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Undergraduates protest, march in support of striking University of Michigan students

Members of GEO and other University of Michigan students protested and marched in Ann Arbor, Michigan on Friday, Sept. 11.
Members of GEO and other University of Michigan students protested and marched in Ann Arbor, Michigan on Friday, Sept. 11. (Sahil Kumar)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – On Friday, undergraduate students at the University of Michigan voiced support for graduate students and resident advisors on strike through a solidarity protest and march.

More than 250 undergraduates and members of Students Demand Representation, a U-M student activist organization, listened to speeches given from the steps of the Michigan Union about labor unions and the safety of university workers.

Speakers included State Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor) and representatives from Students Demand Representation, Lecturers' Union, Young Democratic Socialists of America, La Casa and the Black Student Union.

After the speeches, undergraduate students marched through downtown Ann Arbor and across campus to join those on strike and to support U-M Dining employees who staged a walkout last week.

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Around 2,100 members of the U-M’s Graduate Employees' Organization have been on strike since Tuesday, Sept. 8, protesting the university’s return to in-person learning, demanding increased coronavirus protections, a 50 percent reduction in funding to U-M’s Division of Public Safety and Security and for the university to cut ties with Ann Arbor Police Department.

Some resident advisors and U-M residence hall staff also joined the strike over what they say are insufficient coronavirus protections. Student workers listed several demands including hazard pay, personal protective equipment for students and staff, and enforcement of the university’s social distancing policies.

The strike has garnered national media attention as well as support from federal, state, and local government officials.

On Monday afternoon, University of Michigan president Mark Schlissel said through video that the university has taken legal action against the strike. According to University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald, the move includes a “temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the union strike.”

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