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Bargaining underway between CMU and Graduate Student Union, members ‘disappointed’ with university’s stance

The Graduate Student Union began bargaining Feb. 15 on the smaller issues of its platform.

GSU President Michelle Campbell said Sunday the GSU is bargaining on a specific schedule, and they have started with some of the smaller, more detailed issues in the platform. She said so far they have talked about the exit survey and the arbitrator selection process.

“I don’t think we’re going to get into the fairly huge issues like health care and salary for a little while,” she said.

While the bargaining process is still in the early stages, Campbell said the GSU’s general goal is to achieve better working and living conditions for graduate assistants.

“We have a lot of things we want to talk about, and we don’t know what’s going to happen with those until we get to the table and hear what the other side has to say,” she said.

Campbell said the GSU had originally hoped to get the contract bargained quickly, because the GSU bargaining members are busy with school, work and their graduate assistantships.

She said even if the GSU were to get the new contract done within a couple of weeks, CMU leadership announced last week that new contracts won’t be signed until after the right-to-work law takes effect March 28.

“They’re basically refusing to approve our contract,” she said.

As reported by Central Michigan Life Thursday, CMU rejected requests from the Faculty Association and the AFSCME union for maintenance and custodial workers looking to add security clauses to their contracts that would keep members paying dues for several years.

In a statement to faculty and staff Wednesday, the university said it will reject all such requests by unions on campus in order to “comply with the intent of the law.”

“CMU has reviewed the requests and concluded the outcomes of the proposals, while not illegal, would prevent employees from exercising their rights under Michigan’s new right-to-work legislation,” Provost Gary Shapiro said Wednesday in an email issued to staff obtained by CM Life.

Campbell said in a statement Wednesday night the GSU was “disappointed and disheartened” by CMU’s stance regarding collective bargaining.

“We believe that Central Michigan University’s refusal to discuss legal security clause agreements before this legislation takes effect is, in part, a prioritization of concerns of retaliation from Lansing and the Mackinac Center (for Public Policy) over the welfare of their employees,” she said.

The GSU has already met with the university three times to bargain, and they will meet again today and Wednesday. Campbell said the GSU hopes to meet over spring break, and they will continue to meet two to three times a week afterward.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to have an amicable and productive discussion with the university on our platform,” she said.

Central Michigan University’s GSU was recognized in 2009, and the three-year contract from 2010-13 expires this summer. The new GSU contract will go into effect July 1 and will be subject to the right-to-work laws.

13 Comments

  1. Good for CMU . . . sorry it doesn’t want to carry the union/liberal/Dems banner anymore. This is good for the marketplace of ideas, prospective and current educators, it is only bad for the union/democratic machine.

    • Its bad for grad students. No one wants to come to a place with a reputation as the only school with no health coverage. Much less a place that scared off all the good professors and cant find (good) new ones. This union busting is bad for business.

      • That doesn’t make any sense. CMU isn’t going to set up health care coverage any different than its competitors…besides didn;t Obama just give us all healthcare . . . I digress. Your thoughts of a “good professor” being scared off are baseless, why would people stop wanting to work here just because the union can’t force other people to join the union?

        • You seem to have no idea what you are talking about. Employed grad students at MSU get full health care coverage. Students at CMU get a 175 dollar “health stipend”. Can you see the difference in that?

          You also seem to have no clue as to how healthcare works with the new national laws… I digress.

          Also, I was an undergrad when the university started its union busting. I know of at least 2 who took off from my own department. I know of plenty more who were looking for jobs. God knows how many people would take off if their roots were not in the corn field already.

    • I would LOVE to see you explain how right to work is good for anyone except the employer.

      • @twitter-324447756:disqus to start it means a diverse (to use a university word) group of viewpoints can work at CMU without having to joining the liberal union thugs….imagine if we had some conservative thought on campus!

        Glad to see the grad assistants have time to post on the student paper website!

        @cmugrad:disqus why should a part time employee get health care?

        • Because all our competitors give them health insurance.

          Because sick teachers are a public health concern.

          Because investing public money into a student is a horrible idea if they have to drop out due to a single ER visit.

          Because a single sick day makes up for the difference in costs. We charge such high tuition for classes taught by grad students and cant even promise our undergrads we’ll try and keep the teachers in the classroom.

          • This is how capitalism works . . .if life is so much worse for everyone at CMU as you imply, then soon they will all leave (students and teachers) or CMU will change. The market controls.

            You are a part-time employee…does the employer pay full medical for the 28 year old pizza driver who works 10 hours a week?

            Sure sick teachers are a concern, sick people everywhere are. The fact CMU wants to wait and make RTW apply to the contract, doesn’t change that fact. They are simply opening the workplace to more people.

  2. Also, while I’m thinking of it. Didn’t the administration state intentions to use even more grad students as part of academic prioritization? How are we supposed to attract high quality grad students with all the horror stories of how we treat them? Come to CMU! Just don’t expect competitive pay! Or benifits! Or modern facilities…

    All we have now is a bad reputation and a new med school (one that’s crippled without the new biology building). CMU needs wrap its head around the consequences of its shortsightedness.

  3. The University should be looking out for its students and its employees, not the interests of lobbyists who seem to want this law to take effect before it legally does. Bargaining in good faith with their graduate employees is in the best interest of the University–it helps make sure they will have both the ability to be competitive in graduate student recruitment and make sure that the grads recruited can provide a high quality of instruction to undergrads. Grad and adjunct employees do the bulk of the teaching work–does CMU really want to alienate them and put itself at a competitive disadvantage? For the record, many other universities already offer health care to their grads, and certainly the vast majority of institutions that it’s worth competing with do.

  4. I don’t understand the University’s position on this. If a majority of union members ratify the contract knowing it will defer so called “right to work” until the contract is up, then whose rights are being violated? How is that any different than a Republican majority passing right to work in the first place? Why are bureacratic, CMU appointees thwarting the will of democratically elected union leadership?

    • That makes no sense. The point isn’t about the current faculty it is about the people who some day want to work there but are barred by union rules.

      Why should CMU bargin now? This makes business sense and it is a great negotiation tactic.

      The Democractically-controlled union only exists because there is a CMU, it doesn’t work the other way around. I appreciate the fact your leadership was appointed by the Democratic party but that means nothing in negotiation.

      Wait for a new contract or go elsewhere.

      • Yet again you have no idea what you are talking about. “Appointed by the democratic party”?

        Your confusing “leans democrat” with some delusional right-wing fantasy.

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