General FAQs

Who can become a member?
Any MSU graduate student can be a member of GEU. Anyone employed at MSU as a Teaching Assistant is a member of our Collective Bargaining Unit. Any graduate student who has no funding or funding through a GA or RA position is eligible to join the GEU as an Associate Member.

What is a Collective Bargaining Unit?
Collective Bargaining Unit refers to the group of employees that are directly represented by a Union.  In the case of the GEU it refers to all graduate TAs at MSU.

Why does my RA contract look so different than my friend’s TA contract?
When you are appointed as a TA you are in an unionized position and a part of GEU’s collective bargaining unit.  As such you are directly defended by the contract negotiated between the GEU and MSU.  Other forms of appointments (such as RAs or Fellows) are not unionized and do not work under the GEU-MSU contract.  For TAs MSU is under a strict, legal obligation to offer the salary and benefits negotiated by the GEU, which can be defended with the grievance and arbitration procedure.

The salary levels and benefits that are offered to RAs and Fellows tend to be the same as for the TAs, but the university is under no legal obligation to do so.  An common example of a difference between the benefits offered RAs and TAs is the Tuition Credit Pool, which is a benefit the GEU fought hard to get and can only accessed by TAs.

How can I become a member?
It’s easy. Just fill out the union membership card that came 1) in the mail or 2) from your department. If you don’t have one, email geu@geuatmsu.org or call (517.332.2824) and we’ll get one to you.

How do I become an associate member?
You can become and associate member joining on our website here for just $40/Year.

What is the difference between Membership and  Associate Membership?

Membership applies to the semesters that you are appointed as a TA.  Becoming a member as a TA is as easy as signing a yellow membership card.  As a TA-member your dues will automatically be deducted from your paychecks during the time that you are teaching.

Associate membership applies the semesters when you are not teaching.  To become an associate member please go to our website here.  Associate members have access to the same members only benefits that TA-members have, such as the Solidarity Grant.

Why should I become a member?
Signing a membership card and paying GEU dues gives you an equal voice in setting union policy and the opportunity to control your wages, benefits, and working conditions. Being a member shows your support for all of the past GEU members who have bargained for the benefits you enjoy – and a way of committing yourself to making things better for TAs (and RAs) in the future. Joining the GEU increases our negotiating strength. Each additional member reinforces the message to the administration that the GEU is a force to be taken seriously. Our experience shows that this greatly improves and protects working conditions. Graduate employees are dependent on the university not only for appointments to cover a portion of their living expenses, but also for grades and recommendations. Only a strong union can bargain for fair contracts and protect graduate employees from excessive workloads, harassment, discrimination, and retribution, all of which could damage our future careers. If you think you don’t need to join because things are fine in your department, think again. No matter how good they are, they could be even better, especially with the budget as tight as it is these days. Besides, even if things seem fine now, conditions could deteriorate with a shift in university priorities, a new department chair, or bad budget news. Only an effective union presence guarantees that the administration doesn’t react to these changes by trying to squeeze more work out of its graduate employees.

Can international students get involved in GEU?
Yes! The GEU is for all MSU graduate students. You can join – and be active – in the GEU with no fear of repercussions. In the history of the GEU, no international student has had any problems with the university with her visa status as a result of her involvement with the Union. Furthermore, it is against the law for the university to discriminate against anyone as a result of her union activity, and union activity cannot be taken into account when the INS considers your visa. The GEU is here to help protect and represent you, and is the best resource for you if you run into complications with your job. By getting involved, you can make sure that the GEU can represent the full diversity of the union!

How do I get an item on the agenda for a GEU membership meeting?
If you have an issue you’d like to see the GEU membership address at a meeting, contact your department steward and ask her/him to forward your agenda item to the GEU Executive Board for inclusion in the meeting agenda. You can also contact the GEU office directly: email geu@geuatmsu.org or call 517.332.2824.

If you feel you have a grievance please email or call the office straight away.

How much are my dues and when do I pay them?
For TA’s: Dues are 1.6% of your gross salary during the semesters you have a TA appointment and are automatically deducted from your paycheck after you sign a yellow membership card.

For Associate members: Annual dues are just $40/year. You can pay directly by either check or credit card on our website here. Your dues enable the union to negotiate contracts by paying for professional staff, rent, and supplies. Paying union dues is one of the best investments you’ll ever make.

What has the GEU done for me?
In the past few years, the GEU has successfully won:

  • An increase in the base salary of 10% in 2015, with a further 10% increase over three years.
  • Annual stipend increases of 2% for all TAs
  • Tuition waiver (9 credits fall and spring; 5 credits summer) plus 450 additional credits in the tuition credit pool
  • Free, comprehensive health care
  • Substantial employer contributions to dependent health insurance
  • Domestic partner benefits
  • A grievance procedure to ensure fair resolution of work-related problems
  • Sick leave and family emergency leave
  • Comprehensive mental health coverage
  • Parking
  • Workload limits and overwork protection
  • Paid, department-specific teacher training
  • Posting of all jobs to ensure equal access to employment
  • Dental insurance with a 50% employer contribution

What can I do for the GEU?
The GEU is YOUR union! Take ownership of your union by being an engaged and active member. Talk to your department steward about the union’s agenda or become a steward yourself; join a committee; attend a bargaining session; attend membership meetings to discuss and vote on union priorities; wear a GEU T-shirt or button; tell your students you’re a union member; stand up for your rights! We owe our successes to the volunteer involvement of our members – grad employees just like you. Contact the GEU today to find out how you fit in!

If you need additional assistance call the Union at 517.332.2824 or email us at geu@geuatmsu.org.