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Graduate students settle strike at University of Michigan

Classes will begin as normal Monday at the University of Michigan, following the settlement of a five-month strike by graduate student instructors. (Bridge file photo)
  • A strike by U-M grad student instructors has been settled just days before classes begin
  • The new three-year contract gives student instructors pay raises
  • Student instructors help teach undergraduate classes and grade papers and tests

 The graduate student worker  strike at the University of Michigan is officially over, clearing the way for the start of classes Monday.

About 97 percent of the members of the Graduate Employees’ Organization, which represents roughly 2,300 graduate student instructors and staff assistants across U-M’s three campuses, voted to approve a three-year contract that gives grad instructors raises, with a bigger paycheck bump for instructors on U-M’s main campus in Ann Arbor.


The contract also increases benefits for transgender surgery and care, parental care and sexual harassment protections.

You can read the contract here.

“We fought tooth-and-nail over 10 months of bargaining & 5 months of strike action, forcing U-M to grant the largest salary increase in GEO history,” the union wrote early Friday on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

University spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald told Bridge Michigan Friday that ratification of this new three-year contract will help to assure a smooth start to the new academic year next week.”

Fitzgerald said the contract will run from Aug. 25, 2023 through May 1, 2026.

The settlement ended a contentious, high-stakes strike that  impacted tens of thousands of U-M undergrads whose classes were led by grad instructors. The university relies heavily on grad workers to grade papers and tests of undergraduate students, lead classes and help with university programming.

The union had been on strike since March 29.  The university announced its “last, best and final offer” Aug. 20, which included a 8 percent raise in the first year of the contract, a 6 percent raise in the second year and another 6 percent raise in the third year for graduate student instructors and staff assistants at the university’s Ann Arbor campus.

U-M-Dearborn graduate student workers will receive 3.5 percent raises each year of the three-year contract term. The Flint campus would have its minimum stipend aligned to the Dearborn pay. Graduate students on all three campuses would also receive a $1,000 bonus. 

“U-M refused to ensure pay parity across all 3 campuses,” the union wrote on X. “This battle is over, but the fight goes on!”

The union planned to hold a news conference Friday afternoon.

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