WHO ARE WE?
Members of the Graduate Employees Union are graduate students at Michigan State University, including Teaching Assistants and Research Assistants. We have our own academic responsibilities in courses, exams, theses, and dissertations. We also teach classes, grade students’ assignments, conduct research, and perform many of the duties which the university needs to function. We are affiliated with the AFT-Michigan (American Federation of Teachers), and the American Federation of Labor/Council of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).
WHY DID WE FORM A UNION?
We formed a union (currently one of about thirty similar unions in the nation) for an important reason: by uniting and speaking with a common voice through collective bargaining, the collective voices of graduate students can be a powerful tool to improve working and living conditions.
Teaching assistants, research assistants, and graduate assistants have been consistently overworked, underpaid, and disrespected. They are often the first to be cut when budgets get tight, asked to perform work that is not included in their contracts, and are often passed by when faculty and administrators are given pay raises. With a union, graduate students who work at the university have an organization that gives them the support to work to the best of their abilities, holds the university accountable for its actions, and ensures that graduate employees will be treated as professionals.
Unions are the best way to fight workplace discrimination because they give individual graduate students a forum to be heard, and an ally to work with when the administration acts in an unjust manner.