graduate student research assistants

U of M GEO

The issue of whether or not certain University of Michigan graduate students can unionize is back in the news.

Two graduate students at the University of Michigan have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in an effort to overturn a new state law that prohibits U of M graduate student research assistants, or GSRAs, from collective bargaining.

Public Act 45 effectively says GSRAs are primarily students, not public employees, and therefore don’t have the right to form a union.

Sam Montgomery is with the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO), a labor union at U of M. She says the law violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. constitution:

"It singles out this group of individuals and withholds them from a right that is granted to other public employees without giving a rational based in fact as to why they are not employees."

Last May, the U of M Board of Regents voted 6 to 2 to recognize the university's roughly 2,200 GSRAs as public employees with the right to vote to form a union.

The Michigan Employment Relations Commission found otherwise in a 1981 ruling. The Commission was in the middle of holding its own administrative hearing on the issue when Governor Snyder signed Public Act 45 into law.

GEO

University of Michigan graduate student research assistants (GSRAs) have wanted to hold a vote asking other GSRAs whether or not a union should be formed for decades.

In the past, they've been prevented from holding a vote because the Michigan Employment Relations Commission has not allowed a vote to go forward.

Most recently they were prevented from doing so because of a new state law banning GSRAs from forming unions at public universities in Michigan.

But the timing of when that new law goes into effect has been hotly contested in the courts.

It's a long, sordid tale that involves parliamentary rules in the State House.

An Ingham County judge had ruled the law cannot go into effect immediately, so the Commission scheduled a vote on the UM GSRA unionization vote.

But the Court of Appeals stayed the Ingham County judge's ruling on Monday, restoring the immediate effect of the GSRA unionization ban.

So today, the Michigan Employment Relations Commission decided to table a vote on whether to allow the UM GSRAs to go forward with a unionization vote.

In a 2-1 vote, the Commission said any action they take on the issue would be moot because of the latest court ruling.

U of M GEO

The issue of whether University of Michigan graduate student research assistants (GSRAs) can unionize has been put to rest. Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill today saying U of M research assistants are not employees and therefore do not have the right to unionize.

The bill was introduced to the legislature by Republican Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville.

Photo courtesy of UM GEO

The University of Michigan Regents voted today to oppose a Senate bill that would prohibit certain U of M graduate students from joining a union.

courtesy of Richardville's office

The drama over University of Michigan graduate student research assistants and whether or not they can unionize continues to unfold, this time with State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville weighing in.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

    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."