Senate Bill: GSRAs Get No Bargaining Rights

A bill introduced  by state Senate majority leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) on Feb. 15, 2012 would make explicit that graduate student research assistants are not entitled to collective bargaining rights under Michigan’s Act 336 of 1947. From SB 971: “An individual serving as a graduate student research assistant or in an equivalent position and any individual whose position does not have sufficient indicia of an employment relationship is not a public employee entitled to representation or collective bargaining rights under this act.

If eventually passed by both the Michigan house and senate and signed into law, the amendment to the bill could resolve the question currently being debated on the University of Michigan campus about the organization of that institution’s graduate student research assistants into a union.

The UM board of regents passed a resolution on May 19, 2011 supporting the right of GSRAs to determine whether to organize. The resolution passed over the objection of UM president Mary Sue Coleman and with dissenting votes from the board’s two Republican regents. At the board’s Jan. 19, 2012 meeting, three faculty members and one student spoke during public commentary, voicing objections to the effort to unionize GSRAs. The regents hold their monthly meeting today (Feb. 16) at 3 p.m. in the Fleming administration building on UM’s central campus.