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Posted on Mon, Aug 8, 2011 : 3:30 p.m.

University of Michigan graduate student research assistants don't have right to unionize, commission rules

By Kyle Feldscher

(This story has been updated.)

University of Michigan graduate student research assistants will not be allowed to unionize after a ruling today by the Michigan Employment Relations Commission.

However, officials from the university's Graduate Employees Union said they still anticipate going ahead with a vote to potentially bring the graduate student research assistants into the union.

The university’s board of regents voted in May to allow the graduate student research assistants to unionize, against the advice of university president Mary Sue Coleman. The decision was challenged by the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation in late July on behalf of Melinda Day, a graduate research assistant in the Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology Department.

The MERC decision upheld the 1981 decision that graduate student research assistants were not public employees. Patrick Wright, director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, said the decision was “a victory for the rule of law.”

“This resolution called for a public employee union election for a group of students who weren’t public employees in the first place,” he said in a statement. “The regents have no legal authority to expand the definition of public employees.”


University of Michigan graduate student research assistant Melinda Day

Courtesy of the Mackinac Center for Legal Policy

Graduate student research assistants had not made an official decision on whether to join the Graduate Employees Organization, the union that represents graduate student employees at U-M. As of late July, university officials were still in negotiations with the union on how to bring graduate student research assistants into the fold.

Ruthanne Okun, director of the MERC, said there was no evidence to cause the commission to believe that circumstances have changed since the 1981 decision to not allow graduate student research assistants to unionize.

"In other words, they were saying, ‘What’s different now?’” she said. “They (union officials) can’t, by consent, confer legal status on someone.”

She said there will not be a written decision released by the MERC immediately, although commissioner might decide to release one at the next meeting.

Okun said MERC made two rulings on Monday: The commission could not intervene in the election because there was no evidence that 10 percent of graduate student research assistants agreed with Day and the Mackinac Center. The second ruling upheld the 1981 decision that graduate student research assistants are not public employees.

However, union officials didn’t see the MERC ruling as the end of the road.

Samantha Montgomery, president of the Graduate Employees Organization, said the union plans to proceed with plans to allow graduate student research assistants to vote and decide if they want to join the union. She said the union believes the first portion of MERC’s ruling would allow the election to take place regardless.

“We’re pretty encouraged by MERC actually affirming the recommendation that (graduate student research assistants) should have an election,” Montgomery said. “We’re hoping to continue to keep working with the university to reach a finalized decision.”

Montgomery said the GEO was still figuring out how graduate student research assistants would be worked into the union if the election showed they wanted to unionize, given the commission’s ruling that they are not public employees and cannot unionize.

But, she said Monday’s ruling was just another step toward expanding the GEO.

“This is not the end,” she said.

But, for the time being, it seems to be a major roadblock for the union — one that could resonate for other state universities.

Wright said the decision will have lasting effects for graduate student research assistants at other state universities. He said there will now be an even firmer stance taken by MERC after twice deciding graduate student research assistants cannot become a part of a public employee union.

“MERC is going to hold that this is a question they’ve decided before and come to the same conclusion,” Wright said. “If someone really wants to get these kids into a public sector union, they’ll have to change what the definition of a public employee is. We don’t think that’s wise because we think these students are there for an education and their payment is more akin to financial aid than an employment relationship.”

Regents received the proposed resolution to allow graduate student research assistants to unionize about 20 minutes before the May 19 meeting at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Coleman advised the regents to vote against the resolution, saying it would put the graduate student research assistants’ relationships with their mentors into jeopardy.

It was a rare move for the regents to vote against Coleman’s advice, and the resolution to allow the unionization was approved by a 6-2 vote.

Day had characterized the decision by regents to allow graduate student research assistants as a “betrayal” in a press conference announcing the challenge to their decision. She said MERC’s decision would help avoid “forced unionization.”

“This is a welcome sign that not everyone is willing to toss aside the rights of students in order to appease special interests,” Day said.

University spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald said the university is waiting for the commission's written decision before making any additional moves.

"We are aware of the commission's vote today, but it's important to see the written decision before we can determine what the next steps may be," he said.

Regent Laurence Deitch, who voted in support of the resolution in May, declined to speak to when reached at his office.

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



Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 4:01 p.m.

Everything my fellow engineering students have said about NIH and pay floors is correct. And I might add, that the sense of entitlement among some of my fellow GSRA's in confounding. Getting a PhD degree from Michigan is a privilege, not a right. It's a personal choice, and certainly not a financial fallback plan for anyone. As an individual who wants to be known as a top-flight engineering doctoral student worldwide, I ask-- if being an engineering grad student in this environment is so terrible, why is MIT not unionized? Or CalTech? Or Stanford? Or any of the Ivies? Unionization may merely further allow Michigan to continue its descent from a top-10 national university as top-flight scientists choose other opportunities where their students won't be bound by mandatory punch-in's and punch-out's and similar students (who strive to be these future scientists) will choose to go to more open areas of academic research at schools with equal or better prestige where their tuition dollars aren't funneled into a grad student organization run by a handful of individuals on central campus for gains that will amount to nothing over what is currently offered to them.


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 11:46 p.m.

The use of "entitlement" is one I've heard a lot lately. Usually by those in positions of power who are trying to gut any protections and gains that have occurred allow accessing of people to a decent way of life. Who said it's a fall back? Who is getting rich off this? Look at what we make yearly, seriously. You're making a huge assumption that a, unionization, has a negative effect on b, quality of work of grad students. Excuse me...what? GSIs and GSSAs who often float back and forth to GSRAships have been unionized since 1975. This is one of the best universities in the world. Where is the mechanistic link between a and b? Union gains have an influence on quality of life. Whether you are eating roadkill at some un-unionized UK university or unionized and living a decent life somewhere else doesn't necessarily mean there's link to quality of work. In each scenario you still have to work hard to get ahead. If NIH provides maxima for sallary and the current sallary here is lower, why couldn't GEO bargain for that? Also, I don't think they cover everything right? Salary is just one slice of the pie. I've been trying to find more info on the NIH to understand their requirements. Do you know where to find it?


