CMU says it will comply with new right-to-work law

Central Michigan University will work to fulfill the requirements under the new right-to-work law signed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder in December.

The law, effective March 27, places Michigan on the path to becoming the 24th state with RTW legislation.

"(The university will) comply with its obligations under the law as well as its obligations under its agreements with its unions,” according to a news release issued last week.

Because of the RTW legislation, unions across the state will become open shops. This means union membership and payment of dues to a union cannot be a required condition of employment for public employees, which applies to CMU because it is a public university.

However, a union can continue to represent all employees and still has the duty to represent any employee fairly, regardless of their membership.

These requirements make it so public employees are protected from being pressured into joining or supporting a union. The law also established penalties for the violation of any of these terms.

At Wayne State University, the faculty union wants to have a provision in a 10-year contract that would allow for the collection of dues, even after the law is passed.

"Right-to-work was an attack on unions, and we're trying to defend ourselves the best we can," WSU Faculty Union President Charlie Parrish told the Detroit Free Press last week.

Wayne State is just one of various union groups trying to fight the new law.

The RTW law only applies to any collective bargaining agreements that have been entered into or renewed after March 27.

CMU Faculty Association President Laura Frey said the FA will continue to work for faculty member’s rights to a quality workplace.

“CMU FA remains committed to collective bargaining. The (FA) leadership is actively reviewing options to support faculty rights to a fair, equitable workplace environment,” Frey said via email.

The change in the RTW legislation will be another topic for the FA, which includes more than 600 members.

The FA and CMU reached an agreement on a three-year contract on Dec. 1, 2011, after months of turmoil, heading in a strike that canceled classes in August 2011. Several meetings and litigation then ensued between the FA and CMU which began in April.

Since the fall, relations have calmed significantly between both sides, although tensions of the previous year are still being resolved.


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