Both the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News are reporting that the roughly 1,000 member Graduate Employee Organization (GEO) at the University of Michigan (UM) has voted in favor of a strike against what members of the union say are unsafe working conditions in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Strikers will face an uphill battle as a new contract was just ratified in April and public sector strikes are illegal in Michigan, School officials are already speaking out against the action to the press claiming that it violates the terms of the contract that prevent GEO members from interfering with University business.
GEO points to the ongoing pandemic and the summer's uprisings against police brutality as evidence that, while a contract was agreed to in April, there are new issues that need agreement between the union and the university. Among the unions demands are calls for greater flexibility in how graduate students are able to conduct their work, including remote instruction, increased testing, and contract tracing. There are also calls for greater support for international students, ending university cooperation with police, and extensions on degree completion.