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.