Tuesday, March 25, 2008

U-M graduate student instructors hit the pickets today

University of Michigan graduate student instructors took to the picket lines this morning, unable to reach a contract resolution with the University.

Grad students want a NINE percent raise in the first year of the contract while U-M has countered with a 3 percent offer. Grad students also want summer stipends for when school is out.

This is part of a two day walkout on the U-M campus and grad student teachers are vowing not to teach their classes.

OK, first off, student teachers, NINE percent in the first year? Do you live in the borough of Oz? Hell we'd ALL love a 9% raise. Ridiculous, try again. Wait, AND you want to be paid while there is no school in session? Don't people denigrate the jobs bank program for the UAW for this reason? You want guaranteed money for not teaching? Maybe you should sit in on an economics class if you think that's how the world should work. You already get full medical and dental and over 15K a year plus a full tuition waiver.

As for U-M, stop being so goddamned chintzy. You're sitting on a 7 billion dollar endowment and the only time you want to spend money is on the football stadium or building new buildings. Maybe you've heard PEOPLE make up a university, not a stadium. You cannot educate a building. A football stadium will not read your doctoral thesis.

A pox on both their houses this morning.


eric said...

GEO walks out for 2-3 days in every contract negotiation. They think they need to, to make UM take them seriously -- and I agree.

I haven't been following the current negotiations with any particular attention, so I won't comment on the various proposals, but my sympathies are firmly with the GEO.

(Disclosure: I was a member of GEO when I taught at UM.)

Johnny Action Space Punk said...

That's cool Eric. I had seen them walk out before and wondered why U-M constantly cried poor with educators. I think the 9% was a bit much for a first year jump and wonder about them getting paid when classes are not in session over the summer.

I will honor a picket however.

eric said...

I did a minor amount of poking around, and the 9% number (which I am in no position to evaluate) appears to me to be based on the failure of the previous contract to keep pace with increases in the cost of living.

(Personally, I expect it'll be reduced in any final agreement, probably in exchange for better medical coverage for mental health problems.)

I don't think the two sides are all that far apart -- in my opinion, a lot of the current walkout is about strategic posturing, not material differences between UM and GEO.

Specifically, UM wanted to force GEO to prove they had the support of their membership -- which they clearly do.

However, GEO is under some time pressure -- if they don't get a new contract before the end of April, many of their members will scatter for Spring/Summer, dramatically reducing the amount of bodies GEO could bring to bear in a labor dispute.

Johnny Action Space Punk said...

Eric--I saw they had basically agreed on the last couple years of the contract and were haggling about the first year raise. I also figured 9% was a high number expected to be halved in serious discussions. 9% right out of the box did seem a bit much.

U-M are chintzy like I said. Not to their top dogs, just to everyone else