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Email to GSIs and GSSAs: Fall expectations for GSIs and GSSAs

The following email was sent to GSIs and GSSAs on August 7, 2023. It is published here for your convenience.

Dear GSIs and GSSAs,

This message is intended for GSIs/GSSAs who had appointments during the 2023 winter and spring/summer terms, as well as those with fall term 2023 appointments currently entered in the HR/payroll system.

Early last week, the university presented union leadership with an offer that included a 20% wage increase over three years with a $1000 bonus in the first year and addressed many concerns voiced by members of the bargaining unit. The offer was intended to get the parties to a final resolution of all terms. Given the imminent arrival of the fall term, this offer was accompanied by a deadline of Friday, August 4 at 4:59 p.m. The union neither accepted nor rejected the offer, and thus it expired. As a result, the offer was withdrawn and the university’s current proposal is its May 12 proposal.  

As we attempt to reach an agreement, ensuring the continuity of education for our students is non-negotiable. A semester that allows our students to pursue their education is an inflexible expectation of our students, their families, deans, university leaders, and the Board of Regents.  While it is the university’s strong desire to reach an agreement with GEO, the events of the past week continue to highlight the need for the university to plan for the possibility that GEO will continue its strike into the fall semester.

In partnership with the Office of the Provost, campus deans have developed and endorsed the following guidelines to support the continuity of instruction in the event of a work stoppage during the Fall 2023 semester. In the interest of transparency, and so that you may make informed decisions in the fall should you be asked to engage in a work stoppage, we are sharing this information with you proactively, and in advance of the start of the term.

The University of Michigan expects that all instructors will fulfill their instructional responsibilities. These responsibilities include, but are not limited to, creating a syllabus and Canvas site for every course, teaching scheduled classes, grading student work, and submitting grades on time. While it is customary to accommodate short term changes in course content and delivery methods due to unanticipated factors such as instructors’ illness or excused absences, instructors are expected to make every effort to deliver instruction to students in a manner and schedule as described in the published course description, syllabus, and class schedule. 

When instructors choose not to fulfill their teaching responsibilities, it disrupts students’ education, damages the quality of instruction, and can cause other harm. This is a serious breach of the trust that our students place in us as educators and in their reliance on the institution to deliver on our educational mission.  Given this context, deans and university leadership are adopting the expectation described below to establish the administrative actions that will be undertaken if GSIs choose not to fulfill their instructional responsibilities in Fall 2023.

Guidelines for GSIs and GSSAs

  • GSIs and GSSAs appointed during Fall 23 will be required to complete weekly online forms attesting that they have completed their work duties, as was expected in April of 2023 and during the Spring/Summer terms.
  • GSIs and GSSAs not fulfilling their job duties will not receive their stipend for any period during which they are not completing their duties. 
  • GSIs who engage in a work stoppage will be subject to replacement for the entire semester if the university hires or assigns another individual to perform their duties, or if the university restructures the course. The person hired or assigned to cover the GSI’s course will not be subject to displacement during the semester. GSIs engaged in the work stoppage will likely be removed from the system as a course instructor and will lose access to the Canvas site(s) for the course.
  • As has been expected since the strike began, GSIs and GSSAs who claim medical leave during the duration of a strike will be required to provide verifiable, written proof from their health care provider of the reason(s) enumerated in Article XIII of the UM|GEO Agreement to substantiate their need to use paid sick time.”
    • Article XIII, Section A of the UM|GEO Agreement provides that a GSI or GSSA is eligible for medical leave pay: [W]hen unable to meet employment obligations because of personal illness, injury, medical appointment, medical procedure, or other disabling medical condition, or because of the illness, injury, medical appointment, medical procedure, or other disabling medical condition of a family member or Other Qualified Adult as that term is defined in Article XI.A. 
    • Medical information submitted through this process will be reviewed only by Human Resources personnel only to determine whether paid medical leave is appropriate.
      • Information will not be shared with other parties or used for any other purpose.
      • HR will inform the individual, and impacted unit, of the status of the claim.

We hope and believe that the university and GEO can reach an agreement on a new contract. 

In the meantime, we must meet our fundamental institutional responsibility to ensure that our students receive the education we have promised and for which they have worked so diligently. 


Laurie K. McCauley
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
William K. and Mary Anne Najjar Professor