CMU's Graduate Student Union could begin bargaining next week

Central Michigan University's Board of Trustees agreed Thursday to begin bargaining with the Michigan Federation of Teachers for the Graduate Student Union, along with three other units.

Other units included in the bargaining agreement are the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians/Communication Workers of America for broadcast employees, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America for office professional employees and the CMU Supervisory Technical Association for supervisory-technical employees.

Now that the GSU has permission to begin bargaining, GSU President Michelle Campbell hopes to begin bargaining as soon as next week.

"We've already submitted a schedule of times, dates and issues that we hope to discuss," Campbell said. "We hope to hear from (representatives of the university) soon to discuss our issues."

The goal of the GSU's bargaining contract is to improve basic protections and human rights for graduate assistants, Campbell told Central Michigan Life in January.

"Everything on our bargaining contract is an issue we hope to discuss," Campbell said.

The GSU hopes to bargain its contract and discuss issues concerning time off for graduate assistants, salary, health care and time off for emergencies. The GSU also wants graduate assistants to be compensated for working overtime.

“We have the same responsibilities as a faculty member but not the same rights as a faculty member,” Campbell told CM Life in January.

In regards to health care, the GSU bargaining platform states that graduate assistants should have health care coverage beyond the wellness allowance and supports health care coverage that extends to spouses, civil partners and children.

Campbell wanted this bargaining action put on the board during December's trustees meeting so they could begin bargaining over winter break.

She emailed the board prior to December's meeting and did not receive a response.

“Unlike other bargaining units on campus, our members on the bargaining team do not receive leave time to bargain,” Campbell told the trustees during December's meeting. " … Asking our members to bargain so late in the semester, when our jobs and our classes are only piling on more work is, as we see it, not an attempt by the university to bargain in good faith for a fair contract.”

There was no response from the board after her comment was made.

“We listened to her comment, and as policy, the board does not respond,” Trustee Brian Fannon told CM Life in December. “I defer to President (George) Ross.”

Ross told CM Life in December the timetable for bargaining is traditional and the university needed time to prepare, and that is why Campbell's request was not added to the agenda.

"These four contracts expire in June, and we typically seek approval from the board in the winter or spring meeting authorizing the ratification of the new contracts. It's been happening that way for as long as any of us can remember," Ross said during Thursday's meeting.