The University Record, May 7, 1996

GEO membership ratifies contract; negotiations set records for number, length

By Rebecca A. Doyle

Members of the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) voted overwhelmingly to accept a three-year contract that Associate Director for Academic Human Resources Daniel A. Gamble says makes more changes to the original agreement than any other contract in GEO history.

"In this case," Gamble says, "there were almost as many memoranda changes as there were changes to the body of the contract.

"This is unusual, but it speaks to the concerns of the GEO group. They are very conscious of social issues that didn't fit within the body of the contract, but were important enough to be added in a memorandum."

Those changes include a joint committee on graduate student pedagogy, which began meeting even before the con tract was finalized, and a jointly chaired committee on equal opportunity and affirmative action issues that will begin reviewing the composition of Graduate Student Instructors (GSI) in various departments and comparing the GSI population with the composition of the student body.

An agreement was reached on compensation, one of the main issues for both the University and GSIs, that Gamble termed a "nice compromise." The agreement sets wage increases at the same rate as the average increase rate for faculty, but also states that it cannot be lower than 2.5 percent.

"The final agreement is the culmination of a lot of work by a lot of people," Gamble says. "It is nice to have it done."

Gamble also credited the state mediator, Charles Jamerson, for keeping the level of talks calm and reasonable, even after hours of negotiation. Marathon bargaining sessions for this contract negotiation set a record in the U-M's history for the number of sessions---36---and the number of proposals brought to the table---36.