|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
East Lansing - Today the Teaching Assistants (TAs) and Graduate Assistants(GAs) at Michigan State University voted 662 to 192 to become unionized.The new union local, the Graduate Employees Union (GEU), will be affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO. GEU now joins 29 other graduate employee unions in the United States, including unions at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Wayne State University in Detroit.
"It is a great feeling," said Christopher Oliver, President of GEU. "Everyone on the organizing team worked so hard, we had great community support, and help from other unions and elected officials. This will mean graduate workers at MSU will have a voice on issues that concern us - benefits and working conditions."
Andy Nolan, an English Department 3rd year PhD candidate, explained why she voted for the union. "It just seems such common sense, why not have a union? When we looked at what other graduate workers at other universities have for health care coverage and living standards, it seemed the difference between what they had, and what we have, was a union."
"Universities are more and more run like corporations and you have to speak to corporations with a union, not as individuals," explained Vaughn Anderson, Computer Science & Engineering 2nd year MA program.
"It's fantastic!" exclaimed Dan Katz a 4th year PhD student. "I knew we'd do it. We know more about this campus now than any other organization, we are the ones that went out there and talked to people face-to-face, we didn't rely on surveys or web polling or phone calls."
There are 1,500 TAs and GAs at Michigan State University. Teaching Assistants teach approximately 30% of undergraduate credit hours at the university, mostly in discussion and lab sections. Graduate Assistants are employed to perform administrative and other duties on the East Lansing campus.
The new union, like the
graduate employee unions at UofM and Wayne State is affiliated with the
Michigan Federation of Teachers and School Related Personnel, AFT, AFL-CIO.