Advance Notice: Briefs

MSU grad student union says new contract hurts foreign students

By: - April 5, 2019 6:20 pm
The university's main library

Michigan State University main library | Michael Gerstein

Michigan State University’s graduate student employee union is crying foul over the university’s rejection of its latest contract re-negotiation, which it says will negatively impact international employees.

Members of the union filled an MSU building lobby Thursday to grade papers in protest of the latest contract and the university nixing several union proposals. Those would have added more protections for international students who face extra fees, “unclear standards” and strict work rules regarding work hours, the union said.

A press release from the Graduate Employee Union (GEU) said it had proposed scrapping those fees, establishing clearer guidelines for English language proficiency assessments and “protection against overwork … which could result in deportation due to violating conditions of worker visas.”

An MSU spokeswoman did not respond to an email from the Michigan Advance seeking comment on the contract renegotiation.

“What we’re most worried about is that the negligence and apathy of MSU administration toward issues of employee overwork is throwing international students under the bus and exposing them to extreme and unnecessary risks,” said GEU spokesman Kevin Bird.

“We know they’re aware of the risks — they’ve acknowledged them at the bargaining table. So to outright reject our proposal is very troubling and doesn’t show that they care.”

The GEU, which represents more than 1,200 MSU employees, formed in 2001. It is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Michigan and the American Federation of Labor/Council of Industrial Organizers (AFL-CIO), according to the GEU.

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Michael Gerstein
Michael Gerstein

Michael Gerstein is a former Advance reporter covering the Governor's office, criminal justice and the environment.