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Graduate assistants inching closer to walkout

April 20, 2008

The Graduate Employees Union took one step closer to their proposed one-day walkout Sunday by approving a ballot sent to all members that could authorize the job action.

If approved – and if a contract has not been reached before then – the walkout would take place at 6 a.m. Tuesday, with members present at nine picket lines placed strategically around campus.

The action would involve not only the 1,200 employees covered by the contract, but also would feature support from members of the University of Michigan’s Graduate Employees Organization as well as various local unions, said Julia Smith-Heck, assistant staff representative for the union.

In addition to voting on the ballot, union officials declared that while they would still withhold grades from the university, they would be present to hold and proctor final exams – an action the union considered foregoing earlier in the year.

“It was decided that withholding (exams) would be too damaging to undergraduates,” Smith-Heck said. “You can always hand over grades, but you can’t make people take an exam again.”

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