UM grad assistant strike to continue into a second week
A judge has refused a request to shut down a strike by roughly 2,200 University of Michigan graduate workers.
Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Carol Kuhnke ruled Tuesday that the university failed to prove “irreparable harm” will result if the strike continues into a second week. Instead, she set another hearing for Monday to hear evidence and determine whether to issue a court order.
Outside the courthouse, hundreds of union members and supporters held a rally to support the strike.
Brian Geiringer is a 3rd year master’s student. He said the university can’t operate without graduate workers.
“We have the power in numbers and we deserve a living wage,” he said. “We deserve a safe campus. We deserve trans health care. We deserve all these things, and U of M can afford it so easily and, instead, we’re having to show them how important we are, actually, to the university infrastructure.”
The union has a lengthy list of demands, including higher wages, more paid leave and childcare subsidies, limiting cooperation with federal immigration enforcement authorities, and better access to transgender healthcare services.
The university said many of the demands fall outside the union’s purview of bargaining on wages and other compensation and working conditions.
A U of M attorney called the union’s strategy a plan to cause “maximum possible destruction.”
U of M spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the existing contract, which doesn’t expire until May 1, forbids strikes. He also said the walkout “has contributed, created unnecessary disruption for students on our campus, primarily our undergraduate students.” The university said it’s unfair to students who late in this term need to take exams and get work graded in time to graduate.
There are also complaints from both sides pending before a state labor board.