unions

Education
4:15 pm
Wed March 7, 2012

Michigan legislature passes school union dues bill

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Update 4:15 pm

The Michigan legislature has passed a bill to prohibit public schools from automatically collecting union dues from the paychecks of teachers and other employees.

Republican Representative Joe Haveman says the bill’s intent is to focus schools on educating children.

 “The focus of our school administration has to be on teaching the kids.   Let’s get out of the business of collecting bills for other people," says Haveman.

Critics complain the real intent is to weaken teachers’ unions.

Read more
Commentary
11:44 am
Wed March 7, 2012

Going for Broke

For weeks, I heard rumors that a coalition of unions were going to try to get a state constitutional amendment on the ballot to prevent the legislature from making Michigan a so-called "right-to-work" state. That is, one where workers could no longer be required to join or pay dues to a union. Well, the unions revealed their proposal yesterday.

Read more
History
5:05 pm
Mon February 6, 2012

Unions, politics, and right-to-work

With the passage of so called right-to-work laws in Indiana, some Michigan lawmakers are now calling for those laws in Michigan.

Lawmakers in support of right-to-work laws say they’ll make Michigan a more business friendly environment.

Opponents call it union busting and an effort to weaken unions’ political power.

Michigan Radio’s political analyst, Jack Lessenberry gives us a historical perspective.

Politics
5:19 pm
Wed February 1, 2012

Michigan Attorney General files request to stop hearing on U of M grad student unions

Members of the Graduate Employees Organization picketing on the North Campus of the University of Michigan in 2008. Many University administrators and deans maintain these research assistants are not "employees."
U of M GEO

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.

But the hearing was held today despite the request, and is scheduled to continue tomorrow.

Read more
manufacturing
2:01 pm
Wed February 1, 2012

VP Joe Biden: America "will lead the world in the 21st century in manufacturing"

Vice President Joe Biden greets workers at American Seating Company in Grand Rapids after his 40 minute long speech Wednesday.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Vice President Joe Biden says good paying manufacturing jobs are vital to the U.S. economy and the American Dream of home ownership and upward mobility.

Biden made his comments following a tour of American Seating Company in Grand Rapids. The company has been making seats for busses, trains and stadiums in West Michigan for more than a century.

“It’s not the only source of good paying jobs but I see no way in which we can meet that American commitment to that dream unless we once again reestablish ourselves as the manufacturing hub of the world with high end products,” Biden said.

Read more
Politics
3:12 pm
Tue January 31, 2012

Union dues bill approved by Michigan House panel today

It passed out of committee, now the Michigan House of Representatives will take up the measure.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

Employees in unionized workplaces would have to annually renew their written consent allowing union dues to be deducted from their paychecks under legislation approved by a Republican-led Michigan House committee today.

More from the Associated Press:

The proposal approved Tuesday by a 4-2 party line vote in the House Oversight, Reform and Ethics Committee is opposed by Democrats and unions who consider the legislation unnecessary and an attack on labor organizations.

Supporters of the bill say it wouldn't allow employees to avoid paying a "fair share" contribution or fee related to operating a union. But it would give workers more control over whether money is collected for political activities or other functions.

In Michigan, employees in unionized workplaces have the option of opting out on part of their union dues.

Michigan Radio's Lester Graham provided an example of this in his report last week.

He spoke with Terry Bowman, a person who considers himself a "'union conservative":

Right now, by law, he’s required to pay union dues. He has the option of not being part of the union, but he still has to pay what’s called an agency fee. The agency fee covers the cost of the union’s collective bargaining and grievance handling.

It’s slightly less than regular union dues because it does not include money that’s used to make direct political contributions.

The measure to force annual written consent for union paycheck deductions advances to the House floor.

Politics
4:09 pm
Tue January 24, 2012

Rep. Mike Shirkey defends "right-to-work" legislation

gophouse.org

CORRECTION - An earlier version of this story stated that Right To Work legislation had already been introduced in the Michigan House. It has not. Representative Shirkey plans to introduce the legislation soon.

