Members of the Graduate Employees Organization, the union representing some graduate student employees at the University of Michigan, have ratified a new three-year contract with the university.
GEO on Friday reported an overwhelming vote to ratify the agreement, reached April 10 after five month of negotiations. The new contract takes effect May 1.
Employees in the GEO bargaining unit work as either graduate student instructors or as graduate student staff assistants. There are approximately 1,970 GSIs and 42 GSSAs on the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses.
The contract improves upon one of the top compensation packages in higher education nationally for graduate student instructors. The new contract provides annual salary increases of 3.35 percent, 3.35 percent and 3.3 percent on the Ann Arbor and Dearborn campuses. GSIs on the Flint campus will get a 4.8 percent increase in the first year of the contract.
“This is a fair contract that recognizes the important contributions that GEO members make as part of the community of scholars on our three campuses,” said Melissa Sortman, associate director of academic human resources and lead negotiator for the university. “We will now work closely with University Human Resources and the schools and colleges to implement the terms.”
GEO members will continue to get health care coverage at no cost, including new limits on co-pays for mental health services.
Paid parental leave for a birth mother will increase from six to eight weeks, and leave time for a second parent or for adoption will increase from three to six weeks. Bereavement leave will increase from three to five days.
“We’re very happy to have reached an agreement that will mean real improvements in the lives of graduate employees. We’ll continue working to help make sure the new contract is implemented smoothly and fairly,” said GEO President John Ware.
The 2017-20 contract provides for six new GSSA positions that will be filled by graduate students doing academically relevant work in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion. These new GSSA positions will be created within the Rackham Graduate School in collaboration with the Office of Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion.
The contract also addresses the importance of a diverse teaching staff and work restrictions for international graduate student instructors.