Hmm. A threat of work stoppage and a down-to-the-wire negotiation comes up every time they renegotiate, although the trigger issue differs each team. The GEO has a generally antagonistic stance against the U, so it is ever thus.
This time I believe the stickler issue it's the base pay and whether than covers the total budget for a year (including room/board/etc) estimated by the financial aid office. I don't know if that's for students with a .25 appointment or the typical GSi appointment of .4, however.
I don't know--I haven't heard that, but it doesn't mean it's not a big issue.
GEO is a closed shop. If you're a graduate student employee, you are represented by the GEO, like it or not. It's certainly true that they tend to advocate for graduate students who work as GSIs, which means that grad students with research positions (instead of instructional positions) have issues which may not be the issues that GEO pushes to the fore. I don't know if time-to-degree plays a big role in what they're arguing about this year, though.
It's possible that STEM GSI's will cross the picket lines if it comes to a work stoppage. When I was represented by the GEO, I would have.
Ok, evidently the GEO threatens to strike every year over something or other; what I said I heard earlier is probably not the main issue. My LSA GSI told our class that it was canceled on Wednesday, so as far as I can tell, the strike is happening. However, my engineering GSIs are not participating, and I don't even know if the GEO is picketing North Campus. One of them even "conveniently" forgot to pay his dues this semester... whoops.
The GEO threatens to strike every three years, when contract negotiations come up. The issue is that the current average stipend is below the cost of living. Both sides agree that the average stipends need to be raised to match the cost of living, but the two sides differ in what they believe the cost of living is. The University has offered to increase the average stipend by 3% (to match up with the rate of inflation), and the GEO is demanding a 9% increase (most likely to cover inflation and increased housing costs).
AFAIK, this is more of an issue amongst the humanities/soft science graduate students, who can't readily get summer research jobs to supplement their stipend. I know the people in the math department don't particularly care (except for this one girl who looks like a guy that I saw wearing a t-shirt highlighting all the achievements of Graduate Student unions over the past decades...she might care), but are going through with the strike anyways.
my sis is a junior there and she said the GSI's are being paid less than what it cost to live in Ann Arbor. She has has 2 of her classes inside Borders because of it. She also does not plan on going to some of her classes tomorrow because she does not want to cross the picket line. The university really needs to pay them more.