Thu, Aug 11, 2011 : 4:02 p.m.

Congratulations to Ms. Day--speaking up for her right to be exploited! How about we don't "force" anyone to unionize--nor prevent them from doing so? Would that not be democratic? What is it that so many fear about Unions? That maybe the workers will get a fair deal for a change? And really, what business does the Mackinac Center have in this situation anyway?


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 5:10 a.m.

I agree. If only GEO agreed with you as well. If that was the case, no student would spend their time on protesting or petitioning against holding union elections. Open shop, anybody?


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 7:05 a.m.

Regardless of how one feels about unions in general, it is important to note how this issue looks from GSRA's point of view. The GEO's push to unionize has sparked a lot of discussion in our labs and offices. Most people I talked to feel that GEO came out of nowhere. In practice, GEO tries to push unionization on people that feel first and foremost like student, do not wish to go on strike (since you will be striking on your own research), and are here mainly to GET A DEGREE (although we do get a modest stipend). This story is not about a grassroots movement to unionize that is being blocked by MERC. On the contrary, this is a GEO initiative that aims at collecting service fees. I attended several meetings the GEO held, and their representatives did not convince me otherwise. They could not give straight answers to many of our concerns, were not well informed about issues faced by GSRA, and at times became verbally violent when faced with opposition. Prior to being a grad student, I was employed by a large company and was very happy to be part of the union. This is not the same situation what so ever. With all due respect to people who politically identify with labor movements (and I am one as well), please be cautious and inform yourself of the real struggle here before forming an opinion. We prefer to be "not allowed to unionize" than to be forced to unionize and share our very small stipend with professional organizers that cannot really help us.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 2:56 a.m.

It is difficult to imagine that a university which depends on underpaid graduate students to carry out research on which faculty tenure and reputations depend can do without their work, but it will be "educational" to see the attempt made.

Carolyn Wang

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 8:03 p.m.

CRichmond, here is the fact: American universities and institutions pay a lot better than their peers in other countries. And because the researchers aren't asking for extravagant salaries and benefits, the limited funding can support more people in pursuit of research in arts and sciences. Graduate students aren't schoolboys/girls nor regular workers, they are independent researchers receiving government funding, and I think the money for research should neither be spent on coverage of transgender surgeries (as some organizations advocate) nor paying union dues. Also you need to understand that the major responsibility of a professor who manages a lab with 10 students and postdocs is to provide guidance and resources to the people that he/she is supervising/mentoring. I also personally know professors that will even do the bench work with/for the students to help with their research. Also don't ignore the fact that it's a free-market when it comes to choose your advisor. Some professors are known for their pushiness, and has a lab culture of hardworking. But many students still happily join the lab aware of this because of their academic interest and aspiration for excellent research (and hardworking is an indefensible element) So before demonizing the universities or professors, please check the facts first.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 7:52 p.m.

First of all, everyone who is shouting about the Mackinac Center (they may be evil for all I know, but they haven't actually done anything evil in this case) violating human rights and destroying our democracy, why don't you try pointing the finger at MERC, who actually made the ruling in the first place, back in 1981, saying that GRSAs are not employees and cannot unionize. Secondly, political agendas aside, MERC's ruling is law, and no matter how liberal (or not) you are, you can't just go around voting on legislation you dislike because you feel like it. For example, we can't just all stand up and decide that the drinking age should be 16 instead of 21, have everyone that cares vote, and upon generating 50%+1 "yes" votes, call it a day. Thirdly, GEO's and AFT's GSRA campaign tactics have been anything but representative of the type of organization I want to partake in, employee status or not aside. Not only do they knowingly misguide people by omitting important details, particularly the detail that ultimately, the GRSA's will fork over a few hundred dollars per year so that they can have "a voice" and some recourse in case the sky falls and the university decides to go on without them. Meanwhile, the GEO will use the dues money to push whatever political agenda they see fit, whether or not it represents the views of its forced membership. I, for one, am not willing to give up such a large portion of my "barely liveable" stipend for THAT. And lastly, I did not come to U of M for the AWESOME pay and benefits. I did not even know that GEO existed. All of the other schools I had to choose from offered me very comparable packages. I came to U of M for the research. We are one of the largest research universities in the country with one of the largest research budgets (if not the largest), of which 65% is federal money and approximately nothing comes from the state. THAT is not GEO's doing. My adviser and I are not awesome scientists beca


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 1:36 a.m.

MERC is helping with the election. I'm not sure what you mean by "voting on legislation you dislike." And, again, why do you think you have a stipend and insurance benefits? Because the University, out of the goodness of their hearts, decided you should? The only reason your pay is above inflation is because of GEO. And sure, the U could throw a few dollars to a few grad students if they wanted to recruit the extra-special ones (I'm thinking of U of Wisconsin here), but without the influence of unionization, most grad students here wouldn't have any benefits at all.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 10:40 p.m.

?? You can be dirt poor and be the most awesome artist who ever lived. I don't think there's a necessary link. A union is a means for workers to collectively bargain over the conditions of their work and compensation. In other words it's a means to a better quality of life. You still have to work hard.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 7:56 p.m.

...My adviser and I are not awesome scientists because of the awesome union.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 6:02 p.m.

The UN's "Declaration of Human Rights" (article 23) states everyone has the right to form and join trade unions. It'd be great if people like Day, our "leaders", and groups like Mackinac could join the rising tide of recognition of human rights and dignity in the world.


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 11:27 p.m.

