Striking U-M graduate workers score court victory in wage battle

This week - a Washtenaw County judge sided with striking University of Michigan graduate student workers-- allowing them to continue their strike for better wages. .

On Friday the union celebrated that victory by marching to the president’s office and hosting a strike party and teach-in.

"We feel we have the wind at our backs after the victory in court earlier this week and we want to make sure the administration knows that," said Amir Fleischmann.

The graduate workers have been on strike for two weeks and in negotiations with the university since last November.

The university tried to get a court to issue an injunction against the union and force members back to work - but the judge sided with the union.

"We were saying all along that this was an abuse of the court system and a legal overreach," Fleishmann said. "And on Monday the judge agreed with us," said

University leaders disagree.

"They’ve been unwilling to make another counter-offer to their 60% pay increase," said Rick Fitzgerald, University of Michigan. "And until they are willing to do that, I don’t see how we can seriously consider their wage proposal."

Graduate workers say this is about more than a strike it’s really about survival.

"The university might come in with a fake offer and then expect us to move on it, we’re not," Fleischmann said. "This is the real thing that we need to make rent and to be able to afford necessities in Ann Arbor."

"The university remains committed to bargaining any day, any time to get this resolved," Fitzgerald said. "But again, (the Graduate Employees' Organization) has to bring something other than its initial demand to the table related to compensation because that’s just not negotiating."

As the two sides try to work it out, some say it’s the students who are paying the price.

"My GSI not being there - I haven't really been able to fully flesh out what I’m trying to learn and discover through the labs that we’re doing," said Robert Feldman, U-M first-year student. "The only people you’re messing with here, are the students."

The university and the union are set to go back to the table next week.