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Michigan Governor Signs Bill Reinforcing That Graduate Students Are Students, Not Employees
Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 3/14/2012 | Jack Spencer

Posted on 03/15/2012 8:55:50 AM PDT by MichCapCon

Now it’s the law — graduate student research assistants (GSRAs) are not public employees.

On Tuesday, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill that specifies that GSRAs aren’t public employees at the universities where they study and therefore are not eligible to be unionized.

“While graduate student research assistants provide valuable efforts for universities, they are students first and foremost,” Snyder said in a release. “Considering them to be public employees with union representation would alter the nature of the critical relationship between students and teachers, and risk the educational mission of universities.”

The bill (House Bill 4246) codifies a Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) position that dated back to 1981. Under that long-held position, GSRAs had been considered students. However, it was believed the legislation was needed to head-off a possible reversal of the 31-year-old MERC position.

A group of graduate student research assistants at the University of Michigan were pressing for MERC to rule that they were employees. What’s more, it appeared that MERC (a three-member panel with a 2-1 Democratic majority) was poised to do just that. MERC had recently kept those advocating that GSRAs were students, not employees, out of hearings about the possible policy change.

The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation was one of the entities MERC kept out of the hearings. The other was the office of the Michigan Attorney General.

“The bill the governor signed clarifies what we have known for a long time,” said Patrick Wright, director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation. “Graduate student research assistants are not public employees. They should not have their financial aid taken away as dues.”

In spite of the passage of House Bill 4246 and it being signed into law, the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO), the group that was attempting to unionize the GSRAs, has apparently not given up. The GEO has filed a motion with MERC to still try and get GSRAs recognized as being eligible to be considered public employees and therefore subject to unionization.


TOPICS: Education; Government
KEYWORDS: college

1 posted on 03/15/2012 8:55:55 AM PDT by MichCapCon
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To: MichCapCon
“Graduate student research assistants are not public employees. They should not have their financial aid taken away as dues.”

These attempts to grab taxpayer dollars is one more reason I suspect that public sector unions are unconstitutional.
2 posted on 03/15/2012 8:59:46 AM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: MichCapCon

How many of these types of things have been passed under the radar over the years, with nobody giving it a second thought?


3 posted on 03/15/2012 9:08:50 AM PDT by rlmorel (A knife in the chest from a unapologetic liberal is preferable to a knife in the back from a RINO.)
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To: MichCapCon

I wonder if they make minimum wage?


4 posted on 03/15/2012 9:26:31 AM PDT by eCSMaster (Conservative patriots, Rise up!)
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To: MichCapCon
The GEO has filed a motion with MERC to still try and get GSRAs recognized as being eligible to be considered public employees and therefore subject to unionization.


OK, recognize them as “eligible” and make it voluntary.

Let the students decide as individuals - problem fixed!

5 posted on 03/15/2012 9:51:44 AM PDT by az_gila
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To: az_gila
True. There isn't anything that prevents them from organizing, creating a de facto union, right? (and spend their personal money on dues)

I'm curious to see what happens when they strike.

6 posted on 03/15/2012 10:23:49 AM PDT by Nevermore (...just a typical cracker, clinging to my Constitutional rights...)
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To: MichCapCon
The usual gang of leftists see the university as a lingering vestige of corporatism, whose treatment of students, based on academic freedom, remains out of their reach. It just follows then that by unionizing grad students, who do much of the teaching and research, they could have collective bargaining rights and the right to strike. If you want to see what this means in reality, look at Paris 1968.
7 posted on 03/15/2012 10:31:04 AM PDT by hinckley buzzard
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To: cripplecreek
I don't know what specific provision of the Constitution would forbid public employee unions - but unconstitutional or not - they should be illegal.

When a private company enters negotiations with a union - we all know they have their own best interest at heart and will negotiate in good faith - and if they give too much to the unions - it is only their own profit margin/survivability as a company they are putting at risk.

When an elected representative enters negotiations with a union - one that supported their election - they are usually willing to give away as much of the taxpayers money as they think they can get away with.

But I DO find it amusing that as the Government loads up the private sector with MORE AND MORE ludicrous demands for benefits for full time employees - they make themselves exempt.

Do they wonder why so many companies hire temporary or part time employees these days?

8 posted on 03/15/2012 10:31:19 AM PDT by allmendream (Tea Party did not send GOP to DC to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism)
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