Â Jim McAsey – Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) Staff Organizer – [email protected] – 734-995-0221 (office)
WHAT:Â Press conference
WHEN:Â 1pm, Monday 12/19/11
WHERE:Â Lobby of the Administrative Services Building, University of Michigan (1009 Greene St. Ann Arbor)Â Directions.
WHO:Â Parents’ Caucus of the Graduate Employees’ Union, AFT #3550
WHY:Â As part of contract negotiations last year between GEO and UM, a committee was created of GEO members and UM administrators to evaluate the childcare subsidy policy for graduate employee parents.Â $150,000 was allotted to implement recommendations made by this committee. Â Unfortunately, the administrators’ are dragging their feet â€“ they have not presented any ideas or data to move this process forward. They have nearly missed one meeting and cancelled the next, which was supposed to be at the time we are holding this press conference. Â GEO finds UMâ€™s lack of commitment to thisÂ committee and to the needs of graduate worker parents unacceptable.
The Graduate Employees’ Organization (umgeo.org) is the labor union representing ~1,800 Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) and Graduate Student Staff Assistants (GSSAs) at the University of Michigan.Â GEO was founded in 1970 and we won our first contract in 1975, making GEO the oldest certified graduate employee union in the United States.
Tuesday’s decision by MERC to order an expedited hearing to determine the facts regarding GSRAs’ status as employees made the news around the state, and a national publication profiled the campaign and how a union would affect the lives and work of science grad researchers. Check out the links below for more info, or to comment on them.
The Graduate Employees Organization is pleased by todayâ€™s Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) decision to order a hearingâ€”expected to takeplace in January 2012–in the case of GEOâ€™s election petition for Graduate StudentÂ Research Assistants (GSRAs) at the University of Michigan.
â€œWeâ€™re gratified that weâ€™re going to have the opportunity to prove that the GSRAsÂ are employees with the right to vote,â€ said GEO President Samantha Montgomery, aÂ graduate student in psychology and womenâ€™s studies.
GEO filed an election petitionâ€”with signed membership cards from a majority ofÂ GSRAsâ€”in April 2011.
â€œWe just want the right to vote,â€ said Christie Toth, a GSRA in the Sweetland CenterÂ for Writing at UM. â€œItâ€™s up to employees whether to form a union.â€
GEO, an affiliate of AFT Michigan, is the labor union representing approximatelyÂ 1800 graduate teaching and staff assistants at UM. GEO is the second-oldestÂ graduate employee union in the United States, having won its first contract in 1975
Yesterday, a lawyer representing the Graduate Employeesâ€™ Organization at the University filed a legal brief, continuing the struggle of GEO to get a vote on Graduate Student Research Assistant unionization.
The brief was in response to a motion filed on Nov. 29 by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, in which he described his intent to intervene at the Michigan Employment Relations Commissionâ€™s meeting on Dec. 13. At the meeting, the commission will decide whether to allow the vote on GSRA unionization.
The brief filed yesterday by GEOâ€™s lawyer Mark Cousens, claims Schuette should not be allowed to intervene at the meeting and that his request should be â€œpromptly and decisively denied.â€
â€œAllowing intervention for the reasons proffered by the AG would cause chaos and compromise the Constitutional autonomy of the University of Michigan Board of Regents,â€ the brief stated.
Hi, Iâ€™m Jeremy Moore, and I am a Graduate Student Research Assistant in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at the University of Michigan.
I support the union for GSRAs because I believe that research assistants at U of M are employees, and as employees, we have a right to negotiate the terms of our employment with the university, just like GSIs already do.
Recently, outside political organizations have been trying to stop our election. I feel that this is unfair and inappropriate, and that the decision to form a union should be left up to a democratic election, free of intimidation or interference.
With all these outside groups attacking our rights, I’d like to specifically urge GSRAs to get involved: Â Share this video on facebook, visit us at gsracampaign.org, and come with us to the MERC [Michigan Employment Relations Commission] hearing on December 13th.