 

Right-to-work laws would prohibit workers from being required to join a union or pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment.

Republican Rep. Mike Shirkey plans to introduce right-to-work legislation in the House.

Read more
Politics
4:40 pm
Wed January 18, 2012

UM grad student claims lost job over union effort

Members of the Graduate Employees Organization picketing on the North Campus of the University of Michigan in 2008. Many University administrators and deans maintain these research assistants are not "employees."
UM GEO

Update 4:26 p.m.

Jennifer Dibbern, the former University of Michigan graduate student, spoke at a press conference this afternoon on U of M's north campus.

Dibbern worked as a graduate student research assistant while pursuing her doctoral degree in Materials Science and Engineering at the U of M.  She was also involved in the effort to form a union for research assistants.

Dibbern claims her advisor pulled Dibbern’s funding and kicked her out of the program because of her union activities:

"I think my story is one clear reason why we as research assistants need a union," says Dibbern. "I would really hope that me being able to come forward and talk with you all prevents this from happening to any other person, any other research assistant at this university."

There is an ongoing dispute over whether graduate student research assistants (GSRAs) have the right to organize. The U of M Board of Regents last May recognized RAs as public employees who have the right to vote to decide for themselves whether they want to form a union. That's in contrast to a 1981 decision by the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC). GEO, the graduate employees union, is seeking to get that MERC ruling overturned. Trial hearing dates are set for Feb. 1-3, 2012.

Dibbern says she came to U of M because of its reputation as an excellent research institution, and she had hopes she'd get her doctorate degree. But she says because of the decision of her advisor, professor Rachel Goldman, she's no longer able to do that.

"My career path in the field that I’ve chosen and all the work that I’ve put into it has been lost; my career’s been ruined."

Rick Fitzgerald, a public relations official with the University of Michigan, was also at the press conference. He says Dibbern's case is "an academic matter" and by law can’t be discussed publicly. He says Dibbern’s claim that she was terminated is not true.

Dibbern claims she received positive feedback on her academic performance up until a few weeks before she was terminated.

Professor Rachel Goldman could not be reached for comment.

9:56 a.m.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - A University of Michigan graduate student claims she lost her job after supporting efforts to unionize graduate student research assistants.

The Detroit Free Press reports Wednesday that Jennifer Dibbern lost her research funding and was kicked out of her academic program. She tells the newspaper she wants to highlight a need to protect research assistants.

School spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said in a statement that "we believe certain of the union's factual claims are unfounded." He said the issue is an academic matter that the school is prohibited from discussing publicly.

Dibbern's work was in the College of Engineering.

The Michigan Employment Relations Commission in August affirmed a 1981 decision that bars research assistants from banding together. There's an ongoing dispute about whether that should be
overturned.

Commentary
12:04 pm
Wed January 18, 2012

Wrong time for right-to-work?

Governor Rick Snyder has no interest in attempting to make Michigan a "right-to-work" state, which means one where it is illegal for employers to sign labor contracts requiring their workers to pay union dues. But some Republicans in the legislature disagree, and may try to get a right-to-work bill passed this year.

There’s also the possibility of trying to put something on the November ballot, a constitutional amendment, perhaps, that would outlaw the union shop in this state. It’s unclear whether there is really going to be any serious effort to make that happen.

Read more
Politics
12:30 pm
Thu January 5, 2012

Michigan child-care workers lose union lawsuit

DETROIT (AP) - A lawsuit aimed at recouping millions in union dues paid by Michigan child-care providers has fizzled.

A federal judge in Grand Rapids has issued two key rulings, including a recent decision that said there simply are too many conflicts to make it a class-action case. Judge Robert Jonker says there may be child-care providers who had no objection to paying dues. An appeal is planned.

The case centered on the representation of 40,000 home-based workers. The union was created in 2006, although only 15 percent of providers cast ballots. During the Granholm administration, officials deducted dues from subsidies paid to people who watched low-income kids.

