U of Michigan Seeks Court Order to End Strike

September 15, 2020

After the graduate students' union at the University of Michigan voted on Sunday to continue its strike until Sept. 18, the university administration announced Monday that it is seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in Washtenaw County Circuit Court to order strikers back to work.

"The issues raised are very important and we are committed to addressing them -- but we can't do it at the expense of our students' education," President Mark Schlissel said in a video message to campus.

Graduate students have been refusing to teach classes, hold discussion sections and do some research since the strike began Sept. 8. The union has also asked faculty members and undergraduates to not hold or attend class in solidarity with the strike.

The union has said members will return to work when the administration has addressed concerns around testing for COVID-19, subsidies for caregivers, permittance of remote work for instructors, timeline and funding extensions, rent freezes, diversion of funds from campus police, and other demands.

Faculty and staff have also raised concerns about a lack of transparency from the university administration.

The university submitted a proposal to the union, but that resolution was rejected by membership on Wednesday.

According to the university press release, if the court grants the injunction and restraining order, graduate students continuing the work stoppage could be held in contempt of court and the union could face civil damages for the strike. It is illegal for public employees to strike in the state of Michigan, and the current labor contract prohibits such action.

The university also filed an unfair labor practice charge against the union with the Michigan Employee Relations Commission on Sept. 8.

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