By Sophia Corso
The Graduate Employees’ Organization at UMich– a labor union that represents graduate student instructors and staff assistants at the university– took to Twitter this week to demand significant pay raises in addition to “transgender healthcare” benefits and an unarmed campus security force.
The union posted pictures of its members and allies picketing outside of a building in which University President Santa J. Ono and Vice Provost & Chief Diversity Officer Tabbye M. Chavous were presenting a report on the university’s diversity, equity, and inclusion projects throughout the past year. Despite the public institution’s allocation of more than $85 million towards ongoing efforts to comply with the Left’s destructive DEI agenda since 2019, these student employees apparently want more.
“There can be no DEI [at the University of Michigan] when some of their lowest paid employees, i.e. grad workers are making ~ 62% below the living wage,” the group stated.
2/7 GEO members and allies showed up at the event location, sharing with attendees how GEO contract proposals would make the University far more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. GEO members propose a living wage ($38,500) for grad workers. But, that's not all. pic.twitter.com/RO7Wd0swfA— Grad Employees' Org UMich (@geo3550) January 11, 2023
According to a report by the school paper, graduate student employees are paid an average salary of $24,050 and receive either $13,000 or $26,000 (dependent on state residency status) in tuition benefits for between 16 and 20 hours of work per week, eight months of the year. The hourly rate of pay works out to roughly $40 per hour– and that’s not even accounting for the generous tuition benefit. If the university complies with the union’s demands, the average graduate student employee would make around $60 per hour.
The cost of living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is only five percent higher than the national average. It’s unclear where the union is getting the idea that its members are under-compensated. If anything, they’re being overpaid.
The union also demanded that the university fulfill other leftist demands, including “barrier-free transgender healthcare” for student workers through the university’s medical system and “funding for an unarmed, community-oriented emergency response team.”
“Our contract proposals make it clear that GEO members are united in our commitment to making grad school accessible to ALL,” GEO stated in the Twitter thread. “Over the past 2 months, hundreds of grad workers have attended contract negotiations. We call on UMich HR to come to the bargaining table with their counteroffers. Enough is enough, [University of Michigan].”
The Young Democratic Socialists of America group on campus voiced its support for the union’s efforts.
*seeking an end to unionbusting from UM admin and an agreement to open, accessible bargaining sessions that allow for all grad workers to attend as @geo3550 fights for not only pay but also trans healthcare, child coverage, non-police crisis response, among other demands https://t.co/2MkqwG4kiR— YDSA🌹 @ U〽️ich ON STRIKE WITH GEO (@YDSAUMich) January 11, 2023
Charles Hilu, chairman of the Young Americans for Freedom chapter at UMich, believes that the union’s requests are unreasonable: “The University of Michigan should not listen to this ridiculous request,” he told YAF. “Their demands exemplify the unfortunate state that public-sector unions are in right now. Rather than making reasonable demands that will be beneficial to their members, they often serve as vehicles for a left-wing political agenda that disadvantages students.”