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Email to students: Important information regarding ongoing labor negotiations at U-M

The following email was sent to undergraduate students on March 25, 2023. It is published here for your convenience.

Dear Undergraduate Student Members of Our U-M Community:

As you may be aware, the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO), which is the union that represents Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) and Graduate Student Staff Assistants (GSSAs), has authorized a strike. At this time, we do not know when a strike might begin or how long it will last. If a strike is called, GEO members may choose not to teach, thereby impacting classes in which you are enrolled.

We remain steadfast in our commitment to our mission to deliver world-class education and we recognize the essential contributions GSIs and GSSAs make to that mission. We are disappointed that GEO has decided to take this step, which is unnecessary for us to come to an agreement about a new contract. It is also a breach of the current contract signed by GEO and the university, as well as contrary to Michigan law. The university’s and GEO’s negotiators have many weeks left to negotiate before the union’s current contract expires on May 1.

I want to highlight four items of importance to undergraduate students, if there is a strike:

  1. Classes and instruction will continue to the fullest extent possible. One of U-M’s priorities is to ensure continuity of education. Faculty, staff, and administrators have been working to ensure that you continue to receive instruction and instructional support. In some cases, that may not be possible. You should be hearing from your instructors about how your classes will proceed, and you may also reach out to your department, school, or college for that information.
  2. The university will ensure that you receive accurate grades for your coursework. While there may be some delays in reporting grades, you can expect grades that reflect your work throughout the semester.
  3. Graduating seniors will be able to participate in graduation ceremonies. Even if there are delays in grade reporting, you can plan to fully enjoy your commencement activities.
  4. Good faith bargaining will continue. The university has been and will continue to bargain in good faith with graduate student employees, who are vital members of our community. You can read updates on negotiations on the University Human Resources website.

Our school, college, and department leaders are planning for substitute instructors, alternative assignments, and other means for delivering instruction in the absence of graduate student instructors.  Providing a high-quality educational experience for every student remains our top priority.

We are aware that some of you might have received messages from GEO or others that could cause confusion or be construed as encouraging you to take actions to support their strike.  We also recognize and understand that some of you might be supportive of the job action. It is important to know that no one may require or pressure you to participate in, or not participate in, union activity. Grades, course credit, or extra credit may not be conditioned on supporting or participating in union activities.

If you have any questions or concerns about the impact of this strike on your learning, please contact your department, school, or college.


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