Education
2:58 pm
Fri February 3, 2012

Supreme Court won't intervene in U-M grad student union effort

    The Michigan Supreme Court today rejected requests by the state attorney general and a g roup supported by a conservative think tank to intervene in effort to unionize graduate student research assistants at the University of Michigan.    

Michigan’s Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a request with the state Supreme Court to stop a hearing about whether certain graduate students at the University of Michigan can unionize.

Attorney General spokesman John Selleck says they "respect the decision of the Supreme Court."

"I'm happy that the Supreme Court denied the Attorney General's motion to intervene in our hearing," says Irene Yeh, a graduate student research assistant (GSRA) at the University of Michigan. "I'm glad it looks like GSRAs will have the right to decide whether we want to unionize."

From Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra's reported earlier this week:

At issue is whether U-M graduate student research assistants are considered students, or students and employees. If they’re employees, they have the right to unionize.

Sam Montgomery, president of the Graduate Employees' Organization (GEO), believes research assistants are employees.

"They receive pay, benefits, they pay taxes on their wages, they are eligible for Family Medical Leave Act; they are treated as employees by the university’s own policies," Montgomery says.

The U-M Board of Regents last May recognized the group as employees. But the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) found otherwise in a 1981 ruling. 

Schuette filed a request with the state Supreme Court to stop the hearing, after he was barred from the hearing by the state Court of Appeals.

Montgomery says Schuette's intervention "is just yet another attempt to cause delay or maybe disruption, and that may be his goal."

Montgomery says there are roughly 2,200 graduate student research assistants at the University of Michigan.