The GTFF stands in solidarity with striking graduate employees from the Graduate Employee Organization (GEO) at the University of Michigan (UM). GEO is on strike because of UM’s inability to appropriately and responsibly address COVID-19 health, safety, and financial concerns, in addition to their refusal to adopt GEO’s anti-policing demands, which include disarming and demilitarizing police, defunding their Division of Public Safety and Security by 50% of their budget, and demanding U-M cut all ties to police and ICE. Not only has the UM administration repeatedly failed to meet GEO’s demands, they have recently filed an injunction to end the strike.
From GEO: “University administration has been sending numerous emails promising ‘listening’ and ‘engagement.’ On Sunday morning, GEO leadership had a positive meeting with representatives of the University, and we were hopeful about continuing productive negotiations. We’re disappointed that President Schlissel has chosen to immediately abandon these promises in favor of trying to shut down our strike by brute force.”
Not only has COVID-19 put student workers at risk, it has created additional legal and financial barriers for international students and parents in particular. Additionally, campus policing policies as well as the University of Michigan’s ties to the Ann Arbor police department decrease student safety and security even further, particularly for BIPOC students. These brave graduate students are fighting against institutionalized white supremacy in higher education and demonstrating a deep commitment toward an abolitionist future by putting one of their most valuable assets on the line — their labor power.
At the University of Oregon, we find ourselves facing similar issues. While UO has done extensive planning to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, their measures fail to adequately address and mitigate the tangible dangers to both students and employees. We stand in solidarity with our fellow workers, and call for the University of Michigan to meet the demands of GEO immediately, so that workers can return to their positions safely and confidently. In addition to a donation to their strike fund, we will continue to support GEO’s efforts through actions like their virtual picket sessions.
Find out more about GEO’s demands here.
Interested in helping GEO’s cause? Sign up for a virtual picket session here!