That's cool that you did, but how did you come to have a lot of those benefits in the first place? I have no problem with the idea of an open shop if the union were not legally bound to provide services to everyone in the shop. It's incredibly draining on a union's resources to cover everyone if they don't have the resources to do it in the first place. It's like the university trying to train everyone to be a scientist and not having the money to do it. That's why it is a strategy being pursued by union busting strategists like Mackinac. There is a reason why the most vocal proponents of open shop are the powerful institutions and organizations funded by people like the Koch brothers. It is a strategy to gut labor pure and simple, not a strategy to increase choice. They make the costs of organizing high (union related firings have gone up, enforcement of protections has gone down) so people are scared to band together, then try to disembowel labor gains little by little. GEO's only priority is to improve and protect the way of life of grad workers. It is a non-profit who every contract cycle goes around in person to talk to many people as it can and develop a platform it can then use to talk to the university with. The people who do all of this are grad students. They are donating their time. I don't know where the myths of financial gain are coming from. It's interesting because it's all pure propaganda with nothing to back it up. GEO allows anyone to look at the books anytime. There are costs involved of course, it takes money to have arbitrators, legal advice, minimal staff (2) who can do leg work, have experience gathering info, organizing, etc, etc. Every non-profit that can get anything done has operating costs.


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 5:44 p.m.

Here's the thing. I'm pretty pleased with the benefits I am currently enjoying, and I am even more pleased with the fact that I don't have to pay any fee. It's incredibly irritating that union folk like to circumnavigate the truth with statements like, "you don't have to join, but you still have to give us your money because we make your life awesome." As many others have suggested, how about an open shop? HMM? Let me guess... "well, if you all join the union, you can then vote in an open shop arrangement." Yeah, sure, no way that will ever happen because even if GEO allowed it, AFT will do everything in its power to prevent such a thing. Also, disliking union tactics does not by any means imply that those of us who don't agree with GEO on any number of things "hate democracy." I, for one, would be perfectly okay with joining GEO and paying whatever dues if their sole agenda was protecting my rights and improving my working conditions, but that's not the case, is it?


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 10:47 p.m.

You have the right not to join. I'm sure you'll bring up the service fee... I'll just repeat what I said earlier: Unions, by law, have to represent everyone in the workplace, whether they join the union or not. I'm sure that's part of the reason for the service fee. It takes resources to bargain for a contract, to enforce an agreement, provide arbitration, etc. GEO is a nonprofit. You don't have to join, but you should never deny that you are reaping the rewards of people who have put in insane amounts of work so that you can enjoy a decent wage (that won't slip below inflation like the last offer from the university), health care (which the university wanted to make you pay more for last cycle), and other services (disabilities language was just won in a major victory). That may sound combative towards the university, but that's not the intent. It's to show that through collective bargaining, you gain the ability to have a say in those decisions. You may dislike unions, democracy, community participation....whatever your glitch and reasons, you should at least acknowledge the benefits you enjoy and the people who have worked so hard for little if any recognition."


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 9:22 p.m.

Indeed. How about having the right to not join? Seems like an equivalent right to me.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 7:11 p.m.

is having the right to form and join a trade union the same as requiring someone to join if they don't want to?


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 5:57 p.m.

I am relieved by the MERC ruling ... as a GSRA in biomedical sciences I no longer have to worry about wasting $430 in dues every year for a "voice", which is the only thing the GEO is actually offering to GSRAs in biomedical sciences and engineering!


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 6 p.m.

GEO did not bargain for that many benefits for us what so ever we have a set NIH standard and our program PIBS also sets our benefits not the GEO because my funding comes from a grant that comes from the NIH. Furthermore, NIH states that GSRAs should have healthcare and PIBS our program negotiates that we get healthcare NOT the GEO. They are a useless 3rd party that will interfere with myself, my PI and my program!! Furthermore, we did the math with the GEO and the GSRAs at several meetings and it would be $430 in yearly dues, maybe you should check the % of the salary the GEO is asking of us!


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 12:57 a.m.

It would be interesting to see what the disparity would be if you eliminated all the benefits GEO has bargained for. What would yearly healthcare costs be alone? Then if you took out all the salary increases we've gotten and kept just apace with inflation... The dues are a percentage. Not everyone would pay that. Not sure if your math is right either (looking at the dues structure right now). At 2 semesters of .5 appointment ayear, even if you were right, seems like a solid investment to me!


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 5:38 p.m.

"welcome sign that not everyone is willing to toss aside the rights of students in order to appease special interests." -Melinda Day So by completely undemocratic means, The Mackinac Center and Day remove the ability to even choose whether or not GSRAs want to unionize. Day is a Tea Party activist and the Mackinac Center is a think tank driven by corporate dollars and interests. Who is appeasing special interests? Who is the intrusive 3rd party? It's not hard to understand the basis for their hatred for democracy and unions.

Mindy Waite

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 5:21 p.m.

As a graduate student, I am sighing with relief. I came here to learn as a student, not to work as an employee, and I feel that I have been very fairly treated as a student during my time here. I don't believe graduate students are employees, and even if I did, I wouldn't want to join GEO. I'm sorry, but not all graduate students are for this initiative!

Mindy Waite

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 11:48 a.m.

It boils down to the fact that you think unionization is an efficient use of my income and I disagree.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 4:30 a.m.

"attacks on public ed funding, skyrocketing tuition, elimination of loan subsidies" Here's an idea, go get a job if all of these things worry you because that is the life of an academic. I consider myself fortunate that somebody is willing to give me money to seek out the answers to the intellectual problems that interest me. I get to study and do awesome and expensive experiments all day and they PAY me to do it. Increased health benefits, pay increases, tuition waivers? It's all bonus really. Silvanus, labor unions were initially created to protect employees who have no individual bargaining power - ie poor immigrants in NYC that were easily replaceable if they had a problem with the work environment or wages. But people like us are RECRUITED to come here and the University is in a position to provide us with the benefits to make it worth our while. If being a GSRA at Michigan was really just miserable before GEO came and saved us, it's a wonder that grad students ever agreed to come here in the first place.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 12:14 a.m.

So instead you can have an isolated anonymous one if you have any problems with your work conditions? The conditions of grad students are by no means assured and don't expect groups like Mackinac have your interests in mind. With universities increasingly looking like private corporations, the tanked economy, the attack on the rights of workers, the attacks on public ed funding, skyrocketing tuition, elimination of loan subsidies, declining research funding, the situation is not looking so good. You just might find one day a little solidarity can go a long way. Personally I take a lesson from everything labor unions have achieved in history (including GEO) and the relationship between societies with higher standards of living and unionization. Funny, democratic institutions seem to me the only REAL way to get your voice heard, but if you have some ideological problem with democracy, then this is a waste of time. @Katherine: All I see are maximum pay limits. The current bargained minimums do not exceed NIH. Why couldn't collective bargaining address levels under the maxima or other topics not addressed by NIH? Not saying you're off. Just going on what info I have found.

