The GEU is working hard to prioritize building an anti-oppressive culture in our organization. Our stewards council has approved the creation of a new committee (Diversity, Inclusion, and Accountability Committee) that will provide resources and counsel to all other committees to make sure the strategies and processes that we employ encourage and make it possible for all GAs to participate to their fullest capacity, and to feel embraced and valued. We acknowledge our history of not proactively prioritizing anti-oppression and the harm it has caused to our members and our organization. We are looking for passionate graduate students who would like to help us transform our organization, and in doing so expand our support and advocacy efforts for our most vulnerable colleagues.
Coming up on July 12th we’re planning a general members meeting as celebration and thanks for the volunteers who made this great new contract possible! The GMM will be held at 6PM at the Allen Neighborhood Center and will have catering and alcoholic as well as non-alcoholic beverages provided.
While we thank those who have made our past efforts possible, we also want to look to the future and will be amending our constitution. As our union grows we found that some old aspects of the constitution no longer seem relevant and require some updating to meet the needs of the union. The changes are largely for this kind of housekeeping. You can find the proposed amendments here and we will have full discussion prior and opportunity to amend prior to sending out the electronic ballot for voting, which will remain open for one month.
Also please remember to check your membership status, if you aren’t currently a TA you need to sign up for associate membership (which can be partially reimbursed if you get a TA position before your associate membership expires)
We’ve officially ratified a contract!! Thank you for all your hard work and support this past contract season to make it happen.
Here is a summary of some big things we won!
PROTECTIONS AGAINST HARASSMENT/DISCRIMINATION/ASSAULT (D/H/A)
Summary: GEU has secured greater protection for TAs experiencing D/H/A in the workplace; increased institutional transparency in the investigation of their complaint; proper training in how to respond appropriately to disclosures of sexual harassment/assault; a seat at the table when university-wide policies on D/H/A are being revised.
- GEU is guaranteed a seat in the policy making process in the event the University Policies on Anti-Discrimination (ADP) and Relationship Violence & Sexual Misconduct (RVSM) are revised (new language)
- In cases in which TA complaints are being investigated by MSU’s Office of Institutional Equity (OIE), the TA may also elect to seek redress of grievances through the GEU-MSU grievance process (new language; this guarantees grievance protections for survivors of sexual harassment/assault in the workplace for the first time)
- In cases in which TA complaints are being investigated by MSU’s Office of Institutional Equity (OIE), investigators must timely updates on the status of the investigation to the complainant (new language)
Summary: systematic increases to contractual minimum salaries to reduce TA rent-burden
- 2% guaranteed annual salary increase
- Increases to minimum salary, years 1-4: 5%, 5%, 5%, 2.5%
Summary: increased support for TAs with multiple dependents
- 100% premium subsidy for individual TAs
- 100% premium subsidy for TA, $2500 total dependent subsidy if TA has single dependent
- 100% premium subsidy for TA, $2700 total dependent subsidy if TA has multiple dependents (up from $2200)
Summary: access to free emergency child care program; increased ability to use parental leave rights.
- Access to free emergency child care for TAs with children (still working on the details with MSU, but we’ve agreed in principle to this basic access)
- Removal of restrictions on when a parent may use parental leave (previously, must be completed within 6 weeks of the birth of child or adoption of a child under the age of six
Summary: increased tuition support for TAs taking heavy course loads
- Current contract waives regular, in-state tuition on first 9/9/5 credits during Fall/Spring/Summer semesters for TAs (provided they are employed as a TA in that semester). GAs can apply to GEU to have tuition waived on credits taken in excess of 9/9/5 threshold – GEU’s total waiver pool is now 500 credits (up from 450).
Summary: complainants have a longer time window in which to file grievances, making it easier to detect and escalate contractual violations. Decreases retaliation fears.
- Complainants now have 40 days to file grievance from date at which individual became aware of alleged contract violation (up from 30 days)
- Complainants have 60 days following issuance of final report from OIE for grievances involving alleged violations of the Anti-Discrimination Policy or the University Policy on Relationship Violence & Sexual Misconduct (new language)
Summary: TA are guaranteed adequate training, protections against non-work-related task directives, and the right to escalate overwork concerns before they become a problem.
- The Employer is obligated to meet with an Employee to discuss work load expectations if the Employee expects to work hours that unreasonably exceed the limit implied by their appointment level (new language; circumvents concern that when international TAs grieve violation of overwork provisions, they inadvertently admit to working in excess of the hourly limits imposed by their visa)
- The Employer affirms that it will obey applicable law that may further restrict Employee work loads (new language; speaks similarly to the above concern)
- The Employer explicitly affirms that it agents cannot direct TAs to do personal tasks or other work unrelated to assisting in the teaching of the course to which the TA is assigned (new language)
Summary: The Employer will ensure TAs are given the training required to maintain safety from physical harm in classroom environments. The Employer will ensure that TAs – given their role as mandatory reporters – are trained in how to field disclosures of sexual violence and relationship misconduct in a trauma-informed and survivor-centric manner. The Employer will provide material support to TAs for the purposes of developing a professional support network in the context of managing adverse social power dynamics in the classroom.
- The Employer will fund a Union-run forum providing a space for TAs to address/discuss dealing with the ways in which power imbalances stemming from identity (e.g., racial, sex, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) manifest in the classroom in the context of undergraduate instruction.
- The Employer agrees that it will provide expanded opportunities for TA training and education (informed by input from the GEU) on ADP/RVSM issues (new language)
- The Employer agrees that it will provide at least one in-person training on how to respond sensitively to disclosures of relationship violence and sexual misconduct and discrimination/harassment in the workplace. It will further ensure that TAs are equipped with the knowledge of what resources and support structures survivors of sexual violence at MSU have available to them. (new language)
- The Employer explicitly affirms in will provide needed safety trainings for TAs working in laboratories, including in how to operation lab equipment and in how to dispose of hazardous materials (new language)
LETTERS of AGREEMENT
- The Employer commits to discussing with the GEU a continuation of semesterly tuition benefits for TAs with DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status in the event a sudden change, alteration or rescindment of DACA might jeopardize such TAs access to work-related benefits
- The Employer commits to meeting to discuss implementation of the Emergency Childcare Program within 90 days of ratification
- The Employer commits to hold regular meetings to discuss meeting the housing needs of TAs
- The Employer commits to reimbursing up to $200 in SEVIS fees paid by TAs upon Employee request
- The Employer commits to involving the GEU in efforts to reform MSU’s Speaking Assessment, which determines the teaching eligibility for international graduate assistants. In particular, the Employer commits to working towards:
- Eliminating of testing biases
- Developing assessment feedback
- Better accessibility of remedial English courses
- Increased transparency of the Speaking Assessment itself
*The complete contract and a plain-language version are forthcoming.