Tuition Waiver Open!

With the help of members like YOU the Graduate Employees Union was able to secure a special Tuition Waiver Credit Pool for TAs who have to take more credits than the 9-9-5 waiver covers.  Applications for the Spring Semester pool are open now until October 23!


Click here to apply today


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Spring Tuition Credit Pool Will Open Soon

As you may remember, one of the big wins we had in our contract last year was a substantial increase to the tuition pool open for TA’s to apply for if they need more than 9 credits in the Fall or Spring or more than 5 in the Summer.

Well the application for those credits will be opening soon! The application will open on October 9th, and close at 5:00 pm on October 23rd! You will find it at


If you have any questions, please email

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Our New Contract is Now Online!

This May, after a tremendous amount of work by graduate students throughout campus, we finally won an amazing contract. We secured substantial pay raises across the university, drastically reduced the cost of dependent healthcare after the university had attempted to increase it, and increased the size of our tuition pool.  There are Teaching Assistants who can, for the first time since coming to graduate school, afford healthcare for their spouse. I myself met an international student who had followed the work of the GEU from his home town in India, and who said without the work of graduate students in the union, he would not be able to be here. Thank you to all who fought for our contract!

It’s of course been a few months, over which our bargaining team was not quite done. We’ve been reviewing the language in the contract so that it  is ready to print- a substantial undertaking. I’d like to thank those who volunteered numerous hours to getting our contract into a publishable state, including former Vice President of Organizing Carolyn Pratt, current Vice President of Grievances and Contract Enforcement Kelly Stec, and President Elle Gulotty, as well as our lead organizer Meredith Place!

Thanks to their hard work this summer, we can now present our contract in online form. You will soon see the contract on our website with some handy hyperlinks to help explain some details. For now, however, please find the contract on Michigan State University’s Human Resources Page:


In Solidarity

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Tuition Pool Application Due July



As you may have heard, in our new contract we gained a much expanded tuition credit pool! This means far fewer TAs will have to pay out of pocket for their courses!

If you will be a TA this Fall and need extra credits for the Fall, please apply here:


In Solidarity,


Your GEU!

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We’ve reached a Tentative Agreement!

After months of bargaining with the administration, countless emails, several grade-ins, rallies, and a march where we shut down the busiest street in East Lansing, we finally have a tentative agreement!!!

Thank YOU for showing your support and raising your voice during this process.

T.tuition Waiver: We won!

  • We’ve kept our 9-9-5 tuition waiver
  • We’ve increase our tuition credit pool from 200 to 450 credits We won!

  • We’ve maintained quality, affordable healthcare, comparable to what we have now, including much better dependent coverage!

I.inclusivity: We won!

  • Our contract will allow us to file grievances if anyone experiences harassment based on any of the protected categories outlined by our Social Justice and Political Action Committee! The union will work to develop educational materials to raise awareness of these protections.

S.salary: We WON!

  • We were able to raise the minimum stipends by 10% in the first year of our contract, and 5% in the third year of our contract.
  • We will all receive a 2% raise annually, beginning August 2015.

NOW, it is up to YOU to ratify this contract. You will receive an electronic ballot shortly, with details of our new contract, and you will be asked to vote to ratify. Please join us on Friday, May 15th, from 10-2 in the main lobby of the MSU Student Union, where will have bargaining team members on hand to explain our new contract in more depth.

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Please support our contract negotiations by signing our PETITION, following our BARGAINING BLOG, and following us on social media.

Important bargaining update: 05/04

We wish we could tell you that because of your hard efforts at the march last Friday, MSU has ‘seen’ the light. In fact, we thought we would be able to tell you this. But while we have some good news about salary, almost everything else we have to share is not so exciting. Please COME TO A GRADE IN this TUESDAY in the building where we have our negotiations, NESBIT HALL. Its a bit of a hike, so if you need a ride, contact us (geu at msu dot edu)!

We approached bargaining on Friday with the hope that this would be a productive conversation. Thursday’s bargaining session showed positive movement from the university on the issue of raises- especially the raises for those at the very bottom of the pay scale. The ten percent increases for the very minimums would be a big step towards protecting our most vulnerable TAs, raising the minimum salary for a half-time, academic year TA almost to $14,200. The 1.5 percent annual raises for everyone are considerably better than the earlier .3% proposed raises. For reference, here is where MSU TA salaries currently stand with respect to peer institutions. Many of these institutions already have 3+% salary raises for the next couple years.  So we will need to do better than the current proposal to keep pace once we raise the minimums.

With a little time to look over the full proposal, we did note that many members would still be worse off because of the reduced tuition waiver for students after comps and the removal MSU’s contribution to dependent healthcare premium costs. And so we came to bargaining on Friday intending to discuss those two problems.

MSU’s plan to reduce the tuition to three credits after comps would create a net loss for many doctoral candidates. Currently, post comps students take an average of about 4.2 credits per semester. Paying for extra two or three credits per year would cost from $1,292 to $1,938 a year. While many students might be able to stay below the limit of three credits, there are some programs where this would be nearly impossible. Many departments take comprehensive exams early in their program leaving those students struggling to catch up with 999s. That, in turn, might cause students to delay taking comps, which would increase average time to completion and cost students and the university more money. Any special issue courses that come up later or other class needs might be impossible. OER claims that the people they have spoken to so far say the problems would be minor. It also seems that they have spoken to very few people in the College of Education, College of Social Science, and College of Music. Overall, OER’s proposal to weaken our tuition waiver would push us closer to the bottom of the pile with respect to our Big Ten public institution peers than we already are.