Critics said the workers are not public employees and got no benefit from the union. Gov. Rick Snyder's administration stopped the dues last year.

Read more
Politics
12:52 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Ex-union leaders sent to prison for labor dispute

DETROIT (AP) - Two former union officials have been sentenced to prison for threatening to prolong a strike against General Motors for personal gain.

Donny Douglas and Jay Campbell had been placed on probation, but the light punishments were overturned by an appeals court.

Douglas got 18 months in prison Monday while Campbell received a year and a day. They had been accused of threatening to extend a three-month strike at the Pontiac truck factory in 1997 unless a
friend and family member were hired for $150,000 jobs.

Prosecutors say it was akin to public corruption.

The appeals court overturned the original sentences because a judge failed to consider the financial loss suffered by GM when the two people were hired and many UAW members filed grievances.

Economy
5:10 pm
Thu December 8, 2011

Union groups protest looming unemployment benefits deadline

Protesters stand outside the Lansing office of Michigan Republican Congressman Mike Rogers
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Union members and others picketed outside the offices of Michigan’s Republican congressmen today to protest the lack of a deal to extend unemployment benefits.

About three dozen protesters waved signs at honking motorists outside Congressman Mike Rogers Lansing office. They were there to draw attention to a deadline looming at the end of the month.

Sixty-six thousand Michiganders may lose their unemployment benefits in January if an extension is not passed

Read more
Auto
7:30 am
Wed September 21, 2011

The latest on UAW contract negotiations

Union leaders at General Motors' factories across the U.S. are endorsing a tentative contract with the automaker. 

In an unprecedented press conference yesterday, UAW President Bob King discussed details of the 4-year-contract. The rank-and-file will vote in the coming days. General Motors is the first automaker to reach a deal with the UAW. And,  these negotiations are the first since the federal government stepped in to help GM and Chrysler through bankruptcy in 2009.

We caught up with Tracy Samilton, Michigan Radio's auto reporter, to talk about the tentative contract and what it means for GM, the UAW, and the state's economy.

Labor
10:18 am
Thu September 15, 2011

UM nurses to march this afternoon

Nurses at the University of Michigan have been working without a contract since July 1.
user meddygarnet Flickr

Registered nurses who work at the University of Michigan Health System and their supports say they will march to the University of Michigan Board of Regents meeting today at 2:30 p.m. They will start at the Michigan Union and "proceed to the Fleming Adminisration Building" (distance - about a block).

The Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) says the University of Michigan nurses have been working without a contract since July 1.

From an MNA press release:

Despite another profitable year and an increase in patients, UMHS have thwarted reasonable contract negotiations with the system’s 4,000 registered nurses by proposing cuts that would make it even more difficult for them to maintain patient care and safety.

The University has issued a statement in the past saying they "prefer not bargain in the media" and  "respectfully disagree" that proposed labor changes would have a negative effect on patient care.

Issues being debated include pay increases, health insurance, and benefits.

Politics
10:45 am
Wed September 14, 2011

Republicans vs. Teachers' Unions

Governor Rick Snyder has some intense opposition, but it hasn’t risen to the levels of protest against his two newly elected GOP neighbors and colleagues, Governors John Kasich in Ohio and Scott Walker in Wisconsin.

And there’s a reason for that. Snyder has been both politically smarter and less ideological than those men. He says he is interested in results, not in settling scores. He’s been pushing through reforms that haven’t made public employee unions happy.

But he says he is not interested in taking away the unions’  collective bargaining rights. Some of the more conservative Republicans in the legislature are trying to push so-called “right to work” legislation, which would outlaw union shops in Michigan.

But Snyder says he has no interest in that. Which, even if you are against unions, is very smart. Union membership and clout have been declining for years. They now represent barely seven percent of workers in the private sector.

