By Cryss Walker

Ann Arbor (CBS Detroit) – Graduate instructors at the University of Michigan are walking the picket lines to push for more safety on campus.

Many of them saying more needs to be done to protect students and staff.

Class is not in session for these graduate student instructors.

They’re pounding the campus pavement and calling on the University of Michigan administrators to step-up their COVID response plan.

Erin Markiewitz, graduate employees organization vice president said, “We’re frustrated. We’re scared. Five employees have already died from coronavirus and here they’re saying it’s sufficient? Here they’re saying they’re doing a lot to make our needs heard. That they’re listening to us.”

The graduate employees organization represents roughly two-thousand graduate student instructors and graduate staff assistants at U of M.

GEO presented a list of demands to the university for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing.

They’re also demanding resources for remote learning… with the option to do so without documentation.

Markiewitz said, “I love teaching. I wish I could be teaching right now. Unfortunately, the university has given us no other option than to go on strike and withhold our labor.”

The University of Michigan’s public affairs office released an official statement in response to geo via twitter.

It says in part that geo’s strike violates their contract and state law.

It also states that geo raised a number of concerns that could not be resolved as a matter of their contract or by collective bargaining.

Markiewitz said, “What does safe learning look like on this campus? Safe learning looks like being able to know that when you walk into a classroom it’s safe because you know that everyone on this campus is being tested randomly and they’re testing asymptomatic individuals.”

The University of Michigan is currently offering both in-person and online classes.

GEO plans to strike through Friday.

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