Tax season is upon us! Are you wondering about what needs to be reported as income and the possible income tax consequences of fellowships, graduate assistantships, and federal financial aid? Are you an international student with questions about what type of tax return to file and what deductions you may be eligible for? FREE HELP IS AVAILABLE!


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Summer Tuition Waiver Pool

Teaching Assistants needing additional credits for the Summer 2015 semester should apply for the Tuition Waiver pool . Applications are due by 5 pm on Wednesday, April 8, 2015.

If you are a teaching assistant this coming summer (2015) your tuition waiver will cover 5 credit hours.  If you need to take additional credits, you are not out of luck, though!

During GEU’s contract bargaining with the university, GEU negotiated for 200 extra tuition waiver credits for our TAs to use.  So, if you need to take more than 5 summer credit hours, be sure to take advantage of this opportunity. Click on the following link for details:

GTA Tuition Waiver Pool Application and Details

Keep in mind, once you are awarded extra tuition waiver credits, they cannot be awarded to someone else.  So please be responsible and courteous to your fellow TAs when you apply.

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GEU is hiring!

GEU is hiring a full-time Union Organizer

Graduate Employees’ Union (GEU), AFT Michigan Local 6196, a union of approximately 1,400 graduate student employees at Michigan State University, seeks to hire a full-time (40hrs/week) union organizer who will focus primarily on internal membership organizing.

Candidates should have strong one-on-one organizing skills, experience working with diverse populations, and be committed to fostering a participatory and progressive labor movement. The GEU Organizer reports to the union’s elected, volunteer executive board.

The target start date for the position is February 15, though this is negotiable. Salary is approximately $45,000/year (negotiable with commensurate experience), plus health, dental, and vision insurance, vacation days, and mileage when work-related travel outside of the Lansing area is necessary.

The GEU is:
· A collaborative work environment structured around a team of volunteer, member-activists that meets regularly to determine and realize the objectives of the union.
· Committed to organizing around issues that affect members in their workplace, and to organizing around social justice issues more broadly.
· Allied with local labor councils, community, and student groups, and participates in local labor and social justice mobilizing.

Job Duties:
· Recruit and train active GEU members into leadership positions.
· Increase GEU involvement by activating new members through office visits, home visits, departmental events, membership meetings, work actions, campaigns, etc.
· Help plan and implement campaigns, actions, and GEU events.
· Help maintain accurate records of union activities, members, databases, etc.
· Help with the development of materials necessary for union communications, press, and publicity.
· Help members with the grievance procedure and contract enforcement.

· Strong one-on-one organizing skills.
· Ability to work independently, to facilitate group interactions, and to mentor others.
· Ability to engage and support a diverse membership with different identities including but not limited to race, gender, class, sexuality, ability, and nationality, as well as varying political orientation, awareness, and experience.
· Ability to manage time and coordinate multiple projects in a fast-paced environment.
· Demonstrated ability to envision and realize long-term goals.
· Ability to innovate, improve, and build on institutional memory and practices according to current needs.
· Ability and willingness to work evenings and weekends as needed.
· Experience working with word processing software, spreadsheets, databases, and social media platforms.
· Ability to lift up to 40 pounds and walk up stairs.

Preferred Qualifications:
· Internal organizing experience, especially in higher education.
· Experience organizing job actions and contract campaigns.
· Experience as a staff member in a volunteer-run organization.
· Experience in the labor movement.
· Experience and history of coalitional work with a variety of labor and non-labor organizations.
· Familiarity with grievance processes and contract language.
· Experience working with press and local media outlets.
· Competence in a wide variety of software applications, including QuickBooks, Salsa, and MS Access.

Application Process:
Please submit a single PDF file with last name as the first part of the filename (i.e. smith_application.pdf) containing a cover letter, resume, contact information for three references, and contact information to Sylvia Marques ( In order to ensure full consideration, application materials must be received by January 11, 2015. Applications will be considered after this date on a case-by-case basis.

GEU provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, GEU complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment. This applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, termination, layoff, leaves of absence, compensation and training.

GEU expressly prohibits any form of workplace harassment based on race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, genetic information, disability, or veteran status.

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Stewards Council Meeting

Stewards Council Meeting, Tuesday, Dec. 9 at 5pm. Location TBD. Dinner provided!

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Ask T.A. Dan (Ta-dahhh-n!): Workspace Issues

Dear TA Dan,

I wanted to gripe about my office space. While I see some TAs in other departments have access to their own work desks, bookcases, and filing cabinets they got us packed in like sardines in one little room! There’s barely enough room to move around when we’re all in here, much less hold office hours for our students. What’s up with that? More importantly, is there anything I can do about it?


Squeezed in South Kedzie


Dear Squeezed,

Of course there is something you can do about it! Never underestimate the power of collective action!  While we don’t have specific language in the contract for how much office space each graduate student should have, your employing unit is required to arrange access to work space for you for the performance of your T.A. duties. Moreover, it is one of our responsibilities as TAs to hold regular office hours. We need to be able to hold confidential meetings should our students want to discuss private information like grades.

Talk with your fellow TAs in the department about the issue. If you are having a problem, they probably are too. If you and your fellow TAs feel that your office space is not adequate to do your jobs well, please speak with your supervisor or chair right away! They want you to be able to do your job well and will likely be receptive to your concerns.  Since space allocation decisions get made at the college level, be cognizant that they might not be able to resolve the issue at the departmental level. Contact the GEU, and we will help you set up a meeting with all of the relevant parties. We have recently had great success in increasing office space for teaching assistants in Statistics, and we are currently working with African American and African Studies TAs to improve their work spaces.