Mindy Waite

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 6 p.m.

Maybe that's a difference between you and me - I don't feel the need to have a unionized, anonymous voice in order to make myself heard.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 5:53 p.m.

For GSRAs in PIBS and I am sure in the engineering departments our basic standards are legally set by the NIH and a majority of our benefits are set by the NIH, what the GEO won for other GSRAs in other departments may be true but they cannot claim that for GSRAs in biomedical sciences!


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 5:42 p.m.

It's great that you've had a decent experience but maybe not everyone has and besides, that's but one part of the picture. Unionization provides a democratic process of participation and voice in the conditons that affect you. GSRAs already enjoy many of the benefits that GEO has won. There are some descrepancies such slightly lower minimum wage, which are worth thinking about. I don't understand this student vs. employee dichotomy. You can be both. Just like GSIs.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 4:18 p.m.

Are these "students" employees? Well, are they taxed like employees? i.e., pay payroll taxes and federal and state taxes? or is their compensation treated like a grant or scholarship. If the former, then they are employees and should be allowed to vote on union membership. If the latter, then they are students. - K.

gownie alum

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 4:29 p.m.

GSRAs are taxed like employees, just like graduate student instructors. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 3:44 p.m.

Better Title: It's 2011 in America. Worker rights no longer exist.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 3:09 p.m.

It seems as though it is not being recognized just how much support Melinda Day has from the GSRAs, especially in the biomedical sciences. Many grad students in basic biological and biomedical science like being categorized as students and are very happy with their current situation. GEO has received strong opposition from grad students in all of the information forums held for the Program in Biomedical Science. Other students that I have spoken with feel that GEO misrepresented themselves when they initially were trying gain support for the election and unionization of the GSRAs. Many of these students say that they would not have signed cards of support for unionization if they had had a clearer understanding of the situation earlier. I personally didn't come to grad school to work as an employee. I came here to learn, to receive training and to earn a degree. My studies excite me. A 60-80 hour week does not leave me feeling overworked, it leaves me with a strong sense of pride an accomplishment. This is a feeling that is shared by many of the students that I interact with on a daily basis. What's even better is that we don't have to take out loans to pay for our training. We're BEING paid and receiving excellent benefits. It is in the university's best interest to take care of it's students and it does. At least with regard to biological and biomedical science, the union unnecessary and unwanted. I would like to thank Melinda Day for all of her efforts in this matter.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 1:07 p.m.

Carolyn is right, and this is part of the problem with this unionization effort. The GEO/AFT have no concept whatsoever of the GSRA funding structure and research funding structure in the US in general. The U cannot tell my adviser to cut an RA because it doesn't get a vote. The only way you can get kicked out by the U is if you don't perform on par with Rackham's standards as a student. The profs get the money from the fed in the form of grants. The U takes overhead from that money (usually about 50%), the rest of the money is used for research expenses, including stipends, health benefits, tuition, travel, publications, necessary equipment, etc. etc. The U cannot go to a prof and tell him or her how to spend the research money. In fact, what you guys are actually proposing is that the GEO interfere with how grant money is spent, i.e. a change in the hiring process such that GSRA positions are &quot;announced&quot; in an open competition sort of format and have to abide by &quot;fair hiring rules&quot; or the like... which is a terrible idea due to the very personal nature of a student-mentor relationship in this case. Also, in the case of GSI's, the students are working a temporary position for an employer with whom they don't necessarily have a strong or lasting relationship. If you have a conflict with your adviser as a GSRA, and it is severe enough to require union intervention, you will NOT graduate under that adviser, and if you do, you will NOT have a fun time finding a job with the recommendation letter he/she will write. It's like marriage. Once the divorce lawyers come in, it's gotten ugly beyond repair. So no, you won't save the poor souls with adviser conflicts. They will just go on to find new advisers... which they can (and do) easily do without any union.

Carolyn Wang

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 3:39 a.m.

Mariella, I don't dispute that we are partially worker partially students, my point is, I don't think GEO is going to help with the situaiton. The sources of our funding is different from that of GSIs. The GSIs are paid by the University, the GSRAs are paid by their advisors research grants. If the advisors don't have sufficient grant money, most likely the GSRA will work as a GSI and get paid by the university (rightly covered by the GEO and pay their dues). In some instances they will have to graduate faster if the research grants are running out. In any of the scenarios above, the GEO is not going to be able to do anything to help the students as a GSRA, because they are not able to get the research funding for the faculty.


Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 1:28 a.m.

Smallstaff: Thanks for your response. On your first point: why do you think Michigan offers competitive funding in the first place? Part of the reason why GSRAs even get health insurance is because GSIs do. The university isn't stupid - they know that if they offer benefits to some grad students, and not others (or some years, and not others, if you GSI one year and RA the next) the RAs would be in a tizzy. You don't have to be unionized to reap the benefits of a union. Secondly, OK, so say you're no longer an RA. How are you going to pay tuition? Also, if you're a student, then why do you pay taxes on the paycheck the U cuts you? Undergrads do not pay taxes on scholarships; the money you get is earned income. You have to work to get income. You are a worker. Thirdly, that's fine if your adviser isn't a jerk. Not everyone is as lucky as you are, and what happens if the U tells your adviser s/he needs to cut an RA spot because the U is low on cash? And, as gownie alum pointed out, your acceptance letter is not a contract. You have no legal document stating you have a right to a position as an RA, and you also would have to pay out of pocket for a lawyer to argue your case (U legal insurance, which I believe all doctoral students get, does not apply if you are pursuing litigation against the U). This being said, you're entitled to your opinion. Personally, if I were you, I'd be worried. Government funding for academics is being cut left and right - just this year the Fulbright-Hays was cut, as was FLAS. If you're paid through grant money the U gets from the government, I would be very concerned.

gownie alum

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 10:15 p.m.

