Brief GEO History
Updated January 2011
The Graduate Employees Organization, or GEO, is the union representing Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) at the University of Michigan. Membership in GEO is approximately 1,800.
The first attempt to unionize U-M's Teaching Fellows (as GSIs were then called) was in 1970 when the University Teaching Fellows Union petitioned the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) for recognition as the sole bargaining agent for the Teaching Fellows. MERC dismissed that petition, ruling that the Fellows were not an appropriate bargaining unit.
The next attempt to unionize came in the fall of 1973 when the University, after meetings with representatives from the graduate students and MERC, agreed to hold an election, supervised by MERC, to determine student interest in forming a union. The newly named "Graduate Employees Organization" received 807 votes and "No Union" 424.
On April 15, 1974, MERC certified GEO as the sole representative of the graduate student teaching assistantsnow called Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs)graduate student research assistants and graduate student staff assistants for purposes of collective bargaining at the University of Michigan. During the summer of 1974, negotiations for the first contract began. On February 10, 1975, U-M teaching assistants voted a strike, which began the next day. The strike lasted until March 11 when issues were resolved and a contract was signed on March 14, 1975, with the term of the agreement to end August 31, 1976.
In spring 1975 deliberations on outside union affiliation for the GEO began with the result that on February 19, 1976, GEO became "Graduate Employees Organization, American Federation of Teachers, Local Number 3550."
GSIs taught without a contract from September 1, 1976, until November 22, 1981, when a second contract was signed.
Since the 1993 GEO contract, GSI salaries have increased at the same or greater rate as regular faculty salaries in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts.
The latest contract became effective April 1, 2008 and runs through March 1, 2011.
Current GEO Contract: 2008-2011