad student employees to work remotely, greater transparency for testing and contact tracing plans, and extensions to degree timelines in funding. They're also asking the school to sever ties with the Ann Arbor Police Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The university made the union an offer on Tuesday, which members voted to reject. U of M has not made GEO an offer since. 80% of voting members voted to extend the strike in a vote that took place online over the course of the weekend. The university also filed an unfair labor practice charge against the union with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC). The charge alleges that GEO is in violation of its contract with U of M and asks MERC to order the union to cease and desist with its strike. 

Other groups on campus have expressed their support for GEO's strike. A letter circulated by the faculty in support of the strike has over 600 signatures. In addition, the faculty senate will meet Wednesday, and items on the agenda include votes of no confidence in President Mark Schlissel and U of M's COVID-19 reopening plans. U of M resident advisors, who are also on strike, as well as dining hall employees, and students seeking representation on the board of regents have also expressed their support for the work stoppage.

A spokesperson from U of M could not be reached for comment.

Editor's note: The University of Michigan hold's Michigan Radio's license.

Caroline is a third year history major at the University of Michigan. She also works at The Michigan Daily, where she has been a copy editor and an opinion columnist. When she’s not at work, you can find her down at Argo Pond as a coxswain for the Michigan men’s rowing team. Caroline loves swimming, going for walks, being outdoors, cooking, trivia, and spending time with her two-year-old cat, Pepper.
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