Yours truly,

TA Dan

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Stewards Council 2014

Interested in representing yourself, your colleagues and your department? Become a GEU Department Steward!

Stewards are an integral and important part of our ability to assist our members.  Stewards, once trained, function as union member representatives at work. The steward training is designed to prepare members to recognize potential grievances and investigate and represent bargaining unit members in lower-level grievance hearings and investigatory meetings. Stewards are GEU members who represent GEU and fellow members in their MSU departments.

Being a steward involves a bit more responsibility than just being a member, but the satisfaction of knowing you’ve made a big difference in someone’s life makes it worthwhile.

If you want to know more about how your contract works, how to interpret contract language, what constitutes a grievance, how to deal with management, how to investigate a possible grievance  or what rights you have in the workplace as a union member, Stewards Council is for you!

An active group of members can make the difference between having power and being powerless!

Click on the Flyer below for the full schedule of meeting dates and times.

2014 Stews Flyer


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MSU agrees to pay owed wages from summer 2013 (Finally.) MSU PAST DUE 4Thank you to everyone who worked so hard for so long to make this happen: two years of meetings, petitions, rallies and events but we prevailed in the end. Thank you to everyone who helped us secure this important victory. Solidarity at Work!


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Ask T.A. Dan (Ta-dahhh-n!), Our Newest Advice Columnist!

Hi Ta-Dan!

I just realized I forgot to enroll my partner in our health-care plan this year. Is it too late? How do I do it? Do I have to pay the whole premium for the year up front? Help!


Frantic Fran

Hey Fran,

It’s not too late, but the deadline for enrollment is right around the corner. You have until SEPTEMBER 30 to enroll your spouses, dependents, or OEI in your health plan. You can enroll your spouse or dependent online at this link for enrolling dependents. You have the option of enrolling on a quarterly, semester, or annual basis. It is important to remember the dates of enrollment if you choose the quarterly or semester options because AETNA will not remind you when you will need to re-enroll your spouse or dependents for the next quarter or semester. Here are the various enrollment deadlines for different periods of coverage:

Coverage Period                                                        Application Deadline

Annual (8/15/13 – 8/14/14)                                          September 30, 2013

Fall Semester (8/15/13 – 2/14/14)                              September 30, 2013

Spring Semester (2/15/14 – 8/14/14)                        February 15, 2014

Quarter 1 (8/15/13 – 11/14/13)                                    September 30, 2013

Quarter 2 (11/15/13 – 2/14/14)                                   November 15, 2013

Quarter 3 (2/15/14 – 5/11/14)                                     February 15, 2014

Quarter 4 (5/12/14 – 8/14/14)                                    June 30, 2014

It’s best to initially enroll your dependent(s) using the computers in the Human Resources Benefit Office in the Nisbet Building (1407 S. Harrison Rd., Suite 140A) where there are people to assist you, especially if you intend to enroll an OEI because it requires the filing of an extra paper form.

As always don’t hesitate to contact MSU Benefits at 517-353-4434 and/or us should any problems arise.

In Solidarity,


[If you have your  own question, query, quibble, or quandary for TaDan!, please fire off a email his way to!]

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MSU TAs Shorted Hundreds of Dollars of Pay

MSU has decided to short many of our members on several hundred dollars worth of pay. Several hundred dollars is a large amount to most people, but when almost all of us make well under $20,000 each year a cut of this amount from our paychecks is critical to our wellbeing.

Most graduate students who were teaching assistants over the summer are affected by this pay cut. During our most recent contract negotiations with MSU, the university wanted to change the summer teaching appointment period. We worked with MSU to make sure the dates of the summer appointment period accurately reflected when summer work occurred. Because of this, there was a three-day overlap between the spring appointment period and the summer appointment period. For those three days, if a teaching assistant had both a spring appointment and a summer appointment, MSU maintains that it is only obliged to pay those TAs for one of the jobs. Stipend rates vary from department to department, but losing these for days of summer pay amounts to around $200. With 330 TAs in this situation, that is approximately $66,000 that MSU is withholding from grad student paychecks. Similarly, there is a four-day overlap between the summer and fall appointment periods that MSU does not want to pay TAs for either.

GEU has been working with MSU since last year on this issue. Recently, we met with the university, thought this issue was settled, and that summer TAs would be paid properly. Two weeks later, with no explanation whatsoever, the university declined to do so. This lack of recognition for the work that we do is unacceptable.

GEU always fights for TAs, and we intend to do what it takes to make sure our members receive the compensation that they deserve and that the university agreed to pay them. While this is unfolding, there are several things you can do to help. First, if you had a teaching assistantship in the summer and another assistantship in the spring term, please contact us and let us know how this affects you. We can also help answer questions about exactly how much pay you are missing. Just email . Also, everyone can go to the following link to sign a petition to let MSU know that what they are doing is not right: . The more of us the university hears from, the sooner this matter will be resolved.

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Not getting paid?

If you’re not getting paid, there are several things you can do to rectify the situation.

1) Contact the Graduate Employees Union! Just email us at . We’re here to help you through situations like this!

2) Speak the the administrative assistant of your employing department. Often they can get the process moving, but sometimes they can’t, can’t in a timely manner, or something else is causing a problem.

3) Contact payroll. Sometimes paperwork can get back logged, and they can help move things more quickly or even potentially cut you a handwritten check.

4) File a complaint with the state at . That may sound drastic, but it is a mechanism the university has recommended that TAs use in order to get the money they are owed, and it helps more TAs be paid on time in the future. If you have questions about this, just contact the GEU.

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