The University of Michigan Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) voted on Sunday to extend its strike for another five days in protest of the university’s coronavirus regulations.
GEO said that the measure passed with 80 percent of the vote.
The GEO had originally authorized a strike from September 8-11 to call for increased coronavirus testing, the ability to work remotely and defunding of campus police, among other demands. The continuation of the strike will last until September 18.
“Membership overwhelmingly rejected the university’s initial offer last week that did not constitute continued progress on our demands. In particular, the university’s offer constituted zero progress on our policing demands,” the GEO said in a statement. “These are not optional; they are integral to our vision of a safe and just campus for our Black and brown members, colleagues, students and community members, in solidarity with and indebted to this summer’s national uprisings for racial justice and the long history of struggles against white supremacy in Washtenaw County, Detroit and Southeast Michigan.”
The resident advisors and cafeteria staff at the university also joined the strike, calling for increased access to testing and other updates to the school’s handling of the pandemic.
“One of the administrators repeatedly said that attempting to provide widespread testing across the campus was not realistic,” Soneida Rodriguez, a residential advisor at the schools, told NPR. “And in my mind, that became a turning point because if providing widespread testing, which is needed to ensure the safety of campus and prevent an outbreak, is not realistic, then why on earth was bringing people back to campus ever even considered a possibility?”
The GEO strike is also beginning to see support from the surrounding Ann Arbor community, where University of Michigan is located, with the Sunrise Movement’s Ann Arbor chapter sharing a petition voicing support for the school employees’ strike.
ATTENTION HIGH SCHOOLERS: sign the petition in our bio to stand in solidarity with @geo3550 as they strike against an unjust administration. As prospective applicants, it’s important to show that the actions of the university will not stand. pic.twitter.com/faUpjPzjT1
— Sunrise Ann Arbor🌅 (@sunriseannarbor) September 14, 2020
GEO said it will continue “shutting down the University’s unsafe and unjust operations.”
“GEO leadership is in continued talks with University administration to address our demands,” it said. “Until then, GEO members will continue to withhold our labor to insist that the University create safe and just working and learning conditions for all.”
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter at The Michigan Star and Star News Digital Media. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]
Photo “University of Michigan” by Jha4ceb at wts wikivoyage. CC BY-SA 4.0.