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Posted on Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 9:19 a.m.

In emergency meeting, U-M regents vote to oppose bill to ban GSRA unionization

By Kellie Woodhouse

The University of Michigan Board of Regents convened an emergency meeting early Tuesday morning and voted to oppose a bill in the Michigan Legislature that would ban graduate student research assistants from unionizing.

Regent Laurence Deitch said Senate Bill 971, which is scheduled for an 11 a.m. hearing today before the Senate Operations Committee, is unwarranted and called it " an “improper incursion” by the Legislature into the internal workings of the university, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The Michigan Employment Relations Commission is reviewing whether GSRAs can unionize. University administrators oppose unionization, but the Board of Regents voted to allow GSRAs to unionize in May. The matter is now before the commission, which recently tasked an administrative law judge with hearing testimony from GSRAs. University administrators are also expected to testify before the judge. After testimony concludes, the commission will vote on whether GSRAs can move to form a union.

Media were e-mailed about the meeting at 11:04 p.m. Monday. The Free Press reported the meeting was short and regents argued about whether calling it was appropriate.



Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 8:34 a.m.

This is the US, and anyone can form a union. This U should be glad there is no student unionization. If this vote passes, then all university students can form a union. Too bad that the U had to make such a big deal out of it! Now every student who works at the U will challenge the U for unions, and this could turn out real bad for students fees, and the tax payers. Greedy GSRA"S wants to make it even more difficult. I say they are students and they are getting experience to get a great job someday. Please don't mess it up for the next generation.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 9:52 p.m.

The Regents are motivated by a desire to maintain the University's autonomy. We have no idea how they feel about GSRA unionization.

Joe Kidd

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 7:12 p.m.

I thought the issue here was whether or not they were able to become "employees" and the UM was against that. I do not really care if they unionize or not as long as GSRA's can opt out if they wish.

Don Hardy

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 6:49 p.m.

Vote the socialist regents out


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 6:31 p.m.

Graduate assistants are not so much students as they are apprentices. They help perform skilled work in order to become practitioners themselves and are paid for their labors, though not as much as a permanent assistant would command if paid to do the same work. In every other occupation, apprentices are allowed to join unions, so why should universities be any different?

Martin Church

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 5:41 p.m.

Those who support the union, how about giving us the right not to belong. To hold the union leadership responsible for their actions by allowing us to say no to membership. Without the right to say NO, the unions have a monopoly on the rights of it's members and is unaccountable to anyone. next thing you know the students will have the right to walk out of class because they are not being paid to learn. Graduate students are temps. paying their Dues to learn the skills of a trade. it's time to fire the Regents and recall them from office. It would be nice to know what the votes were so we the voters and tax payers can hold these regents accountable for a waste of our tax dollars.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 7:25 p.m.

If you're going to allow some people to opt out of joining a union, it seems you also have to allow anyone who wants to form a union to do so at their workplace without requiring a majority vote. So ff 25 percent of the employees in a shop wanted to band together and form a union, and strike when their demands are not met, crippling the rest of the company, it seems you would have to allow them to do that.

Joe Kidd

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 7:13 p.m.

I should add if you have a good employer you don't need a union.

Joe Kidd

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 7:11 p.m.

I agree with Martin. An employee should have the right to refuse union membership. I have been in two unions and in one occasion I was treated much better by management. In the second instance when I was attacked by management, the union did nothing. Not even return my phone calls.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 6:32 p.m.

You do have a right not to belong. Simply apply at a nonunion shop or get your graduate degree at a university where graduate assistants are not unionized. No one's forcing you to do anything.

rusty shackelford

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

Isn't this the same problem as with their anti-gay thing w/r/t UM? State constitution gives the U autonomy in personnel decisions.

Joe Kidd

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 7:16 p.m.

And the state constitution gives the purse strings to the state. That autonomy is at times a fine line.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 4:26 p.m.

So much for the Regents protecting the interests of the University. Party politics raises its head again.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 4:07 p.m.

But whyyyyyyy?


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 3:13 p.m.

Thanks to the regents for standing with the thousands of GSRAs and GSIs across the state, some of whom are already union members, who do not want to be stripped of their collective bargaining rights.


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.

Well, I agree 0%! What now?


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 3:30 p.m.

Good post...I agree 100%


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

This really isn't a surprise coming from the Majority in Lansing. Who's decision is it anyway?