Just one note: an admission letter with a promise of guaranteed funding is not a legal contract. It may say you have guaranteed funding but you have no legal recourse if the funding falls through, the department restructures, etc.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 8:06 p.m.

Mariella, 1-Michigan uses stipends and benefits to remain competitive with other top tier universities so that they can recruit the best grad students. So yes, I believe my stipend and benefits are safe. Many students I know chose Michigan over Harvard, Yale and MIT. Michigan will want to keep it that way. Last, but not least, I have written documentation that accompanied my acceptance letter from my program that I will receive my current stipend and benefits for the entirety of my Ph.D. 2-I'm a student, I don't have a job that I might be afraid of losing. 3-My advisor isn't a jerk. I am a productive and responsible student, this is reflected in my transcripts and in my evaluations from my mentor. This is why he asked me to join his lab in the first place and has bent over backwards to keep me here since. Furthermore, an issue like this would be considered an academic matter and outside union action. 4-$2/hour and benefits. See #1. Yes, I still believe that the union is unnecessary.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 6:54 p.m.

Smallstuff: Do you really think, given the economic state of the country, that you will continue to enjoy the same pay and benefits in the coming years? You have absolutely no guarantee that you will have a job next year. You have absolutely no guarantee that your adviser won't hire a new grad student over you. You have absolutely no guarantee that you won't be paid $2/hour. You have absolutely no guarantee that you will continue to receive benefits. And if any of these things happen, what recourse do you have? You can't negotiate. You have no bargaining power. Do you *really* think the union is unnecessary?


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 5:59 p.m.

&quot;Why is it that the Reps and the Dems feel that it is constantly necessary to tell everyone what to do? Why not simply let people do as they wish, so long as their actions do not infringe the rights of others?&quot; You mean like the efforts of many in both camps to write legislation that takes even the ability of people to unionize if they so choose? This action by Mackinac and Day, and the ruling itself, DO infringe on the rights of others. The UN's &quot;Declaration of Human Rights&quot; (article 23) states everyone has the right to form and join trade unions. It'd be great if our &quot;leaders&quot; and groups like Mackinac could join the rising tide of recognition of human rights and dignity in the world.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 4:42 p.m.

A grad student, speaking for him/herself and other makes a very clear statement about not wanting to join a union. However, some all-knowing liberals obviously know better. Why is it that the Reps and the Dems feel that it is constantly necessary to tell everyone what to do? Why not simply let people do as they wish, so long as their actions do not infringe the rights of others?

gownie alum

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 4:28 p.m.

The money you receive is not a scholarship if you are receiving it through a GSRA-ship. As with money from a GSI-ship, your money is taxed and treated like income. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 4:18 p.m.

I must clarify: the money we receive is a scholarship intended to do little more than cover living expenses, much in the same way that an undergraduate might receive a scholarship to cover housing an a meal plan.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 3:30 p.m.

You are being paid and are receiving benefits for working 60-80 hours a week....but are not an employee? Sounds like a trifling definition. If you quack like a duck....

gownie alum

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 1:07 p.m.

Why haven't any of these stories (here, or in any of the other pubs running stories about this issue) mentioned Day's own political background and history of right-wing activism in the state? She is far more than just an innocent research assistant unwittingly caught up in a union drive. Here's her speech at the 2010 Ann Arbor Tax Day Tea Party rally: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Here's her speech at the 2011 Michigan Freedom to Work (for less) conference: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> (she acts as their spokesperson: see also <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>. [BTW, supporting &quot;freedom to work&quot; implies that you're a WORKER, but nevermind the semantics.] Here's some coverage of her bid for Washtenaw County Commissioner (8th district): <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Please stop reporting on this like she's just a plain ol' student. She's an ideologue who wants to drastically alter this state. Rather than try to grassroots organize among her student peers, she went to an ideological organization to get the press' attention. And you're giving it to her unquestioningly. Day probably should not have CHOSEN to come to school in a union state. She had a CHOICE, presumably--staying in Arizona may have been better for her. But why did she probably choose UM? Probably because of the funding package. And why was her funding package probably good enough for her to choose UM? Because of what GEO has negotiated in the last &gt;30 years.


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 5:49 p.m.

Mariella, then why are Harvard, MIT, CalTech, Stanford, etc. &quot;better research schools&quot;? Also because of GEO? I hear the money is pretty good there to... Actually, there's also UMass-Amherst, which is... not on part with UM in any respect, save for the polymer science program, and oh... the money isn't so good either, but HEYYY they have a union, so what gives?


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 6:49 p.m.

Part of the reason Michigan is a better research school is because the money is better. Why is the money better? GEO.

gownie alum

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 1:58 p.m.

I'm sure it's got to do with both.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 1:14 p.m.

yeah, it must have been that last thing, probably had nothing to do with Michigan perhaps being a better research school.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 11:43 a.m.

It looks like the students will be forced to not be able to participate in a democratic election to decide their own fates. Classy.

Will Warner

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 11:24 a.m.

&quot;My guess is that Melinda Day is simply a willing, photogenic, pawn for the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation's relentless attack on Unions.&quot; &quot;No doubt. Little does she understand that she's undermining her own interests. Sad...&quot; As they say, there are two kinds of people: Those who believe they can perform at a level that places them above the need of the coercive protection of a union, and those who believe they are not that good. Those in the later group must further believe that because they require the coercive protection of a union, everyone must. Trying to avoid facing some unpleasant facts about themselves, those in the second group simply can't imagine how someone's self-interest could be served by NOT being lumped in with the masses who tend to protect themselves by holding back others. Whether you know it or not, unions always impose UPPER limits on productivity: If I don't what to work that hard, by God, she's not going to either; I would look bad by comparison.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 12:51 p.m.

Will, I do hope that you never require a fire fighter or police officer. If you do, make sure you express your notions explaining how lazy they are and how they require protection from being productive.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 12:47 p.m.

