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.


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