ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — A judge on Monday declined to stop a strike by more than 2,000 graduate students who teach at the University of Michigan, just eight days before the term ends.
Washtenaw County Judge Carol Kuhnke acknowledged that undergraduate students have been affected by the strike, but she said she doesn’t see evidence of “irreparable harm.”
“Irreparable harm is an extremely high standard,” Kuhnke said.
Graduate students walked out on March 29 over better pay and other benefits. The current contract expires May 1.
University attorney Craig Schwartz said some classes have been canceled due to the strike and grades might not be completed in a typical way. A student testified that anything short of a traditional letter grade could spoil his chances of getting into law school.
But an attorney for the Graduate Employees’ Organization said the COVID-19 pandemic was proof that the university knows how to adjust the grading system.
“The strike isn’t going to wipe out grading at the university and there will be some courses in which grades will not be issued and the university has a method for responding to that,” Mark Cousens said.
Union President Jared Eno hopes the judge’s decision will lead to a breakthrough in negotiations.
“We’ve really lacked a problem-solving relationship with the university at the bargaining table,” Eno said.