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Fact-finding session between University of Michigan and GEO canceled

hatcher graduate library geo strike
Caroline Llanes
Michigan Radio

A second fact-finding session between the University of Michigan and the graduate student workers union has been canceled. The meeting, run by the Michigan Employment Relations Commission was meant to provide a neutral, state-appointed “fact-finder” to review the issues and work out the parties biggest disputes. Now, the university and the union are being asked to submit a written brief of their positions. The commission is expected to release their recommendations in September.

Many graduate students have been on strike since March 29.

Without a new contract, the GEO will decide if they will continue their strike into the fall semester based on their previous contract and current bargaining agreements.

Lina Alam is the communications co-chair of GEO.

“As grad workers we will vote on what our next steps are," Alam said. "Whether we think any package at hand suits our needs or not, and so that's what would determine whether we strike or not in the fall,”

In an email, Alam explained that GEO does not expect the fact-finding session to affect the union's decision to strike.

“During the session, the state-appointed mediator explained that he couldn't solve this dispute," Alam said. "Rather, he urged both parties to meet at the bargaining table and negotiate in good faith.”

The union has proposed a 60% wage increase in the first year of its three-year contract, with supplemental increases to accommodate inflation. In the most recent proposal, the university offered a total 12.5% raise dispersed over three years for graduate students in Ann Arbor. Students on the universities Flint and Dearborn campus’ were offered a total 6.75% raise dispersed over the same period.

“At the moment, I think I can speak on behalf of many grad workers when I say that we don't feel that what we have achieved in bargaining, which is several things, is enough and that it meets enough of our needs,” Alam said.

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

Taylor Bowie is a senior studying English Literature at the University of Michigan and an intern in the Michigan Radio newsroom. She is originally from Owosso, Michigan.
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