School Credits Covered by Tuition Waiver
Ohio State All
Penn State All
Michigan All
Rutgers All
Purdue All
Illinois All
Wisconsin All
Iowa All
Nebraska 12
Maryland 10
Michigan State 9 (MSU proposal: Only 3 after comps)
Minnesota 6


Any student who needs six credits per semester would see increased out of pocket tuition costs of $3,876 a year at current tuition rates.Note that their proposal drops us to THE VERY BOTTOM OVERALL in the Big10. …go green.

After a brief caucus we returned to discuss MSU’s contribution to dependent health care costs. MSU claims that because of changes to health insurance regulations, costs for enrolling a spouse will be reduced substantially making the subsidies for premiums unnecessary. While the costs would be reduced for the first year, using MSU’s predictions for premium increases on our health plan we can see that they will be considerably higher than they are now by the end of the contract. And while costs to enroll a spouse will drop temporarily, costs to enroll children will increase immediately. The proposed changes will hurt families. The new cost to enroll two children will be $5,832, an increase of $2,730.

We pointed out which groups would be hurt and that even the reduced costs for spouses are unmanageable on a small salary. Many Teaching Assistants already rely on the food bank or student loans to help get by after paying health premiums for their children.

After a day of conversations about proposals reducing our tuition and health benefits, OER said that we seemed to be asking for everything we already had only better. They suggested we make hard decisions about things like whether or not we buy generic brands and whether or not we add ground beef to our spaghetti sauce. They suggested we make hard decisions, adult decisions, about whether we choose to have children, and whether or not we choose to come to MSU if we already have families.

It is unacceptable for MSU to make graduate education unfeasible for parents. This is not an issue of buying generic brand food, this is an issue of accessible higher education and health insurance for children. Should you, as a woman, have to defer your choice to have a child until you have received your terminal degree? Should you be forced to choose between an education and a high risk (by virtue of mother’s age) pregnancy? Should you be forced to choose between the family that you have and continuing your education? MSU seems to believe we should. We are a cheap demographic to insure. Because of the nature of international student visas and a number of other legal constraints, MSU must provide healthcare. And we believe that they shouldn’t limit the diversity of people who can receive a graduate degree here by offering limited, non-comprehensive healthcare to us and our families, asking us to assume rising healthcare costs, and protecting their bottom line.

Sign up for a shift at an upcoming GRADE IN!

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Fall Appointment Deadline: April 22

All departments are required to notify us (if we applied) if we have a TA position for Fall 2015 by April 22. This notification was a hard fought battle to give us some job security and the ability to plan. It’s important that we enforce this benefit. If you do not hear a YES or NO from your department by April 22 – contact the Union office immediately. We will contact the University on your behalf and if you do not receive a letter within three days – you will be eligible for 2 weeks additional pay.

A couple of details…

1. If your department offered you a year long appointment then they have satisfied the provision.

2. Email notifications are okay – but don’t delete them!

3. The letters need to say yes or no, definitively. The language cannot say, you have a job pending budget allowances or anything like that. A clear yes or no is what you need to have in your hand.

If you have questions, please email the office at

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Executive Board Elections

Executive Board Elections are happening at the 2015 Spring GMM on April 10th!! The GEU Executive Board consists of five elected officers who serve one-year terms (Aug 1 – July 31).

  • President
  • Treasurer
  • Vice President for Contract Negotiation & Enforcement
  • Vice President of Organizing & Outreach
  • Information Officer

If you wish to know more about the above positions click here for more information.

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Nominations Open for GEU Awards

As a teaching assistant, do you have (or have you had) an outstanding supervisor? Is your department exemplary in the way that it treats its graduate assistants? If so, then you should consider nominating your supervisor or department (or both!) for a GEU Award.

The nomination process is painless, and you could help us give much deserved recognition to those supervisors and departments who maintain healthy, supportive relationships with their graduate TAs.

2010-2011 Geueys

If, on the other hand, you have had “less than outstanding” interactions with your supervisor or department regarding your teaching assistantship, please contact the GEU Grievance Committee (

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Solidarity Grant Program Launch

At our January General Membership Meeting our membership overwhelmingly approved the creation of a new Solidarity Grant program, which we use to stand in solidarity with our members in their times of need. This program will provide our members with access to moderately sized grants to help them in times of crisis!



Members at the January Jambillee GMM shortly after Solidarity Grant Approval

From our guidelines:


The Solidarity Grant Program established by the Graduate Employees Union AFT #6196 is tasked with the primary purpose of providing financial assistance to Graduate Employees Union members in hardship. As graduate students tend to live paycheck to paycheck, any kind of unanticipated financial cost can cause severe hardship ranging from usurious debt to eviction from one’s home or deportation from the country. Directing resources from the Graduate Employees Union to those in need is an act of solidarity with those members struck with misfortune, embodying the ideal that a strike against one is a strike against all.

If you are a member of the GEU currently suffering a hardship, you can apply for the program at this link: Solidarity Grant Program

For those with more interest in how the program is run and decisions made, please look at our guidelines here: Solidarity Grant Guidelines

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