Graduate Student Union Demands Funding For More Abortion Access, Police Abolition

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Alexa Schwerha Contributor
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UPDATE: This piece has been updated to include a statement from the University of Michigan.

University of Michigan (UM) graduate students demanded the abolition of campus police and expanded access to abortion during bargaining sessions with university officials before its contract expires in May, according to the union’s 2022-2023 contact campaign.

The Graduate Employees’ Organization’s (GEO) abortion proposals included establishing an abortion fund to cover the “financial costs of abortion care,” permitting time off to recover from “reproductive medical procedures” or travel for an abortion and its abolition efforts would redirect funding to “a community-led, non-police, unarmed emergency response” team, according to the campaign. The university, however, shot down these proposals during separate bargaining meetings in January. (RELATED: NYC Students Occupy Campus Building To Support Striking Faculty)

The union pushed for expanded abortion access during its seventh bargaining session on Jan. 27, however the university rejected the proposal to expand coverage because “the requests are either currently covered by GradCare or covered by U-M health services,” according to the meeting notes.

The university said it is committed “to providing comprehensive reproductive health care services” in a November 2022 statement, according to its website.

A separate proposal demanded the university approve a “$10,000 annual Reproductive Health Fund that would be fully administered (procedures, policies and requirements) by GEO to cover costs related to reproductive health.” The university rejected it because a similar fund is already accessible to graduate students, the notes read.

The university rejected the union’s demand for a “non-police” response team during a Jan. 20 meeting because it violates a 2020 agreement that “policing is not a subject of bargaining,” according to the meeting notes. The university also said it cannot “bargain with one union on issues that could impact another union without their involvement.”

The same rationale was used to reject the union’s demand to ban immigration agents “from entering university property to execute certain search or arrest warrants.”

“Additionally, U-M is legally obligated to follow immigration laws and regulations,” the notes read. “In addition, collective bargaining is to focus on wages, hours, and working conditions for those covered by a contract.”

“The issues are open for discussion until the contract is finalized,” Kim Broekhuizen, UM’s director of public affairs, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The next bargaining meeting was held on Feb. 3, however the notes have not been made public. GEO tweeted Feb. 5 the university “rejected almost our entire platform” and offered a 2% raise each year.

The union also proposed several measures to boost “transgender healthcare” which include removing requirements for laser hair reimbursements, limited sessions for speech therapy for gender dysphoria and providing accessible sex change surgery at the university, according to the campaign.

GEO did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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