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Graduate employees reject U of M's offer, will continue to strike

Caroline Llanes
Michigan Radio
GEO organizers and supporters have been on strike since Tuesday.

The Graduate Employees' Organization overwhelmingly voted to reject an offer from the University of Michigan late Wednesday night. 

GEO has been on strike since Tuesday, canceling classes for thousands of undergraduate students. The strike is set to end Friday, but could be extended.

The union's demands include transparent and robust testing, contact tracing, and safety plans for campus; better support for international students, caregivers, and instructors that wish to switch from hybrid/in-person class to remote; and a number of anti-police policies, including severing ties with the Ann Arbor Police Department.

Negotiations between union and the university have been underway since Tuesday. The university's offer gave some concessions on demands, such as more leniency for caregivers and more transparency on COVID testing methods. It did not address the union's anti-policing demands.

According to the union, over 1,250 members voted on the measure and an overwhelming majority chose to reject the university's offer.

In a statement to The Michigan Daily, University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said, “We are disappointed and will carefully consider our next steps tomorrow.”

If the university's offer had been accepted, the union would have been guaranteed no retaliation. Now, the university may act on threats to sue GEO for damages related to the work stoppage and eliminate payroll deductions for union dues. 

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

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Emma is a communications specialist with the digital team at Michigan Radio. She works across all departments at Michigan Radio, with a hand in everything from digital marketing and fundraising to graphic design and website maintenance. She also produces the station's daily newsletter, The Michigan Radio Beat.
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