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Posted on Wed, Jul 27, 2011 : 4:50 p.m.

Mackinac Center Legal Foundation to challenge resolution allowing U-M research assistants to unionize

By Kyle Feldscher

The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation will hold a press conference at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the Michigan Union announcing a "major development" around the attempted unionization of University of Michigan graduate student research assistants.

Michael Jahr, vice president for communications at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said the press conference will deal with the resolution passed in May by the University of Michigan Board of Regents, allowing graduate student research assistants to unionize if they so choose.

"No one has really contested or challenged that to this point, and we will be doing that," he said.

The press conference will be held inside of the Pond Room at the Michigan Union, 530 S. State St.

University president Mary Sue Coleman spoke out against the proposal before regents approved it with a 6-2 vote, with regents Andrea Fischer Newman and Andrew Richner voting against. It was a rare decision by regents to vote against Coleman's advice.

Kyle Feldscher covers K-12 education for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Thu, Jul 28, 2011 : 1:17 p.m.

Who cares what the Mackinac Center's ideological point of view is. In this case, their action is correct. Allowing grade students to unionize is shear stupidity - it's about time someone stood up an said so. And yes, I was a grad student for many years.


Thu, Jul 28, 2011 : 1:56 p.m.

Please explain LEGALLY the standing these people have? NONE. End of story. Grad students SHOULD be allowed to unionize just like any other WORK force. Funny how the U, and the professors can make MILLIONS from the work of students without paying them a fair wage. Most would consider that illegal, but if you put the term student in front of it, it makes it ok. I suppose if Mark Zuckerburg had continued at Harvard they would have claimed Facebook as theirs because he was "just a student" and they own his intellectual discoveries.

Steve Pepple

Thu, Jul 28, 2011 : 12:26 p.m.

A comment containing masked swearing has been removed.


Thu, Jul 28, 2011 : 12:25 p.m.

More logical disconnect from the Mack Center: one reason they oppose unions is that they don't think third parties should be involved in contract negotiations, unless the Mack Center is the third party.


Thu, Jul 28, 2011 : 12:12 p.m.

The Mack is something else. As a parent of a ASD child, I was completely disgusted by their lack of support, no not lack of support, their complete and vocal support of no autism insurance, because well, it's just too damn bad, and the parents should pay for their own offsprings treatment. They are, ultimately, a one trick pony, the Captain Ahab of think tanks, just the antiunion crowd,to the point they consistently embarrass themselves when they show their faces around.


Thu, Jul 28, 2011 : 3:35 a.m.

The RAs at Michigan are not asking for a raise or for more benefits, only for the right to vote on whether or not they will join a union which is already present on campus. This should not cost the university community or the state of Michigan one penny. It is mean-spirited to deny them the right to choose for themselves or to try and scare them from making a free choice. Although she has raised a lot of money for the university, Mary Sue Coleman has changed the culture of U-M for the worse and wasted money on ugly and expensive projects while administrative salaries such as her own are at such a high level as to be completely out of place in an institution of higher learning. Universities are becoming more and more like corporations, prioritizing the bottom line over the abstract values upon which they were founded. MSC, who receives free housing, health insurance and transportation from the university, plus (I expect) other income from her work as a corporate board member outside of U-M, should reduce her salary to $1 per year as well as give the RAs, nurses a break as well as cutting other huge salaries to help pay for undergraduate tuition. University presidents used to be regular professors who took a few years to serve the community, then settled down. MSC treats the U community like expendable corporate drones and will someday leave her position not to be a full-time professor, but to go somewhere with an even more ridiculous salary and benefits package. The university should not be so afraid of that happening. Its community will have to rebuild quite a bit when she is gone.


Thu, Jul 28, 2011 : 1:37 a.m.

Thank you Makinac Center Legal foundation for brining common sense to these over privileged elite (grad students). It seems very odd that the extreme leftists would back this elitist group to the detriment of the underclassmen at the UofM. Hmmmm--- let me rethink this---- leftists are elitists so this is about elitists promoting elitists.........

