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Graduate Employees' Organization At U-M On Strike Over COVID-19

University of Michigan

The Graduate Employees’ Organization union at the University of Michigan went on strike Tuesday over COVID-19 safety concerns.  

TheGEOwants the university to offer more COVID-19 testing and to be more transparent about their testing process.  The union that represents about 2,000 graduate student instructors says they met with university administrators during the summer to express concerns over in-person instruction this fall, but they believe they were ignored.  Erin Markiewitz is vice-president of the GEO.

Erin Markiewitz: The university’s testing plan is insufficient; they only test symptomatic patients and students who opt-in to an opt-in program which isn’t asymptomatic testing. It’s not randomized appropriately and that’s what experts are calling for.

The university says it does not plan to make changes to its in-person instruction because of the strike and that they’re testing about 3,000 faculty, staff, and students for COVID-19 every week.  University officials also say the union’s current employment contract, as well as state law, prohibits the GEO from going on strike.  The University of Michigan’s Lecturers’ Union has publicly expressed their support for the strike.

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— Jorge Avellan is a reporter for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him

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