Read more
History
5:07 pm
Fri September 2, 2011

Why we celebrate Labor Day

Participants in the 1960 Labor Day parade in New York. On Monday September 5, President Obama is expected to give a speech in Detroit.
The Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation & Archives

This Friday many of us head into a three day weekend that marks the unofficial end of summer. We might mark Labor Day with a family picnic, one last summer visit to the beach, or maybe with a mad scramble to get that last bit of school preparation done. But what is Labor Day really for? Joining us to take a look is Michigan Radio’s Political Analyst, Jack Lessenberry.

Economy
12:16 pm
Mon August 29, 2011

56 percent of local officials say unions are a liability to fiscal health

How do local leaders view unions? A University of Michigan survey says 56 percent of the local leaders they polled say unions are a liability to fiscal health.
UM Center for Local, State and Urban Policy

56 percent of local officials in jurisdictions that have unions believe the unions have been a liability to their jurisdictions' fiscal health, according to a survey released by the University of Michigan (43% reported "somewhat of a liability," and 13% reported "a significant liability").

The survey was conducted the Center for Local, State and Urban Policy from April 18 to June 10, 2011.

The Center says only 27 percent of Michigan's local governments have unions, but the vast majority of the state's population (98 percent) live in areas where their local governments have unionized employees.

The perception that these unions hurt a government's bottom line doesn't necessarily fall along party lines, according to the report:

Compared to Republican and Independent local leaders, Democratic officials are somewhat more positive about the fiscal impact of employee unions. But a surprisingly high 48 percent of the Democrats say unions have been a liability to their jurisdictions' fiscal health.

Thomas Ivacko told the Associated Press:

"It's a complex picture coming out from the local level," center administrator Thomas Ivacko told the AP. "Local leaders tend to say that having a union is hurting their fiscal health. . . . (But) the picture isn't all negative."

Despite the bad perception on overall fiscal health, the report says the respondents rated their relationship with the unions as generally positive:

60 percent of the local officials say the relationship between their localities and employee unions has been either good or excellent over the past 12 months, according to the statewide poll. Only 5 percent say the relationship was poor.

Education
1:13 pm
Sun August 21, 2011

CMU: Some bargaining progress, big gap on pay

Central Michigan University says there’s been some progress involving contract talks with the faculty union this weekend. The progress has been related to non-economic issues, but there’s still a big gap having to do with pay and benefits.

Talks took place Saturday. Classes are scheduled to start Monday on the Mount Pleasant campus.

The faculty union has a meeting planned Sunday afternoon to discuss whether or not to hold a job action. A job action could include a strike over the failure to reach a labor contract. The professors have been without a contract since June.

Politics
2:33 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Union groups protest outside Republican congressman's office

Members of the American Federation of Goverment Employees, Communications Workers of America and other groups picket outside Michigan Republican Congressman Tim Walberg's office in Jackson
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

About two dozen union members demonstrated outside the Jackson office of Republican congressman Tim Walberg. The protest was as much about the 2012 election as it was about the budget fight in Washington.   

Some passing motorists honked their horns, showing solidarity with protesters outside Congressman Tim Walberg’s office. The protesters, like teacher’s assistant Glenda Wells, say Walberg has sided too often with special business interests at the expense of working men and women. 

 “He says he’s for the  people…then he needs to prove it.” 
 

Politics
6:01 pm
Tue August 9, 2011

Unions promise to work together in state contract talks

Five public employee unions say they will bargain with the state as a single unit on economic issues. Governor Rick Snyder is asking the unions to find $260 million in savings.   

Cindy Estrada with the UAW says there is a common assumption that when the state asks for savings from unions, that means employee wages will be docked or workers will be laid off. But she says that should not be the case.  

“That doesn’t just happen by coming to workers and saying ‘you need to give back.’ It happens by looking at what are the real problems in the state.”         

Public employee unions representing more than half of the state’s workers say there are structural changes that should be made. And they say the changes could save the state more than Governor Rick Snyder asked for. Those changes include reducing the number of managers compared to frontline workers and fewer privatized contracts for public services.

Pages