GEOC Statement of Solidarity with Graduate Employees’ Organization 3550 On Strike!
We, Graduate Employees' Organizing Committee AFT 6123 (Wayne State University), stand in fervent solidarity with our striking union brothers, sisters, and non-binary siblings as they fight for the rights and dignity of graduate workers everywhere in the face of oppression, austerity, systemic racism, and dangerously rushed reopening policies adopted by UM administration and leadership. We will continue to, unapologetically, stand and fight alongside them in support of their just and righteous cause until such a time that UM recognizes workers’ right to a job safety and dignity and demonstrates as much by bargaining in good faith with GEO AFT 3550 #StrikeForSafeCampus #SafetyFirst #WorkRemotely #UMMakesUsSick
We also proudly support UM RA (Resident Advisors) on strike as they face dangerous working conditions, with no union protection and pathetically minimal support from UM leadership, when any is provided at all.
This strike is a reaction to universities, like the University of Michigan, putting income before the safety and wellbeing of their entire campus community. Jeff Lockhart, 6th year PhD candidate in sociology at the University of Michigan and occasional strike organizer wrote,
Personally, I think that the decision to resume college football says a lot about the priorities of universities. Football brings in money, and big donors care about being entertained. Players are employees who deserve a union and real pay. I amd many GEO members I know are glad that players get to work in conditions where they have access to regular testing of not only themselves, but the others in their work environment. We are glad that they get to work "remotely," that is, distanced from their audiences. Graduate students and Resident Assistants at UM are on strike right now asking for those very same things, and the university is making severe legal threats against us instead of giving us safety in our work conditions. Faculty, staff, undergraduates, dining hall workers who are protesting and tried to walk out but were intimidated out of it, all want the same things in our working conditions. It is disappointing that the university tells us they do not have testing capacity for the rest of us, but they do for athletics. Athletics deserve that protection and testing. But They get it while we do not because they are popular with wealthy men (that's who watched football) outside our university. I cannot officially make a statement on behalf of all GEO on short notice, but I believe many, many of our members would agree with what I have written.
After their longest strike since 1975, GEO AFT 3550 came to an agreement with UM administration on September 16th. The agreement was a historic win for GEO and reflects growing support for graduate workers around the country during Covid 19.