Graduate students march for wage increase, benefits

(Maria Manning/Amherst Wire)

AMHERST — The Graduate Employee Organization (GEO) and several students rallied Friday at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for wage increases and benefits.

The group of some 20 protesters marched to the Whitmore Administration Building to kick off contract bargaining with the UMass administration. The UMass GEO is asking the university to increase wages by 18 percent over three years, according to a press release. They are also asking the university to reduce health and childcare costs, eliminate graduate fees and create broader anti-discrimination protections.

In regards to anti-discrimination, the submitted demands include protection when work is affected by mental and emotional health problems outside of the current definition of “disability,” to form a committee to discuss affirmative action and anti-discrimination, further access to gender-neutral bathrooms, paid parental leave and nearby parking for pregnant women.

The demands also outlined workplace safety concerns, updating the Assistant Residence Director contracts, workload grievance and appointment procedures, increasing summer employment opportunities for graduate students and paid legal defense for graduate student employees in student-related situations.

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