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Thu, Jul 28, 2011 : 3:09 p.m.

clownfish: Doc doesn't know what he means when he speaks of "elitists" or of "leftists" except that anyone or anything he does not like he paints with one or both of those terms. But you are correct--it is a great question. What is it about striving to be "elite" is it that the right-wing finds so objectionable? There is a pathology at work here. Good Night and Good Luck


Thu, Jul 28, 2011 : 12:22 p.m.

elite: the choice or best of anything considered collectively, as of a group or class of persons. representing the most choice or select. --- HEARD, what do you have against people being the best at what they do? I wonder where this notion, promoted by right wing extremists mostly, came from that being elite is a bad thing?

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Thu, Jul 28, 2011 : 12:09 p.m.

" leftists are elitists so this is about elitists promoting elitists........." Yes, and the Mac Center is a bunch of poor, downtrodden blacks from Detroit. Please excuse heardoc. He lives on the other side of the looking glass. Good Night and Good Luck

tom swift jr.

Thu, Jul 28, 2011 : 10:22 a.m.

" brining common sense " explain that process to me, it involves salt I assume...


Thu, Jul 28, 2011 : 3:22 a.m.

What is the detriment to the underclassmen? RAs do not teach college students and are not asking for a raise, so what's the big deal?


Thu, Jul 28, 2011 : 1:22 a.m.

Whoo boy. Not good news for MSC or the anti-union crowd to have the tea-partiers supporting you. More evidence that opposition to this effort is not based on any real concerns of faculty, but is simply ideological in nature. MSC has lost all credibility on this one with me.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Thu, Jul 28, 2011 : 1:16 p.m.

Wondering what, about my original reply, got it deleted? Was it calling the post above "drivel"? If so, I thought one could take to task what some one said. Nowhere did I attack the poster. But, that said: profdave: your *brilliant* post is apparently based on not reading the article. MSC opposed permitting allowing the GRAs to form a union. The Regents overruled her. Otherwise, however, a brilliant and erudite post! Good Night and Good Luck


Thu, Jul 28, 2011 : 12:51 a.m.

I am embarassed by this group's association with such an important geographical part of Michigan. They pursue a blatantly pro-reverse-robin-hood agenda.


Thu, Jul 28, 2011 : 12:29 a.m.

Thank you Regents for voting against MSC. Hopefully this is the first loss in a string of losses for Coleman. She is an elitist who showers herself and her staff with lavish bonuses while the worker bee's under her thumb continue to mire in her overblown shadow. If these folks want to unionize, why stand in their way? They just want to do a better job as a cohesive unit. Let them. Speaking of cohesive units, back off the nurses at the hospital as well. Quoting you from your trip to the legislature in the Spring: "I am not going to punish people for doing a good job". Did you mean the little people to MSC?, or were you just talking about you and your croonies?


Thu, Jul 28, 2011 : 3:21 a.m.

She is so much like her buddy Snyder, trying to run government and education like corporations. But some things cannot be measured in dollars.


Wed, Jul 27, 2011 : 9:44 p.m.

How do they even have standing to challenge the resolution?


Wed, Jul 27, 2011 : 9:27 p.m.

Incorporated sedition, plain and simple.

David Briegel

Wed, Jul 27, 2011 : 9:14 p.m.

The Mackinac Center only believes in the Constitutional Rights of their chosen privileged class. Others are relegated to their Second Class Status. They are, of course, Tea Party Approved! And they all supposedly carry that sacred Constitution in their pocket.


Wed, Jul 27, 2011 : 9:35 p.m.

David, Is that the constitution that guarantees due process and equal protection of law? The one that requires judges may only "serve during good behaviour"? The one protecting the liberty to contract? The one protecting the right to assembly, even if it is a union? Can anyone dispute their voracity to return to our founding father's slavery evinced in their assault on the middle class in recent months.