The University Record, March 25, 2002

GEO ratification vote under way

By Julie Peterson
Office of the Vice President for Communications

GEO picket signs were used only once, during a daylong walkout March 11. The settlement averted a longer strike. (Photo by Bill Wood, U-M Photo Services)
A tentative agreement between the University and the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) is now in the hands of the 1,600 graduate students represented by the union. The two bargaining teams reached agreement March 16, after which a ratification vote was initiated by union membership. The mail process should be completed in a just over a week.

A number of issues were resolved in bargaining sessions that began last October, with child care the last point to be settled. Under the agreement, the University will increase awards available for support of child care expenses for graduate student instructors (GSIs) and graduate student staff assistants (GSSAs) under the Child Subsidy Program to $1,700 for the first child and $850 for the second and third child, per semester. That is an increase from award amounts of $1,000 and $500 per semester. Students must meet income eligibility criteria and use licensed childcare providers.

In addition, the University and GEO signed a memorandum of understanding about child care that commits to an implementation committee working to carry out the recommendations of a Rackham-CEW task force. GEO will appoint three members of that committee. The Provost has committed at least $150,000 per year over three years to support the implementation of the recommendations on availability and affordability of child care, as guided by the work of the committee.

Other highlights of the contract include:

  • Wage increases over a three-year period that are equal to the average LS&A faculty salary increase, minus 0.5 percent, in the first year of the contract, and equal to the LS&A average in years two and three.

  • Salaries of graduate student staff assistants (GSSAs) in the Library will rise to 80 percent of the salaries of graduate student instructors (GSIs) in the second year of the contract and 85 percent of GSI wages in the third year.

  • Increased tuition grants for low-fraction employees, those working .05 to.20 percent of a full-time position.

  • Options for GSIs appointed at fractions below .25 to buy Grad Care health insurance by paying their own premiums. They also may buy dental coverage after one year of employment, consistent with the time frame for dental coverage for other University employees.

  • A lump sum stipend of $270 per term for GSIs appointed at fractions below .25.

  • Use of sick time for the care of ill family members for all GSIs and GSSAs, consistent with family care time provided to other U-M employees.

    The contract also addresses limits and requirements for the training of GSIs, defines harassment and discrimination, and details an expedited grievance procedure for handling harassment complaints. More information on these and other provisions of the new contract can be found on the Web at www.umich.edu/~urel/gsi-sa/negotiations.html.