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 Teaching Assistants at MSU as state labor laws deny graduate Research Assistants, Fellows, and Teaching Exempt the collective bargaining rights afforded other public employees.

Public Employment Relations Act (Section 1, part E-1-iii): “An individual serving as a graduate student research assistant or in an equivalent position … is not a public employee entitled to representation or collective bargaining rights under this act.”

As a graduate employee am I automatically enrolled in the union?

No, you are not. Due to state laws GEU can only enroll members who sign a union card. You can sign your union card here!

As a graduate employee, can I e-mail member defense to get support, consultation, or to help with a formal grievance to MSU?

Yes, all graduate employees at MSU can work with GEU to understand and navigate the gradience process. Contact member defense at

Can I apply for the solidarity grant?

Yes, all graduate employees who are members of the GEU (TA member or associate member) are eligible and encouraged to apply for a solidarity grant when in need. More information on this page

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.

What are the different appoint types?

Teaching Assistant (TA)

Research Assistant (RA) or other graduate assistant (GA) position not covered by the collective bargaining agreement between GEU and MSU (for example, an Assistant Community Director for REHS) – you have an assistantship that waives your 9 credit hours of tuition, but you are not a TA.

Fellow (for example, if you have the Dissertation Completion Fellowship)

Teaching-exempt student (TE) – you are an employee who is not required to teach or work on a specific research project for your funding (for example, you may work in a tutoring center). In many departments, first-year students are teaching-exempt.

What does my appointment type affect?

GEU will recognize any members of the union, whether TA Members or Associate Members, as members. We will work to defend you, support you, and fight for fair working conditions for you.

However, state laws in Michigan state that our employer, MSU, is allowed to NOT recognize RAs as members of unions. Therefore, sometimes when we try to defend our Associate Members, we have limited powers against the employer who is allowed to discriminate between TAs and RAs and recognize only TAs as covered by our collective bargaining agreement.

Use the flow chart below to see how your appointment affects your membership and benefits.

Can I join GEU?
  • TA appointment – Yes, as a TA Member
  • RA or other GA appointment, Fellow, or Teaching Exempt – Yes, as an associate member
Dues amount
  • TA appointment – 1.6% deducted from your paycheck (gross amount)
  • RA or other GA appointment, Fellow, and Teaching Exempt – $40/year
Can the contract be used to defend someone with this appointment?
  • TA appointment – Yes
  • RA or other GA appointment – In some cases but not others
  • Fellow – No
  • Teaching Exempt – In some cases but not others
Can I apply for the tuition credit waiver if enrolled in
more than 9 credit hours?
  • TA appointment – Yes
  • RA or other GA appointment, Fellow, and Teaching Exempt – No
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.

How can I become a member?

It’s easy. Just fill out the union membership card 1) linked here on our website 2) that came in the mail or 3) that came from your department. If you don’t have one, visit this page,  email or call (517.332.2824) and we’ll get one to you.

How do I become an associate member?

You can become an associate member by clicking on this link here to join on our website for just $40/Year.

What if I switch appointments? Am I still a member? Do I need to sign up again?

If you signed up for the union while you were a TA and then you switched to be appointed as an RA in a subsequent semester, then you are no longer a dues-paying member once you become an RA because MSU’s payroll will no longer be deducting 1.6% from your gross pay as your union dues. You would have to sign up as an Associate Member for $40/year at that point, and your Associate membership would
expire 1 year from the date that you signed up.

  • If you were an RA when you signed up for the union as an Associate Member but then you were appointed to a TA position before your 1 year of Associate Membership expired, then you are eligible for a refund at a prorated amount of your Associate membership. (You must
    e-mail the Treasurer at and ask for the refund.) You may then sign up for the union at the 1.6% dues rate and receive full membership benefits as a TA member of GEU.
    • If you are switching from RA to TA and you have already been a dues-paying TA member in the past, then MSU payroll is supposed
      to resume your same payroll deduction so that you are still a TA member as you were before. Sometimes MSU payroll messes this up, so if you notice that you are not having dues deducted from your paycheck but you want to be a union member, please contact us
      to let us know about the issue, and feel free to sign up again!
  • You can always ask your department Steward if you are a current member, or you can e-mail to ask!
Can international students get involved in GEU?


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!

The GEU has an International Students Committee which is run by and works for international student employees at MSU. Contact them at

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 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.