What’s a Grievance?

Grievances are formal complaints about contract violations.  A grievance is defined in our contract as “a written complaint involving an alleged violation of a specific provision(s) of the Agreement and remedy sought…The primary purpose of this procedure is to secure, at the lowest level possible, equitable solutions to the grievance(s).” Some grievances are more common than you might think. If you find yourself concerned about any of these scenarios, contact us at

Help protect and enforce your rights!

Common TA Grievances

Minimum Pay Rates: See the minimum amounts guaranteed by our contract. For the 2019-2013 contract, minimum pay rates are as follows:

Level one employees are those with less than one year of experience. The minimum biweekly stipends for level one employees are as follows:

Level 1, ¼ Time415436458469
Level 1, ½ Time830872916938
Level 1, ¾ Time1245130813741407

Level two employees have a Master’s degree/equivalent and/or two semesters’ experience as a graduate assistant. Here are the minimum stipends for level two:

Level 2, ¼ Time459482506519
Level 2, ½ Time91896410121038
Level 2, ¾ Time1377144615181557

Level three employees are those who have a Master’s/equivalent and have completed at least four semesters of a graduate assistantship, though it may vary up to six by the college you are employed by if that was founded in 2004 or prior:

Level 3, ¼ Time479503528541
Level 3, ½ Time958100610561082
Level 3, ¾ Time1437150915841623

NOTE: Experience to move up levels does not need to be as a teaching assistant! Being a research assistant or on a full support fellowship also counts.

Workload: Working beyond your appointment fraction without a corresponding bump in pay. The GEU/MSU contract is very specific about the number of hours TAs should be working on their appointment. (The following are maximums.)

  • 10 hours per week for a ¼ time appointment
  • 20 hours per work for a ½ time appointment
  • 30 hours per week for a ¾ time appointment

What counts as work? Any work associated with your assistantship should be included in your workload tally. This means orientations, prep, grading, proctoring exams, office hours, answering student emails, staff meetings, and teaching. If you have questions about your workload or what constitutes work under your assistantship, call the Union! You might also use an appointment worksheet to establish expectations in advance. If you suspect you may be working beyond your appointment fraction, it would be helpful to have a reliable log of all of the time you spent on your TA appointment.

Teaching Assistants who believe they have worked more hours than the average allowed for by their appointment fraction are encouraged to contact the Union at 517.332.2824 or by email at The contract allows the Union to file overwork grievances up to 30 days after the semester ends.


All newly appointed and re-appointed employees shall receive a letter of appointment that specifies:

  • Title,
  • Appointment fraction
  • Fffective dates
  • Salary
  • Teaching or work schedule
  • Supervisor’s name

The reappointment letter shall not contain any language that attaches the offer of employment to funding or budget contingencies. The employing department will notify an employee of a decision to reemploy or not to re-employ as an employee.

How the Grievance Procedure Works

Filing a grievance simply involves contacting administrators to discuss and resolve workplace issues. Experienced GEU leaders and staff will hear you out, help you decide whether and how to proceed with your grievance, and will attend and help represent you at meetings at each stage of the process. Grievances typically progress through the following steps:

  • Informal Step. Informal meeting with the supervisor and/or other involved parties to try to resolve the issue. The vast majority of grievances are resolved in the informal stage without requiring the formal grievance process. You are entitled to union support and representation at this stage.
  • Step 1. Filing of a formal grievance with the head of the employing unit (Chair, Head, Director, Dean, etc.) no later than 30 days from the date the grievant first became aware of the cause of the grievance, explaining the facts of the alleged contract violation. The employing unit designee will meet within 15 days with the grievant and the union representative to search for a mutually satisfying resolution. The VP of Contract Negotiations and Enforcement prepares the written grievance with assistance from GEU staff and the graduate employee.
  • Step 2. If Step One failed to reach an agreeable solution, the grievance will be appealed to the Provost within 15 days from receipt of an answer from the employer regarding the meeting at step one. The provost, grievant, and union representative will meet to search for a mutually satisfying resolution.
  • Step 3. If Step Two fails, the grievance shall be appealed for arbitration by a neutral third party within 30 days from receipt of the Step Two answer. The arbitration hearing allows for the hearing of both sides of the grievance. The arbitrator’s decision is final and binding on both parties.


Not Sure You Have a Grievance?

Contact the GEU VP for Contract Negotiations and Enforcement to discuss ANY potential problem. Sometimes you just want someone to hear you out, and that’s okay. We’re here for that too.

Sometimes the issue isn’t purely employment-related, and that’s okay. We’re here to help you navigate the academic grievance process, too. Sometimes the issue doesn’t constitute a formal contract violation, and that’s okay.

We’re here to help you figure out remedies outside of the grievance procedure as well.

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