University of Michigan takes graduate student workers to court over strike

The University of Michigan has filed an unfair labor practice charge against striking student workers.
Published: Apr. 3, 2023 at 9:23 PM EDT
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WILX) - Graduate students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor went on strike last week over contract negotiations.

The Graduate Employees’ Organization at the university is demanding a living wage and better working conditions. The university is now taking the group to court, filing an unfair labor practice charge on Wednesday. The charge claims that the strike violates Michigan law and the contract between the university and the Graduate Employees’ Organization.

The contract committee chair for the Graduate Employees’ Organization at the University of Michigan, Amir Fleischmann, expressed frustration over the university’s priorities, saying “we’re are really frustrated that the university would rather spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawyers than pay its workers a living wage.”

The two sides have met at the bargaining table to try to negotiate, but the students said they need more money.

“The situation for grad workers is pretty dire. Many of us are struggling to pay rent,” said Fleischmann. “Four out of five of us are considered rent burden by head standards and our workers are simply not going to accept a contract that doesn’t meet our needs.”

The University of Michigan issued a statement to News 10, saying “we strongly believe the best place to resolve differences is at the bargaining table, and the university’s bargaining team has offered to meet as many days as possible to reach an agreement. Our top priority is that our students’ education isn’t disrupted and we continue to carry out our important educational mission.”

The university’s labor agreement with the Graduate Employees’ Organization expires on May 1.

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