MSU grad student union says new contract hurts foreign students

    Michigan State University
    Michigan State University | Wikimedia Commons

    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.

    MSU's Stockwell residence
    Michigan State University | Wikimedia Commons

    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.

    Michael Gerstein
    Michael Gerstein covers the governor’s office, criminal justice and the environment. Before that, he wrote about state government and politics for the Detroit News, the Associated Press and MIRS News and won a Society of Professional Journalism award for open government reporting. He studied philosophy at Michigan State University, where he wrote for both The State News and Capital News Service. He began his journalism career freelancing for The Sturgis Journal, his hometown paper.

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