I have worked in union and non-union shops/offices. I find people to be the same, regardless of their affiliation. After having worked in a &quot;right-to-work&quot; state, the BIG difference is pay and standard of living. Another difference I found was that in Virginia workers were required to set aside safety concerns far too often. Have unions in the past taken too much for too little work? Sure. But, if you have been paying attention, unions have been one of the few groups of people willing to give back. CEO's, CFO's, administration and the so-called &quot;top earners&quot; have been totally unwilling to give back to the society that allows them to succeed. Why is it that in &quot;right-to-work&quot; states there is actually no right to a job?

Will Warner

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 12:06 p.m.

My &quot;notions&quot; were formed over years of trying to keep manufacturing going while overcoming interference from people who had other priorities, to put it mildly. Is it possible, Clownfish, that your notions are the ones that were formed without actual exposure to unions? Try doing work that is not in your "job classification" and see what happens.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 11:50 a.m.

Do you have any facts to back up your preconceived notions of unions? GM's union run plant in Oshawa was the most productive auto plant in the nation prior to mgmt deciding to close it down. According to The Harbour Report North America, 2008, the top ten most productive auto plants in North America are UAW or CAW.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 2:18 a.m.

So, people who provide childcare services indepnedently abd receieve a payment for those services can be forced into a union, but these people can't be organized on their own volition?


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 12:46 a.m.

How about this title: Graduate Assistants Latest Victims of Attack on Rights of Working People. What do you think? Too wordy?

Milton Shift

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 1 a.m.

Too honest for a right wing paper dominated by conservative rhetoric.


Mon, Aug 8, 2011 : 10:46 p.m.

How about the Title: University of Michigan retains AAA rating while Graduate student research assistants starve!


Fri, Aug 12, 2011 : 10:05 p.m.

You have GOT to be kidding me. You poor slaves of the Ivory Tower. Your future is so bleak that I'm holding back tears just imagining it. Talk about &quot;first world problems.&quot;

Mindy Waite

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 11:22 a.m.

If you're getting your PhD, you don't have a lack of opportunities.

Milton Shift

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 9:42 p.m.

Not a surprise, but does it make it right? Agreeing to something doesn't make it not exploitive. Big companies make big bucks off of discoveries in university research labs, whether directly or indirectly, and those making these discoveries are paid less than minimum wage for their labor. Coal miners in late 19th century England suffered under horrific working conditions and were paid virtually nothing. They agreed &quot;freely&quot; (due to lack of other opportunities - the same reason many are going back to grad school) to take these jobs. I think we can all agree they were being exploited for profit.

Mindy Waite

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 5:22 p.m.

We all knew what we were getting in to when we joined graduate school. Are the pay and the hours really that big of a surprise to everyone?

Milton Shift

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 12:25 a.m.

The sad truth. Try raising a kid (unless you want to wait till your 30s) on 6 bucks an hour while never being around, which is what $25,000 a year at 80 hours a week comes to.

David Paris

Mon, Aug 8, 2011 : 10:28 p.m.

My guess is that Melinda Day is simply a willing, photogenic, pawn for the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation's relentless attack on Unions.

gownie alum

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 12:41 p.m.

Less likely a pawn than a Tea Party activist who sought out the auspices of the Mackinac Center because she hasn't had luck convincing people of her nonsensical message on her own (&quot;GSRAs aren't public employees b/c they don't work for the Univ b/c they are funded by federal grants&quot;....ok sure, &quot;federal grants&quot; are public money as far as I know but ok..her paychecks also come from UM as far as I know but ok). I don't know why none of these reporters seem to have ever done a simple Google search on Melinda Day but she has been an active Tea Party activist, Tea Party candidate (for Washtenaw County Commissioner, which she lost), and Right to Work activist since her time in Michigan. See below.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 7:06 a.m.

Oh, yeah, we know that it is a relentless battle with the likes of you. Equal partner with Mackinac Center? Union busters. Well, the fights barely begun. Without representation, we are under the thumb of corporate America. We will not let this stand!

David Paris

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 2:12 a.m.

Chase, thanks for the reply. I think I also got right this half of my post, as well: &quot;the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation's relentless attack on Unions.&quot; As you know, deep pockets are controlling the public interests all across the country, you can't blame me for thinking that MCLF made first contact, can you? Either way, my apologies to Ms Day.

Milton Shift

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 12:26 a.m.

No doubt. Little does she understand that she's undermining her own interests. Sad...

Chase Ingersoll

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 12:22 a.m.

David: The only thing you got right there, is that she is photogenic. Her academic credentials, upbringing as the child of parents who were both university academics and small business and questioning personality, make her the kind of person that rather than being a pawn is an equal partner with Mackinac Center on such issues. And isn't that what would really frighten you - if educated, independent minded people, who long before ever hearing of the Mackinac Center, developed the same opinion on issues and are out there ready to fight those battles with or without the legal assistance of the Mackinac Legal Center Foundation. Just know that we will never quit fighting on these issues, so be prepared for a life long battle. WE ARE.


Mon, Aug 8, 2011 : 10:14 p.m.

It is interesting to note that the ability to unionize is conflated with forced unionization. Perhaps it isn't too revealing that the MCLF and a former GOP candidate are consumed in union busting however, it is disappointing that the article doesn't point out this blatant doublespeak. Greg, while I agree that GSRAs learn valuable skills from their advisors, they are not unique in this respect. Many jobs require learning new material, whether it be from a mentor/advisor or self taught. That the work benefits the worker should not preclude unionization. If it would indeed be self-defeating for GSRAs to engage in a work stoppage, then I doubt the group would be very eager to do so. Even if they are, as adults engaged as employees, that is no reason to withhold their rights. One final note, I find it strange to see so many references to apprenticeships in these discussions. An apprenticeship, as defined by the federal Department of Labor, is not exclusive to unions. In fact several unions administer their own apprenticeship programs. It is surprising how few of the objections raised actually address the issue of whether graduate students are employees or not. Instead, people bang on about 'union this' and 'union that.' I disagree with the MERC's decision and think that it does not reflect reality. GSRAs are referred to as employees by the University, paid as employees, expected to produce results like employees and (at least in my department) subject to performance reviews like employees.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 7:02 a.m.

