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Graduate students who teach launch strike at University of Michigan

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(Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Graduate students who teach classes at the University of Michigan were on strike Tuesday over in-person instruction during the coronavirus pandemic and other issues.

The strikers chanted and held umbrellas while marching in the rain.

"I do not want my students and colleagues to get a chronic illness because this university decided it was most important to collect tuition," Surabhi Balachander said on Twitter.

The Graduate Employees' Organization, which represents more than 1,000 instructors, has called for a four-day strike.

The vast majority of classes at the University of Michigan have shifted to online but the union said the university isn’t doing enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It also wants the campus police budget cut by 50% and an end to cooperation with Ann Arbor police.

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the strike is illegal under state law and the union contract.

“The university is preparing to continue operations, including classes, in the event of a strike,” he said.

Related: University of Michigan graduate employees to strike, calling for ‘safe campus’