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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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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