Snapshot, why don't you go get a job that doesn't give you weekends or holidays off, works you 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no benefits, no sick time, no vacation time and an unsafe workplace. A job where you have to endure abuses for fear of losing your job to a younger person, more willing to work for a lesser wage and where you cut corners in order to meet unrealistic quotas. Because that's what you're advocating. No union, no protection from abuse or exploitation. That's what you're saying, right? If not, please clarify your position, because I'd like to know how you'd protect yourself from employer abuse without the representation of numbers that a union is all about.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 3:03 a.m.

I don't think any public emplyee should have the right to unionize, in fact I consider an illegal activity creating a conflict of interest. I'm all for &quot;busting&quot; public employee unions.


Mon, Aug 8, 2011 : 10:57 p.m.

Ah, in that case I suppose we disagree about whether GSRAs should unionize. I can understand the worry about abuse in that situation, however I prefer to think that the &quot;leaders and the best&quot; would be capable of exercising power wisely. Of course, it would seem the MERC would rather we not even have the ability to make such a decision ourselves. The difference between training as a GSRA as opposed to in a real job still seems non-distinct. Perhaps the intent is different, but the end result is the same: people interviewing for new jobs offer their experiences from their past as qualifications. Yes, apprentices under programs administered by unions do not have a separate union representing them, however they do have voting rights. Regardless, my intention was not to say that GSRAs are equivalent to such apprentices, but rather that an apprenticeship is by no means exclusive to union membership.

Greg McGraw

Mon, Aug 8, 2011 : 10:35 p.m.

I never said that GSRAs should not have the right to unionize. I am saying that it would not be in their interest to do so. That's what I meant by a bad idea defeated for a bad reason. On the job training for GSRAs is different from most jobs in the sense that we are supposed to take what we learn with us to future employers. It is an apprenticeship. As you've mentioned unions do administer their own apprenticeship programs. They don't have an outside union representing apprentices.

Greg McGraw

Mon, Aug 8, 2011 : 9:32 p.m.

Grad students may joke about being indentured servants and maybe a few misguided souls really believe it. In reality, we're more like apprentices. Professors certainly do benefit from grad student labor, but grad students learn valuable research skills from their professors. It would be self defeating for a grad student to participate in a work stoppage to protest the conditions of their apprenticeship, since doing so would only prolong it. Anyway, there's no trade where apprentices have a separate union or an adversarial bargaining relationship with masters in the same field. Grad students are definitely employees. They work hard and their work brings money into the University. On the other hand, a researcher union organized under the aegis of GEO was a horrible idea. Guess all's well that ends well. A bad idea gets defeated for a bad reason.

Carolyn Wang

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 3:12 a.m.

David Paris, Here is a clue why the Regents feel this effort worthwhile: AFT contributed $6 mln to democratic candidates last year. 6 out of 8 representatives of the Regents are democrats.

David Paris

Mon, Aug 8, 2011 : 9:54 p.m.

Greg, I'm outside, looking in, but my guess is that there is a pre-existing adversarial relationship somewhere in there already, or this unionizing attempt wouldn't have gotten as far as it did in the first place. The Regents must have seen something that they feel made this effort worthwhile. Feel free to enlighten me, otherwise.


Mon, Aug 8, 2011 : 9:10 p.m.

"If someone really wants to get these kids into a public sector union, they'll have to change what the definition of a public employee is.&quot; Last I checked, people in their late 20s and 30s+ aren't considered &quot;kids,&quot; but many do have kids of their own to take care of. Stay classy, Mackinac Center.

David Parker

Mon, Aug 8, 2011 : 9:08 p.m.

a better title is: Law Upheld and University of Michigan graduate student research assistants are not forced to unionize, commission rules


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 6:17 p.m.

Unions, by law, have to represent everyone in the workplace, whether they join the union or not. I'm sure that's part of the reason for the service fee. It takes resources to bargain for a contract, to enforce an agreement, provide arbitration, etc. GEO is a nonprofit. You don't have to join, but you should never deny that you are reaping the rewards of people who have put in insane amounts of work so that you can enjoy a decent wage (that won't slip below inflation like the last offer from the university), health care (which the university wanted to make you pay more for last cycle), and other services (disabilities language was just won in a major victory). That may sound combative towards the university, but that's not the intent. It's to show that through collective bargaining, you gain the ability to have a say in those decisions. You may dislike unions, democracy, community participation....whatever your glitch and reasons, you should at least acknowledge the benefits you enjoy and the people who have worked so hard for little if any recognition.

Rork Kuick

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 2:01 p.m.

But Parker's &quot;forced to unionize&quot; was false, agreed?


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 12:40 p.m.

Bear, I was both a GSI and a GSRA. If any of your GSI friends truly were GSIs, have them check their paycheck and they'll notice that dues were taken out for GEO. Stephen is correct, that the way labor laws work in this state, if there is a union that represent a certain group of employees, all employees must be affiliated with the union (or something to that effect, you can look it up). Don't believe me? Here's part of an email I got shortly after becoming a GSI: &quot;The contract negotiated by the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) and the University requires that all GSIs and GSSAs pay either Union dues or a representation-service fee to the Union. In that our records indicate that you have not authorized a payroll deduction for this purpose, you are responsible for direct payment of the amount to the GEO. Individuals who are delinquent in the payment of union dues or representation- service fees to the union may not be re-hired by the University until any such dues or fees have been paid.&quot; That doesn't exactly sound like a choice to me.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 6:53 a.m.

Uhm, JD, I've known a lot of GSI's and none of them were forced to join anything. In fact, they wholly supported the GEO and felt they were representing them well and protecting them from being ruthlessly exploited. I disagree with your stated opinion.


Mon, Aug 8, 2011 : 11:02 p.m.

JD: You won't have to join if the majority of GSRAs vote &quot;no.&quot; If you're so against unionization, then vote &quot;no&quot; and encourage others to do so. But if GSRAs vote in favor of unionization, it means that a majority wanted to be unionized. There's no &quot;force&quot; at work here besides the &quot;force&quot; of your fellow GSRAs.

Stephen Landes

Mon, Aug 8, 2011 : 10:47 p.m.

Yes, forced. Students not wishing to be part of a union would be forced to join because of the antiquated &quot;union shop&quot; rules in this state. If we had &quot;right to work&quot; then I would have no problem with those who want to join a union doing so as those who didn't want to join would not have to.


Mon, Aug 8, 2011 : 10:46 p.m.

Yes, &quot;forced&quot;. Just because I may choose to vote note doesn't mean I won't have to join. They'll still make me and all future GSRAs join the union (just like they do with GSIs).


Mon, Aug 8, 2011 : 9:20 p.m.

&quot;Forced?&quot; Actually, they would have voted on it. But don't let the facts get in the way of your opinion.


Mon, Aug 8, 2011 : 8:24 p.m.

&quot;we think these students are there for an education and their payment is more akin to financial aid than an employment relationship&quot; - Patrick Wright It's more like they are indentured servants, where the students supply the intellectual power and effort, while losing all intellectual property rights and the ability to transfer those intellectual discoveries made by them to their own futures.

Carolyn Wang

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 : 3:02 a.m.

I am a GSRA, I am paid $25,000 a year with full healthcare coverage. I am working 40~60 hrs per week, and I have no complaints about it Because I know, as my classmates (or colleagues as you call), I am here for academic training, not for high wage and welfare. More importantly, I understand my tuition and stipend come from tax payers money (federal and state education funding), and I don't want to bankrupt the State government when the budget is already under huge pressure in the difficult current situation. Interestingly, the people who are most avid about GSRA unionization aren't the GSRA themselves. None of the GSRAs I know support the unionization. It is the American Federal of Teachers (AFT) staff that are running around campus asking GSRAs for membership signatures (I signed the membership card out of naivety since I thought union had a good cause, but later I learnt they don't). According to the current rules, I'd pay $400 every year union dues, and a big chunk of that money will go to the AFT for political campaigns. I personally strongly against wasting my hard earned stipend (from tax payer money) for political purpose. What's more, even before the unionization vote, I've already got the spam email from AFT asking for support of their wage bargaining with the Detroit government. I don't want to be associated with this highly politically active union. So, please stop wasting our time in this meaningless discussion of GSRA unionization, and let us get back to research, working towards our degree, and make some contribution to the society.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 9:50 p.m.

Yes, Milton, our lives are so hard that we cry ourselves to sleep every night. Oh, and the utter misery of graduate school came as a complete surprise to all of us poor souls who THOUGHT it was going to be all puppies and rainbows for 5 years. I LOVE my GSRA position. My adviser is a brilliant scientist and a generally decent human being. I work as many hours a week as I desire (though 9-5 is expected), as long as it produces publishable results at a reasonable rate (which is more mandated by the academic progress standards set by Rackham than my boss's presumed greed for more publications faster). I own a goddamn condo, a relatively new car, travel, play sports, go out, take vacations all on that measly $25k (and yet with a stellar credit score). Oh, I also get sick days when I'm sick, and openly discuss anything I might ever want or need to with my &quot;employer,&quot; including my funding, which I sometimes have to assist in acquiring by presenting my work, etc. Why should I want a union? The GEO would say &quot;don't you are about all those OTHER people who ARE suffering?&quot; No, I don't. No one forces you to get a freaking Ph.D. Talk about entitlement...

Milton Shift

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 12:22 a.m.

Entitlements? Have you ever been a GSRA? They are employees, not students. Graduate students will take 1-2 classes for 1-2 years and then become a GSRA full time, WORKING 80+ hours a week, no classes, no vacations, low pay. With these hours they're making 6 bucks an hour with a $25,000 annual stipend - less than minimum wage. They are junior faculty, and criminally underpaid. Do you tell employees that have been at your company for 5 years that they're getting an education and should be thankful they don't have to take out loans for the privilege of working there? That's what GSRAs have to listen to, the product of uninformed minds and malice.


Mon, Aug 8, 2011 : 9:06 p.m.

GSRAs have the same intellectual property rights as faculty. When a graduate student or a professor makes an invention in the course of what the University pays them to do (e.g., research), then the University has the right to patet that invention, with a substantial share of any licensing revenue going to the inventors, no matter whether they are GSRAs or faculty. And GSRAs are routinely listed as co-inventors on patent applications, in fact Tech Transfer makes sure that anyone who participates in an invention is on it. No abuse of GSRAs here as far as I can tell. In fact, a number of former GSRAs have started their own companies with IP developed as grad students.


Mon, Aug 8, 2011 : 8:48 p.m.

Max its all about entitlements. The posters above would have you believe these folks all have scars from the whippings they take for proforming at a high enough level.

Max Peters

Mon, Aug 8, 2011 : 8:29 p.m.

1. GSRAs do not pay tuition. Their major professor does out of grants. 2. They are paid and receive excellent health benefits. 3. Lose intellectual property? Most programs have a publication requirement that must be met prior to defending their thesis. I wonder how many indentured servants / slaves /pick your term, receive a PhD from a world class research university in the end... Get a clue, Dcam.


Mon, Aug 8, 2011 : 7:50 p.m.

Blocking a democratic vote - seems fair to me and in line with what our 'democracy' (kleptocracy by the rich) now translates to. We need to be told when to vote, who to vote for so this is the next logical step - why waste time and money when our 'leaders' already know who we should have voted for?

Charlie Brown's Ghost

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 5:12 p.m.

You're absolutely right. For example, seeing how the people of Ann Arbor usually vote, and how the people of the US voted in 2008, I would say plenty of guidance is sorely needed.


Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 3 a.m.

Some folks need to be told what where when and how or they tend to stray way off course. Like this union declaring a non public employee having no choice to become a member of a public emplyees union. It seems union leaders want to maike their own law, rules, waste the taxpayers money contesting ridiculous logic.